Lake Placid’s food pantry, thrift shop to get new home

The Lake Placid Central School District’s basketball courts are seen here on Thursday morning. The new Lake Placid Food Pantry and Thrift Shop is set to be built where the courts are currently located, next to the Shipman Youth Center. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

LAKE PLACID — Both the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry and the shuttered Helping Hands Thrift Shop will have a new home by next winter.

A 3,000 square foot building is slated to go up where the Lake Placid Central School District’s basketball courts are currently located, next to the Shipman Youth Center. New basketball courts will be installed in a different location. The new building will house the food pantry on one side and the thrift shop on the other, with a basement space for community meetings and a garage area to store secondhand furniture for the thrift shop.

“We’re committed at this point,” said village Mayor Art Devlin. “The site has been picked, the building has been ordered and it’s in the process of being built.”

The total project cost is around $850,000, Devlin said. The funding is public, he added, and according to Homestead Development Corporation president Steve Sama, fundraising efforts are underway.

“Fundraising is just initially starting to be done, and hopefully, the community steps up because the gain is for the community,” Sama said. “There’s no resale or any kind of profit from these donations other than the goodwill of feeding people and providing a place for them to get clothes and furniture that’s been repurposed.”

From left, volunteers Bernie Clarke, John Fay and Kathleen Martens pack a bag full of food and toiletries at the Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry on Feb. 23. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

The town of North Elba also plans to help fund the project through its Local Enhancement and Advancement Fund, according to town Supervisor Derek Doty, though the final figure “hasn’t been determined yet.”

“It’s wicked exciting,” Doty said.

The building is expected to arrive in June and the village is aiming for an opening date in October or November. Homestead has been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition, and the Lake Placid-based housing nonprofit will oversee construction on the new building, which is prefabricated. The building will come from Simplex Homes, a modular construction company based in Pennsylvania. Homestead previously worked with Simplex Homes to build Fawn Valley, a 22-unit housing development for essential workers.

“We’re running the project A to Z,” said Sama.

He said Homestead will contribute some volunteer labor to the construction project. Right now, the building has been ordered and the deposit has been paid, but Sama is still waiting to receive an engineering plan, which he’ll need to approve before construction begins. Sama said the project will likely go before the Lake Placid-North Elba Joint Review Board before the end of April.

The Lake Placid Ecumenical Food Pantry provided 34,506 pounds of food at no cost in 2023, amounting to 28,755 meals. (Enterprise photo — Sydney Emerson)

“We all love this project,” Sama said. “We think it’s really important for the village and the town and the community, and that’s why we’re all jamming on this thing.”

Helping Hands Thrift Shop and Ecumenical Food Pantry Director Linda Young could not be reached for comment by deadline on Thursday.

Outgrown and outdated

Helping Hands Thrift Shop — which was operated through the Ecumenical Charities program in Lake Placid — closed its doors last November after 31 years of serving the community. In December, Young told the Enterprise that the shop had to close due to the deteriorating condition of the building in which it was housed.

“The building’s extremely old and it’s been, the weather, the winters on it and everything, it’s had a lot of — it’s worn,” Young said. “It’s leaked … the ice out there, the roof, if you went over and examined the whole place inside and out other than our part, you’d see that it’s got to be taken down. So it’s not like we said, ‘Oh, today we’re not having any more thrift shop.’ It’s not working that way. It’s just the timing with it and everything.”

Young added that she had made some inquiries into other spaces in Lake Placid to house the thrift shop, but was unable to find one that suited the shop’s needs as a nonprofit as of its closing.

“I’m optimistic about if there was a possibility, they could just start again. It’s like anything in life, you just start again,” she said. “We’re open to possibilities, as far as that goes. It just depends on if the opportunity comes.”

The Ecumenical Food Pantry remains open in the basement of St. Agnes Church, where it’s been located since the 1980s. The pantry serves between 50 and 70 households every Friday morning. In 2023, the food pantry gave out 34,506 pounds of food, which amounted to 28,755 meals.

“St. Agnes’s basement has been outgrown for a few years and (the food pantry) keeps growing, so all the community leaders are getting together,” said Doty. “(It) serves a pretty good population of J1 (students), that we all know without them we couldn’t even open up Lake Placid to tourists and the such.”

The move from St. Agnes Church is “not out of weakness” but rather out of a desire to expand and better serve the community, said Jim Koenig, pastor at Lake Placid Baptist Church. The church is one of the local faith-based organizations that originally started the food pantry.

“It’s a good program and it’s very robust and it’s been a quiet thing in this community that’s been an invaluable resource for a long time,” Koenig said. “It’s just a transition. … It already has a track record of success. We’re continuing something that’s been very effective.”

St. Agnes Church Rev. John Yonkovig said the move will be good for food pantry volunteers and patrons alike.

“It has been a 40-year-long challenge, so this is going to make it so much more convenient for those involved,” he said. “We’ve been struggling for years, trying to find easier access (to the pantry from the street) but it’s an exceptionally old building and impossible to cut through walls or make access easier. So, the real solution is this new facility.”

School involvement

LPCSD owns the land upon which the Shipman Youth Center sits, as well as the land where the future food pantry and thrift shop will sit. According to Devlin, the thrift shop will lease the land from the school district.

LPCSD Superintendent Timothy Seymour, who is also a member of Homestead’s board, said the district’s participation in the project comes from its status as a community school — that is, a district that is involved with all aspects of its students’ lives, not just their time in the classroom.

“We want the school to have an active role in the lives of the community and our students,” Seymour said. “If there was a way for the school to partner to ensure the sustainability of (the food pantry and thrift shop), we wanted to assist.”

The food pantry team conducted a “pretty exhaustive search” for an existing building where the food pantry and thrift shop could relocate, according to Seymour.

“Our search ran short and things were kind of stalled for a few months,” he said. “During that time, the needs of the food pantry continued to grow and the lack of revenue generated from the thrift shop … just continued to ripen the issue.”

After determining a new building was necessary, all involved parties — LPCSD, the village of Lake Placid, the town of North Elba, the Lake Placid Ecumenical Council — agreed on the spot next to the Shipman Youth Center. Homestead became involved at this stage. The Adirondack Foundation is also participating, assisting with fundraising efforts.

“This is such a great project,” Seymour said. “There’s so much here about the vibrancy of the organizations. It’s really nice to see the level of collaboration and focus that people are putting forth.”

Shipman Youth Center

In order for the new building to go up, LPCSD’s basketball courts next to the Shipman Youth Center had to come down. There is a commitment for new basketball courts to go up near the school, according to Devlin.

LPCSD notified the youth center board of its plans for the basketball courts on Feb. 23. After the basketball courts’ fence started coming down this week, though, Shipman Youth Center board President Michael Durham said that students and parents began reaching out to the center’s leadership with questions. He questioned the planned location for the new food pantry and thrift shop.

“This is needed, but I don’t feel it’s needed for school grounds,” said Durham.


A restricted short-term fund has been established at the Adirondack Foundation to accept donations for the food pantry and thrift shop project. Gifts to the project are tax-deductible.

An online donation can be made at adf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate. Checks can be made payable to the Adirondack Foundation with “Lake Placid Food Pantry” in the memo and sent to PO Box 288, Lake Placid, NY 12946.

The Adirondack Foundation also accepts gifts of stock and qualified charitable distribution from traditional IRAs. To learn more about these donation options, contact Adirondack Foundation President and CEO Cali Brooks at cali@adkfoundation.org.

Infrastructure improvements

Separately, the town of North Elba is planning an infrastructure improvement project on Wesvalley Road and Cummings Road. This project includes potential new pedestrian sidewalks.

“It was intended to (connect) the residential area around Wesvalley to community resources, which includes the school/youth center area and now will include the food pantry/thrift store by default,” said North Elba/Lake Placid Community Development Director Haley Breen. “To my knowledge, this was (planned) well before there was any conversation around a new food pantry/thrift shop.”


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