Posted by Recorder News | Aug 25, 2017 | Featured, Local News
Chantelle DeRose/Recorder staff
Friends, family and employees take part Friday in ribbon cutting ceremony for Home Helpers and Direct Link of Amsterdam.
By CHANTELLE DEROSE
HAGAMAN — Friends, family members and employees gathered Friday morning to witness two ribbon cutting ceremonies, which celebrated a new chapter for the community.
What was once the YMCA building on Pawling Street is now two professional care organizations owned by Ramon and Maria Rodriguez. Home Helpers and Direct Link of Amsterdam, provides in-home care services, while Building Blocks Child Care & Learning Center offers care for young children.
Originally hoping to redevelop a Salvation Army building in the City of Amsterdam, Rodriguez said he found the area residents reacted negatively.
“The neighborhood was saying that we would be bringing machinery in and they basically didn’t want us there,” Rodriguez said. “We had to walk away. Then we saw the YMCA building when they were closing down.”
It was shortly after discovering the building that Rodriguez felt confident he had found the right place.
“There were a couple of public hearings with the village residents and there were some concerns initially,” Hagaman Mayor Robert T. Krom said. “But Ramon had promised to do the right thing and it turns out, he has. It’s more than anyone ever expected.”
Rodriguez said the final meetings were positive.
“Our final few meetings were very positive. They welcomed us with open arms and that has made a difference,” Rodriguez said. “We’re very happy with the village too.”
In addition to providing healthcare services, Rodriguez also noted that the newly renovated property will benefit the surrounding area financially. Since the building was previously owned by a church, served as a school and then a YMCA, no taxes were being paid.
“Now we’re for-profit and we will be paying taxes,” Rodriguez said. “We received a tax PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes agreement) from the county and we’re going to be paying 10 percent every year until we reach 100 percent. So the property will be on tax roll.”
Looking at long-term plans, Rodriguez said he is hopeful the community will see a positive impact from his organizations.
“We’re creating jobs and we bring in positive traffic,” he said. “We’re not destroying the village. I think we’re adding to the village.”
Both Rodriguez and his wife know the importance of organizations like Home Helpers. Following 20 years of army service and work with a non-profit disability rights organization, Rodriguez said he knew he wanted to work closely with members of a community. After starting Home Helpers six years ago in a spare bedroom, the couple has watched it grow.
“We love dealing with people,” he said. “As far as the home care goes, I have personal experience with my grandmother, my dad and now my mother. Maria has experience with her mom too. We see the value in it and the need for it in today’s society.”
Krom also noted the importance of Home Helpers in the area.
“We all need some help when we get older. They’re obviously doing a good thing,” Krom said. “I also can’t say enough about Ramon and his wife. They’re two of the nicest people and the most professional people I’ve ever met. Their ability to create jobs in this environment is remarkable.”
Rodriguez said it has been a challenge to find enough workers to meet the demand for their services.
“Overall, the Home Helpers operation has about 250 employees total because we have a lot that are out in the field. We have enough work to hire 10 full-time employees today, but we can’t find them,” he said. “And then we have people that go without services because we don’t have the right people.”
Promising quality service, Rodriguez said his goal is to take care of people.
“That’s what it’s about,” Rodriguez said. “It’s about people and doing the right thing. If you do the right thing, everything will fall into place.”
While the front portion of the building is dedicated to Home Helpers, the back portion is now home to Building Blocks Child Care & Learning Center. Including an infant center, multiple classrooms, playrooms and a brand new outdoor playground, the space provides care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old.
“We have two grown kids and we never took them to daycare because we just didn’t trust them. We know what parents feel like because we felt that,” Rodriguez said. “We invested in this and found the right people to run it. We’re going to provide safe, quality daycare.”
According to Rodriguez, it’s almost “poetic” a daycare has been added to the property.
“Now we’re taking care of people at all stages of their lives. You start with childcare at the beginning of life, we employ people and then we take care of them at the end of life,” he said. “It’s a life-cycle. Isn’t that great?”