Community Discussion Panel on Consumer Directed Personal Assistance

An Educational Discussion About Consumer Directed Personal Assistance. With guest speakers Denise DiNoto of Consumer Directed Choices, Inc. and Denise Figueroa of the Independent Living Center of the Hudson Valley. Moderated by A Block at a Time co-founder Zach Garafalo


Community Partnership Award

Today during Catholic School Week Mass, Co-founder Dannielle Hille accepted the Community Partnership Award , presented to A Block at a Time for her work helping the victims of the August 2019 fire on Myrtle Avenue. A Block at a Time is honored to receive this award today along with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany and The Mansion Neighborhood Association. The award was presented by the Very Reverend Robert Longobucco, V.G. (Vicar for the Faith Formation and Education) and Mr. Giovanni Virgiglio Jr., Superintendent of Schools.


The Covenant to Education calls us to engage community organizations in partnership for the betterment of our schools. This award is given to recognize a community partner for their commitment to Catholic School Education.

ABAAT to Receive Community Service Award

On Sunday, January 26, 2020 at 2:00 PM at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, A Block at A Time will receive the Community Partner Award from Diocese of Albany Catholic Schools for Co-Founder Dannielle Hille‘s work in the wake of the devastating fire that displaced 14 families on August 23, 2019. After a successful response, Dannielle created ABAAT Helps to ensure an even quicker response in the future. Thank you to the Diocese of Albany for this recognition.

October 9th Meeting Recap and Video Footage

On October 9, 2019 A Block at at Time held a community meeting on “The State of the Albany Police Department and the Future of Community Policing” with Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Albany Police Officers Union President Greg McGee. The full meeting video is below. During this meeting we learned some important information which residents should be aware of (italicized information was added to provide additional information):

  • There is a nationwide shortage of police officers
  • Albany is struggling to recruit and retain police officers
  • The Albany Police Department is responsible for the 911 dispatch center which is budgeted for 30 dispatchers. Currently:
    • 13 dispatchers down leaving us with just 26 dispatchers
    • 1 dispatcher just put in their 2 week notice (leaving use with 25)
    • 1 is going out on medical leave (leaving use with 24)
    • 5 new hires in training (bribing us up to 29 after training)
    • Dispatchers are working 70+ hours per week
  • The Albany Police Department is budgeted for 340 sworn officers, of which 272 are officers and detectives (non-command staff). Currently:
    • 53 down leaving us with 219 officers and detectives
    • Of those 219
      • 52 are detectives (leaving 167 officers)
      • 5 are on long term medical leave (leaving 162)
      • 3 are on active military leave (leaving 159)
      • 3 are suspended (leaving 156)
      • 54 are in specialized units like the training academy, NEU (Neighborhood Engagement Unit = beat officers), ect… (leaving 102 patrol officers)
      • This leaves 102 patrol officers
    • Albany needs 63 officers per 24 hour to meet minimum staffing resulting in many new officers being repeatedly mandated to work double shifts and many days in a row without time off.
      • Some general increased risks of overworked staff include:
        • increased stress
        • increased accidents
        • decreased work performance
        • poor health habits
        • increased health risks
          • burnout
          • higher risk of depression
          • increased risk of suicide
        • quality of life issues
          • increased risk of home and family issues
        • the list goes on…
    • Of the 287 sworn officers (including command staff)
      • 28 officers and detectives can retire today
      • 6 more officers and detectives can retire in 2020
      • 22 command staff can retire today
    • Since December 2018 APD has lost
      • 6 bosses
      • 14 officers and detectives have retied
      • 8 officers quit
      • 2 officer completed training and quit
      • 3 left for personal reasons
      • 3 went to trades
      • 3 went to Watervliet
      • 1 to Guilderland (2 in the last 5 years)
      • 2 to State Troopers (12 in the last 5 years)
      • 1 to Peekskill
      • In the last 5 years, additional officers have been lost to other agencies after receiving training from Albany, paid for by residents. There are currently 14 APD officers processing for the NYS State Police.

A Block at a Time would like to thank Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, Albany Police Department Chief Eric Hawkins and Albany Police Officers Union President Greg McGee for joining the discussion and working with the community to address issues in our city.

Left to right: Chief Hawkins, Zach Garafalo (ABAAT), APOU President McGee, Dannielle Hille (ABAAT), Albany Mayor Sheehan.
Albany Mayor Sheehan, Chief Hawkins and APOU President McGee during opening remarks.



ABAAT is currently working to build a digital street team to manage a community calendar.

Type of position: Volunteer

Hours: minimum of 5 hours per week

Duration: Ongoing

Details: team members will access a group email account to

  1. Send outreach emails to area organizations, neighborhood associations and other entities that host events in the City of Albany to encourage them to send ABAAT there upcoming events and volunteer opportunities on an ongoing basis.
  2. Process events received in the group email. Transfer details and flyers into a Google Calendar for BLK Bulletin Board. Once posted, team member will mark email as completed.
  3. Process emails with volunteer opportunities. Transfer details and flyers into a Google Calendar for Volunteer Albany
  4. Log/updated agency information in a google sheet.

And that’s it! If you are looking for a flexible volunteer opportunity, this is for YOU. You can send and process emails any time of the day. You can spend as many extra hours as you would like, as long as you spend at least 5 hours a week. Your outreach work will help ABAAT compile a directory of service providers, community organizations, committees, groups and religious institution programs.

Email us a half page telling us why this volunteer position is perfect for you

Thank you to the families, elected officials and department heads

ABAAT would like to extend a special thank you to the victims and their families, elected officials and department heads who joined us last night to discuss the Myrtle Avenue Fire. We had a wonderful discussion and Identified the following points to begin addressing the issue.

  • Increase communication between the County and the City to ensure everyone is on the same page
  • NIXLE notifications for fires and building demolitions
  • Boarding of County seized building. On the back of the building, the day of lock out and on the front of the building after 3 failed lockups
  • Protocol to ensure the Mayor’s office provides the same amount of exposure/airtime to any multi-family fire not prohibited by law

Thank you to the following Elected Officials, Department Heads and staff:

  • City of Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan
  • City Fire Chief Joseph Gregory
  • City Buildings & Regulatory Compliance Director Rick LaJoy
  • City Police South Station Commander Jim Gallagher
  • Assemblymember John McDonald III
  • Senator Neil Breslin
  • County Exec. Director of Policy & Research Mike McLaughlin
  • City Neighborhood Stabilization Coordinator Sam Wells