Gifts both small and large can make a huge difference to a stranger in need. One local woman has spent her life helping others, and her kindness spread until it became the group known as the Street Soldiers.
Renee Fahey hugs every one of the people who come each Friday night to Washington Park in Albany. She knows most of them by name. She knows if they’re homeless, and she knows what they need. They call out to Renee, and line up patiently at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, waiting while an army of volunteers set out food, clothes and toiletries.
Soon they are filling their bags. There is no judgment here, just kindness.
Tim is waiting to fill up his bag.
“Look at all of these people trying to help you,” he said. “That’s God. Someone looking out for you.”
Tim has been coming since Street Soldiers began more than a year and a half ago. Renee even helped him get into treatment, and now he is 54 days sober.
“I am trying to get my life back together,” he said.
And the Street Soldiers are here to help.
When Renee was younger, she would have her Mom drive her up to Albany to deliver food to the homeless. Now her husband is her right hand man, and more than two dozen volunteers join her almost every Friday.
They have come to care about each other as much as the homeless population they are serving.
“They’ve made a difference in our lives,” Renee said. “It’s like this every Friday.”
It all began in the Fahey’s Selkirk home back in September of 2016.
“It was a four-by-four card table with a box of sandwiches and a cup of soup,” Mike said. “I don’t think either one of us pictured where it would lead.”
Now cars can’t park the garage. Instead, it is filled with clothes, snacks and backpacks. Boxes are delivered daily from Street Soldiers Amazon Wishlist. Volunteers constantly buying something the group needs. If someone requests it on a Friday night, Mike and Renee will get it!
“There’s absolutely no red tape with us. If you need it and we have it, it is yours.”
That is what Albany Police love about Street Soldiers. No red tape!
“If I find someone on the street who needs a new pair of shoes, I just text Renee, and she’ll get it,” Albany Officer Brian Hawley said.
The same goes for St. Catherine’s Center for Children. They have all become partners to help the homeless.
And if you ask the people Renee helps how they feel about her, here’s what they had to say: “Renee is like an angel. She’s not ordinary. I’ve never met anyone like her!”