Joan Dickinson, director of community relations for Stony Brook University, recently won the Presidential Excellence Award from the International Town & Gown Association (ITGA), presented in recognition of outstanding leadership through volunteer service or educational achievement.
Dickinson was honored for her role in the #InThisTogether campaign, a COVID–related donation and project management system that, according to the ITGA, “not only positively impacted the community but improved the daily existence of frontline healthcare workers and caregivers.”
As the pandemic began to rage in March 2020, personal protective equipment (PPE) was in short supply and Stony Brook Medicine’s network of hospitals — which includes Stony Brook University Hospital, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook Southampton Hospital and Stony Brook Eastern Long Island Hospital — were on the frontline and needed support. People in the community, however, rallied and wanted to help.
“People started showing up randomly to donate,” Dickinson said. “This was not even a project. It was a confluence of events. Once people started hearing about the hospital workers burning through PPE — which is critical — they wanted to help.”
Michael Arens, assistant vice president of government and community relations at Stony Brook, submitted a nomination to ITGA on Dickinson’s behalf. In it, he noted her “true gift for bringing a large variety of community groups together.”
Dickinson directed a team–driven donation drive that collected or coordinated the following:
• 818,250 units of personal protective equipment
• 33,500 comfort care items
• 18,000 meals delivered through an online Meal Train program
• 575 video messages of comfort
• 435 iPads that were collected to help patients connect virtually with their families at a time when they couldn’t be with them in person.
Dickinson also created a quick–turnaround event for Easter 2020 that let hospital workers “who barely had time to breathe” grab plastic eggs, Godiva chocolates, plants, coloring books and more, in order to celebrate some semblance of a holiday. “Thanks to Joan’s ability to mobilize volunteers from student affairs, the president’s office, the alumni relations office, career center and community relations, many hospital workers had a reason to smile that day,” Arens said.
Read the complete story at the ITGA website.