By HEATHER NELLIS
The Knights of Columbus Council 209 in Amsterdam Saturday embarked on a new era.
Joined by dignitaries, community members, and fellow knights from across the region, The Rev. John Medwid of St. Mary’s Church blessed the council’s new building at 193 W. Main St.
The building was purchased roughly 10 months ago, and underwent massive rehabilitation thanks to the membership, and the volunteerism of many area tradesmen and apprentices corralled by Grand Knight Jeffrey Stark.
“You people have no idea the amount of time and labor this man put into this building,” Knight Peter Capobianco said of Stark. “If you saw it when we first acquired it, you wouldn’t believe the transition, both inside and outside. I cannot express to you my admiration for him, and what he’s done here.”
Capobianco said the building is important in attracting new members, and in stationing the charitable Catholic organization, which also focuses on unity, fraternity and patriotism.
The city’s knights were without a headquarters since selling its former building eight years ago, because of its size, and difficulty in its upkeep with an aging and dwindling membership.
There are roughly a dozen left of the Amsterdam council, which was started in 1897, but Stark said they’ve gained four in the past month and a half.
The group is desperate for more, Stark said, and young members at that, in ensuring it’s viability in the future. Not only for restoration of Catholic faith and principles of the Knights of Columbus, but for a positive impact in the community, Stark said.
“This building is not only for us. It will be open for the community to use for things like birthday parties, and wedding showers and baby showers,” Stark said. “We really want to make a difference in this neighborhood, and have something that the neighbors, and Amsterdam itself, would be very proud to have us as neighbors.”
In the future, Stark hopes the group will be able to purchase an adjacent city-owned property, restore backyard bocce and horseshoe courts, and build a pavilion.
“Thank you to the Knights of Columbus for this enterprise,” said Mayor Ann Thane. “It’s important to the city in so many ways. So much focus goes on what is deteriorating or lacking, but, in fact, there are many of us out in the community every day making this a better city. This location is ideal in the West End when we look at our revitalization. We see the positive impact this has already had in this neighborhood.”
Others who spoke at the event were Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, who said he is joining the group, and Julia Caro on behalf of state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk, D-Duanesburg.
Those interested in learning more about the organization can visit the local charter at their new facility on the second Monday of the month at 6:30 p.m. Or, call Stark at 339-0423.