ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Soon the cemetery on Krumkill Road will be covered in snow, but the last cleanup of the season for its volunteers is bittersweet.
Since 2019, a small clean-up crew offers up their time to clean up gravestones, landscape, and mow the 19th Century Evangelical Protestant Church Cemetery grounds.
“Skunks come in and spread the ground with a beautiful scent,” Travis Winkleman said. “Early morning Albany, ah.”
For Winkleman and fellow Capital Region resident Mike Smith, it’s a labor of love.
“This is one of my favorite places,” Smith said. “But when everything is done, and everything is trimmed, it’s a beautiful place.”
When News10’s Stephanie Rivas asked Winkleman how much money he’s invested in the project, he cracked up.
“You don’t even want to go there,” Winkleman said. “I don’t like driving in traffic, but it’s gotta be done.”
He travels nearly an hour to the cemetery every few weeks and he said he’s spent upwards of $10,000 for the project.
When he bought a Jeep to haul his trailer and the newly updated mower, he started doing other work for his community—mowing the lawn of elderly neighbors and others in need.
“I’m a single mom. So, he was helping me out with some things around the house,” Kate LaFond, Saratoga Springs resident.
As a single mom, Kate Lafond said she’s lucky to have help from Travis. However, last month after leaving her house, Travis’ Jeep caught on fire, leaving him with another expense.
“He does it completely without expectation and believes it’s the right thing to do for people,” LaFond said.
LaFond started a Gofundme to help Travis out, but he said help people isn’t about the money.
Travis and Mike didn’t plan to come on the same day to say goodbye before Winter, but there they were shaking hands like old friends.
“This will be my last day. I’m just knocking down that hill and the other side,” Smith said.
Although Travis wishes the City of Albany would step in to help this privately owned abandoned cemetery, he won’t give up until they step in.
Mayor Kathy Sheehan’s office got back to NEWS10 ABC, and said “if there should there be any code violations, they will cite the owner of the cemetery.”
Smith, on the other hand, doesn’t expect the city to take over the cleanup, and he’s fine with that. He said he’ll be back to plant a new bed of flowers on his hill come Springtime in Albany.