Volunteer of the Year: Aleacia Landon
She’s only lived here a few years, but she’s thrown herself into various ways of serving others
SARANAC LAKE — Aleacia Landon has dedicated her life to community service and helping others.
“I have a vision of the place I would like to be living,” she said. “I want it to be safe for my kids and the kids that I work with. I want it to be beautiful. We’re in an area that has lower wages and fewer opportunities. I just want to help.”
Originally from Alaska, Landon has lived in Saranac Lake for only three-and-a-half years and already has built up a stacked list of community services projects with which she volunteers.
“The community is going to be what we make of it,” she said. “I hope to inspire others to get involved with their community in whatever way is comfortable for them. You can do one really small thing, and it can have a ripple effect. I tend to go all gung-ho and get involved with a lot of different things that have meaning to me.”
For employment, Landon is the executive director of the Saranac Lake Youth Center, a place where kids and teens hang out after school. They work on arts and crafts projects, play pool and air hockey, participate in community service programs and do homework. In the winter, the center sees about 25 kids a day, and 15 in the summer, Landon said. On a busy day, there can be 45 kids at the center.
“It’s just a great space for the kids,” she said.
Since November 2016, Landon has delivered the food to the food pantry at the Saranac Lake Adult Center on Tuesdays. Avana Forsyth, who also helps at the food pantry, said, “She comes in with a smile and always leaves with one as well. She believes strongly in helping our community in any way that she can.”
She’s a member of the Kiwanis Club, the Saranac Lake Women’s Civic Chamber and the Aktion Club, which is an activity group for adults with developmental disabilities.
“My adult son has autism, so it’s a way for him to get out and get involved,” Landon said.
She is the secretary of the Saranac Lake Fifth Quarter Club, which is the booster club for the high school football team, and serves as the director for the Olga Memorial Footrace, which raises money for the youth center and the Saranac Lake Rotary Club.
“A lot of the things I’m involved with are centered around children, specifically teens,” she said. “I was a middle school track coach for many years. I love working with this age group. Whatever I can do to support them, I’m drawn to that.”
Landon is a member of the Franklin County Suicide Prevention Coalition, and she runs the monthly Suicide Survivor Loss Support Group.
“My brother died from suicide back in 2002, so it’s something that’s near and dear to my heart,” she said. “When I found out that there was a coalition, I definitely wanted to be involved.”
She and Kelly Metzger established the local Teen LGBTQ Support Group.
“We know that there is a definite need,” Landon said. “I have many kids who identify in that community, but they don’t always come to the meetings. Sometimes we don’t have anybody who shows up. There are other times where they’re all allies, which is totally fine because you are still able to answer their questions and teach them how to be the best support that they can be for their friends or family members.”
She also helps out at the election night dinners at the First United Methodist Church of Saranac Lake.
“I don’t mind doing dishes,” she said.
How does she do it all?
“I’ve got my family. I’ve got my work. I’ve got my volunteerism. There’s really no way that you can balance it,” she said. “Everybody is always trying to find balance, and I don’t think that is actually achievable. You just try and do the best you can. Things slip. Sometimes I’m slower to respond to emails on certain things.”
When she’s not working or volunteering, Landon said she’s a homebody.
“I derive a significant amount of satisfaction, absolutely, from what I do for others,” she said. “Giving to others fills my bucket, but it can’t all be volunteer work. I’ve got to have my me-time. So much of my life, and what people see is the outreach that I do, but I am actually an introvert. I love being home with my dog, my family and reading a book and relaxing.”
Landon doesn’t exist in a vacuum. She said she sees people every day who are doing the same type of work she does with the same amount of effort.
“I’ve never lived in a place like Saranac Lake, where there are so many people trying to do good works for the betterment of all,” she said.