Leap of Kindness Day was invented by the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce in 2016 as a way to encourage the community to do something good with their “extra day.”
Once a month, approximately eight Wildwood Programs members spend the morning doing trail work on one of Saratoga PLAN’s nature preserves. These individuals accompany PLAN’s hardworking group of volunteers, the Monday Stewards, and typically work on projects ranging from bridge building to trail clearing. They have been doing so for the last four years.
Bridget Kennedy, Wildwood Program’s Business Development Liaison, explained that the core of Wildwood’s mission is to improve the well-being of individuals with neurologically-based learning disabilities, autism, and other developmental disorders. “Individuals have skill sets and passions that they want to contribute, and Saratoga PLAN’s partnership has allowed them to do just that. These experiences help them develop their skill sets, build relationships, and lead some people into paid jobs,” Kennedy explained.
Don Washburn, a Monday Steward and PLAN’s contact with Wildwood Programs reflected on the joys of working alongside the Wildwood team and the significant contributions they have made to preserve projects. “The amount of needed work they have accomplished, in great spirit, has been great to see,” he said.
That same great spirit surged through the Wildwood Programs Riverside location in Halfmoon where PLAN staff spent their Leap of Kindness Day interacting with individuals. After lunching together, the group participated in musical activities, enjoying each other’s company while singing, dancing and playing instruments to classics like “Lean on Me”, “Country Roads” and “Man, I Feel like a Woman”.
“Individuals from Wildwood Programs have been sharing their time and talents with us for years and we decided that spending an afternoon with them would be just a small token of our sincerest appreciation for all that they have done for us and for PLAN trail users,” said Alex Fylypovych, PLAN’s Community Engagement Manager. “When the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce announced its Leap of Kindness Day initiative, PLAN staff jumped, or I should say leapt, at the opportunity to give back to our community partner.”
In addition to taking their own leap of kindness, Saratoga PLAN encouraged its Facebook followers to donate to a Facebook Fundraiser with a goal of raising $2,900 by February 29th, benefiting trails on PLAN preserves. Thanks to community support, PLAN surpassed their halfway mark and raised $1,715.
“We are so thankful for everyone’s generosity and are committed to continuing to provide the community with well-maintained preserves and trails,” Fylypovych explained. “People don’t always recognize just how far their support reaches, either. Contributions to PLAN’s Leap of Kindness Day fundraiser will help fund trail projects, some of which may be worked on by our dear friends from Wildwood,” she added.
Working collaboratively with individuals, families and the community, Wildwood Programs empowers and enables children and adults with neurologically-based learning disabilities, autism, and other developmental disorders to lead independent, productive and fulfilling lives while strengthening the well-being of people through innovative supports.
Saratoga PLAN is a nonprofit land trust that preserves the rural character, natural habitats and scenic beauty of Saratoga County so that these irreplaceable assets are accessible to all and survive for future generations. PLAN has helped conserve over 7,000 acres of land. PLAN helps landowners conserve farmland, woodlands and natural habitats, and connects people to nature through an extensive trail network, including 10 public nature preserves open for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and kayaking. Saratoga PLAN helps communities create plans that balance growth with conservation to sustain the Saratoga Region as a great place to live, work, visit, play and farm. PLAN facilitates community-based conservation by partnering with municipalities to help them accomplish their community’s conservation goals.