A multi-million-dollar project in downtown Saratoga is expected to help many people in need throughout the community, including the men and women who work countless hours on the backstretch.
Mercy House of Saratoga is a new nonprofit that was created last year by members of the Bethesda Episcopal Church. Within a few months, they plan to break ground on a new 30,000-square-foot facility that will have an entire floor dedicated to backstretch workers.
Wednesday, the New York Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association presented Mercy House with a $25,000 check to help them fund the $9 million project. Once completed, the building will provide services and temporary living space to groups including veterans, domestic violence victims and people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
The fourth floor will be devoted entirely to backstretch workers.
The Executive Director of the Backstretch Employee Services Team, Paul Ruchames, says the space is sorely needed to help the thousands of men and women who work with the horses day in and day out.
"What it will do is provide a respite place for them when they’re recovering from an on this or an injury that had them be hospitalized," Ruchames said.
"They’re the backbone of what we do and they don’t get to go in the winners circle all that often," said NYTHA President Joe Appelbaum. "They don’t get on TV, but they are the ones feeding, bathing, caring for horses ... on a daily basis.”
There will be 22 beds devoted to backstretch workers once the building is complete. Construction is expected to begin with in the next few months and wrap up by the fall or winter of 2021.