DRYDEN, N.Y.—Second Wind Cottages has been slowly expanding from its original footprint in Newfield, where the facility that is intended to provide a sober living environment for those trying to overcome addiction and homelessness has sat on seven acres of land for nearly eight years.

That development has always catered solely to men, though, which has long bothered founder Carmen Guidi. He has reiterated recently that Second Wind’s goal is to “help people,” not just one half of the population, which has led to the organization’s most recent effort: building a house on West Main Street in Dryden that will have space for four units of women (and potentially children) in a newly constructed building who are fighting the same struggles that Second Wind’s first development helps with.

Guidi led an event at the future site of the project on Wednesday, talking about Second Wind’s mission before a crowd of about a dozen people in near-freezing temperatures. He was joined by John Carter, of New Vine Records, Tompkins County Legislator Martha Robertson, Dryden Town Supervisor Jason Leifer, Pastor Chuck Tompkins of Yielded Evangelical Services and Guidi’s brother, Dino, a Second Wind resident.

The point of the event was to kick off a fundraising drive aimed at propelling Second Wind to raise enough money to build the house, which is set on a fairly small lot on one of Dryden’s main routes.

“We cannot do this alone, it’s too much of an undertaking,” Carmen Guidi said. That’s where the community donations come in. Second Wind has secured an anonymous donor that is willing to match up to $60,000 in funding towards the new project, a goal that Second Wind is trying to reach before the end of the year. Donation information is available here.

Carter announced New Vine’s annual gala, Artists With a Cause, which this year will hold a large party on New Year’s Eve that will celebrate the end of 2021 and double as a way to financially support Second Wind. The party will be at the CSMA on East State Street in Ithaca from 7:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

In a prior interview, Guidi said that while the initial project will only house four units, the idea is to continue to expand elsewhere with more units for women. There simply isn’t space on the West Main Street lot to build a growing cottage community like Second Wind has established in Newfield behind Guidi’s Collison Services, but Guidi wanted to jump on a location when it became available—the lot was donated after the previous building there was badly burned in a fire.

Deb Wilke, who is the Homeless Crisis Alleviation Coordinator for Second Wind, said she was glad to see Second Wind expanding its service population and, thus, open more opportunities to combat the hopelessness that some women feel when homelessness destroys their families.

“When women are housed, they have the opportunity to be reunited with their children,” Wilke said. “It’s a neighborhood here, and I’m very excited to see the potential and what will happen.”

Guidi further spoke about the encouragement he took from entities like the Village and Town of Dryden both being supportive of the project, especially considering the resistance that supportive housing projects can often encounter among neighbors and municipal governments. That support was highlighted by Leifer’s comments to the crowd and the attendance of Village of Dryden Mayor Mike Murphy.

“Warehousing people doesn’t work. They need support, they need help. I don’t know about you all, but I need help, I need people in my life, I need relationships. Otherwise, I’m not going to make it,” Guidi said. “That may not sound like a strong man up here, but that’s okay, I don’t need to. I need people. Everyone needs people. That’s what Second Wind is really about.”

A picture of the building lot on West Main Street in Dryden. (Photo by Matt Butler)

Matt Butler

Matt Butler is the Education & Public Health Reporter at the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached by email at mbutler@ithacavoice.com