LIFE Section Inside

THE SARATOGIAN
20 Over 40

Pages 1-6 C

C

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

The Saratogian is pleased to recognize 20 residents age 40 and older nominated by their colleagues, friends and families for excellence in their chosen fields and for making a difference in the community.
Meet them on Pages 1-6C

Profiles by Maria McBride Bucciferro

 

THE SARATOGIAN, Sunday, September 26, 2004 -- 5C


REBUILDING THE COMMUNITY

MICHELLE LARKIN

When Michelle Larkin went to Boston and Washington, D.C., with her family and church youth group to rehabilitate run-down homes for needy residents, she got an idea.

"You know, there are projects at home we can be doing," she said. "That was the spark"

Larkin put together a dedicated board of directors, and Rebuilding Together Saratoga County was born last November. Larkin, 45, is the founder and volunteer president of the fledgling nonprofit, which is an affiliate of the national group.

Rebuilding Together works to rehabilitate homes of low-incomes elderly or disabled people or families with children. Last April, close to 200 volunteers gathered to complete five projects in Saratoga County - the first workday ever for the group.

"The whole point ... is neighbors helping neighbors, the old barn-raising idea," Larkin said. "It's a project that just hits home."

Larkin is the leader for the junior high youth group at the Presbyterian-New England Congregational Church, where she has served as a deacon and in other volunteer posts. She and her husband, Dan, were chaperones for the youth group during the Boston and Washington, D.C., work trips, when she came up with her idea.

"It's nice to mobilize that energy and harness that enthusiasm locally," she said. "What's neat is the community coming together - kids, parents, grandparents. My kids are veterans at this. That's why I like the program. It's involving the kids."

Originally from Syracuse, Larkin moved to the area 25 years ago. She and Dan live in the town of Saratoga with their son, Shane, 14, and daughter, Erica, 121/a.

She also credits two friends, Heather Green and Anne Diggory, for encouraging her to make her idea a reality.

Larkin's other volunteer work includes serving on the Saratoga AIDS Care Team, which provides support to people who are suffering from AIDS or are HIV positive. "We develop a relationship as a friend, a family friend," she said." 

It certainly opens your eyes. There're so many people dealing with issues we don't deal with,

 
CLARK BELL/The Saratogian 
Michelle Larkin founded Rebuilding Together Saratoga County. She also serves on the Saratoga AIDS Care Team.

from a home without plumbing to living with an illness."

Another volunteer position is now a paid one.

Larkin was the volunteer coordinator for the Arts in Education Program at the Schuylerville Central Schools for six years.

"My kids were now ready to move on to junior-senior high, and I felt this was a time for me to step down," Larkin said.

But the school board didn't want to let her go and turned the volunteer position into a paid one. The program to bring music, theater, and the arts into the schools continues to grow.

Larkin's husband nominated her for 20 Over 40. "Michelle is one of the most selfless people I have ever known," he wrote. "She always looks to help others and does so on a daily basis, in small and large ways."

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