April 6, 2021

Leadership Tech Valley Class Announces Community Garden Project in Partnership with the Albany Damien Center

The Leadership Tech Valley (LTV) Class of 2021 is excited to announce a partnership with the Albany Damien Center to establish and cultivate the Albany Damien Center Garden this spring 2021.

As a part of Leadership Tech Valley, the class must reach consensus and come together to complete a community service project. Participants in this year’s LTV Class solicited proposals via an RFP process and received several submissions from local community organizations. This class requested proposals for projects that would have a substantial impact on the Capital Region in the area(s) of food insecurity, access to technology, and/or homelessness. The class decided to help make a difference in the lives of those that may be dealing with food insecurity and homelessness through a partnership with the Damien Center.

Established in 1988, the Damien Center has provided critical housing, employment, health and wellness programs and services to 1000s of individuals living with HIV/AIDS at no charge. Damien Center members are often living in poverty, have co-morbid health conditions, and inadequate or nonexistent psycho-social supports. They oftentimes lack proper food security and access to food safety and nutrition, which is essential to maintaining a strong and healthy immune system.

To combat these issues, which have been exacerbated during COVID-19, the Albany Damien Center has secured a 100 square foot plot in a community garden on Morris Street in Albany (this space is a part of Capital Roots’ Community Garden). In partnership, the Leadership Tech Valley class will cultivate and obtain supplies for Damien Center members to maintain this produce garden for years to come. Additionally, on the Damien Center property located at 728 Madison Ave., the LTV class will establish window boxes with herbs, a flower garden, and a reflection area where individuals can grieve losses due to complications from HIV/AIDS.

Rebecca Sparks, Housing Manager at The Albany Damien Center, said “The Community Garden project with Leadership Tech Valley will have numerous benefits for the members and tenants of the Albany Damien Center. This project provides members with the opportunity to develop important daily living skills, increased access to fresh produce, and enhanced community spaces. Additionally, this project can be utilized as a coping skill to improve wellbeing and overall quality of life.”

The Damien Center Garden will provide much needed access to healthy and nutritious food and programming. It also serves as a symbol of growth and development for the Damien Center’s members and the greater community.

“The LTV Class of 2021 is cultivating Damien’s Garden to nurture sustainable harvests to benefit the Albany Damien Center community for years to come,” said Dena DeLude, HR Manager for Picotte Companies, on behalf of the class.

The LTV Class of 2021 will be fundraising and accepting in-kind donations from individuals and organizations to make this project possible. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. Donations can be submitted online at: