ALBANY, NY – September 25, 2009 – The Albany Roundtable has selected community organizers Maria and Roger Markovics to receive its prestigious Good Patroon Award for their efforts to ensure that Albany residents have access to decent and livable housing – regardless of their income. This annual award was established in 1988 to recognize outstanding contributions to the community by institutions and individuals.
“United Tenants of Albany knows, better than most, that Albany is a city of many neighborhoods,” said Colleen Ryan, President of the Albany Roundtable. “From well-kept, tree-lined streets to blocks where every other building is dilapidated or vacant, these neighborhoods are both the key – and an obstacle – to this city’s success. By working for equity and justice in housing, Maria and Roger have in fact become staunch champions for a revitalized and sustainable city. Through more than a third of a century of upswings and downturns, the continued success of United Tenants of Albany is the tangible result of their unwavering leadership, and we are delighted to honor them with the Good Patroon Award.”
Susan Cotner, Executive Director of the Affordable Housing Partnership of the Capital Region will present the Award at the first meeting of the Albany Roundtable’s 31st season on Wednesday, October 14th. The luncheon’s featured speaker is Kirby White, a founder of the Capital District Community Loan Fund and author of two mystery novels set in upstate New York.
“We moved to Albany in 1970 and began working in a small storefront crisis intervention program called Providence House in Albany’s South End,” said Roger, whose efforts with his wife Maria brought together a group of low-income tenants that eventually became the United Tenants of Albany (UTA). “Now, almost 40 years later, we maintain a similar job sharing arrangement, now with Catholic Charities, to continue working on housing and welfare issues.”
Maria and Roger’s leadership at UTA encouraged staff and volunteers to create several other community-based regional organizations addressing the socio-economic roots of housing problems, including the Capital District Community Loan Fund, the Albany Community Land Trust, the Affordable Housing Partnership, and Albany Area Housing Opportunities. As these organizations have grown they have formed an informal network connected with UTA to both develop and preserve affordable housing with an expanding grass roots leadership.
At UTA, Maria currently coordinates a Homeless Intervention Program and manages administrative and fund raising affairs. Roger concentrates on reinvestment work with the Capital District Community Loan Fund, the Albany Community Land Trust, and the Affordable Housing Partnership, including related efforts with an anti-predatory lending campaign (HomeSave), the Capital District Regional Homeownership Collaborative, and the Capital District Labor Religion Coalition.
The October 14 Roundtable Luncheon begins at 12:00 noon and will be held in a new location this year – the historic University Club of Albany at 141 Washington Avenue. The luncheon is open to the public and the cost is $15, which may be paid at the door. The University Club will serve lunch from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m., with the program commencing at 12:30. Reservations are required by Monday, October 12 and can be made by calling 518-431-1440 (through the Albany Colonie Regional Chamber of Commerce) or by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
The most recent Good Patroon Award winners include Christine M. Miles, Director of the Albany Institute of History and Art; Parsons Child and Family Center and its Executive Director Raymond Schimmer; Capital Repertory Theater and its Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill; and the Albany Housing Authority and its Executive Director Stephen Longo.
“When he died in 1839, Stephen Van Rensselaer III was remembered as ‘The Good Patroon’ for his benevolent attitude toward the residents of Rensselaerswyck,” said Ryan. “The Good Patroon Award is the Albany Roundtable’s primary means of honoring those leaders who make our community a better place to live. We are so pleased to be able to present Maria and Roger with this award.”