There are over 3,500 people that make up the Backstretch village in the New York thoroughbred horse racing industry.
New York racing provides a safety net of services to this very unique community, but only one organization ministers to the heart and soul. The New York Race Track Chaplaincy provides equal professional services and programs to the racetrack employees and their extended families, without regard to the race, color, religion, handicap, familial status, or national origin of any residents of the Backstretch community.
The Chaplaincy ministry is one of presence; and their presence is obvious in the lives of thousands. Here are some of the programs and services offered by our organization on a regular basis.
Social Service Programs
* Assistance and translation services for workers with little or no understanding of the Department of Social Service, US Citizenship & Immigration Services, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service, banks and the civil justice system.
* We offer a food pantry and the Closet of Hope, providing perishable and non-perishable foods, as well as clothing and furniture to the Backstretch communities every week.
* Clerical assistance provided daily, allowing the Backstretch community to send or receive faxes and emails, usage of internet and phone, photocopies, etc.
* Emergency transportation during medical or legal difficulties.
* Soccer leagues, basketball games, softball games are available for the men in the Backstretch.
* Weekly women's fitness classes and monthly arts and crafts group.
* Trips to various popular locations during the holidays, as well as to places of historical interests and various entertainment outings, such as the circus, amusement parks, etc.
* Sports clinics for children and teens during school breaks.
* Special celebrations for the Backstretch families during various holidays throughout the year, such as Easter, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
* Bridging relationships between parents, local schools and colleges.
* Offering guidance with educational financial aid and scholarships.
* Promote and encourage local ESL, GED and adult education programs on-site and off-site to the Backstretch workers/spouses.
* Distribute backpacks filled with school supplies to over 300 children at all three tracks.
* Path to Citizenship program. Offering preparation classes for those eligible to obtain their U.S. citizenship.
Kids Enrichment Program
Dozens of Backstretch families move to Saratoga Springs for the racing meet, often working double shifts at the track. Therefore, a 7 week summer program experience has been designed for the children that spend their summers there.
*For the families that stay behind at Belmont and Aqueduct tracks, vacation programs are offered during July and August involving the children and their mothers in the communities surrounding the tracks.
The goal is to provide recreational services, cultural experiences, emotional, and social support to children with of Backstretch workers who cannot otherwise afford these types of opportunities.
Our Chaplain performs/offers these Christian non-denominational services to the Backstretch communities:
Empowerment for Women
Providing girls, young ladies and women the resources and opportunities to grow educationally, emotionally, and socially.
Throughout the year we offer girls and women mentoring, workshops, and conferences focusing on managing finances, overcoming abusive relationships, and building self-esteem, etc.
Nutrition and fitness classes are offered weekly and a craft night is offered once per month, both facilitating a bonding experience among women so that they can support each other through the process.