Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Community Respite Program for Soldiers

Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has created a new Community Respite Program modeled after a similar initiative launched in 2001. The first community respite program organized by the Chamber brought nearly 200 first responders to the Terrorist attacks of 9/11 from New York City to Saratoga for a weekend in 2002 in order to enjoy some peace and time away with their families. This latest community respite program will bring over 160 soldiers from the New York National Guard who have served overseas since 9/11 to Saratoga County along with their families for the same purpose. In total, more than 350 people are expected to participate.

Local participating hotels are offering free or significantly discounted rooms as part of the Respite Program for soldiers. The participating hotels include: The Hilton Garden Inn/Saratoga Springs; Courtyard by Marriott; Residence Inn; Holiday Inn/Clifton Park; Longfellow’s Hotel and Restaurant; Saratoga Hilton; The Inn at Saratoga; Adirondack Inn; Roosevelt Inn & Suites; Holiday Inn/Saratoga Springs; Saratoga Arms; Hampton Inn/Clifton Park; Hampton Inn/Saratoga Springs, and Hyatt Place/ Malta.

To extend this invitation, the Chamber worked with the Saratoga Convention and Visitor Bureau which created a single website on which the participating hotels could post their available rooms and rate information. An email was created by the Chamber that was sent to all qualifying soldiers inviting them to consider booking a vacation using this website. Besides the free or reduced priced rooms, the Chamber is now soliciting area restaurants and vacation destinations to put together gift basket that soldiers will be provided when they arrive at their hotel.

“Our goal will be to provide every soldier and their family with gift cards for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as free tickets to local events and destinations,” said Denise Romeo, Vice President of Member Services and the Chamber’s point person on this initiative. “In 2002, the community generously took care of the vast majority of expenses that the participating first responders may have faced by visiting here and we hope to do the same this time. The goal is to make this visit as fun, relaxing, and free as possible in recognition for the sacrifice they made to all of us and this great country.”