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Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

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Three Village Dads present check to Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

It may be Father’s Day June 16, but some local dads recently decided they would try a little giving instead of receiving.

Members of the Three Village Dads Facebook page stop for a photo after presenting Stony Brook Children’s Hospital with a check for $12,000. Photo from Stony Brook Medicine

On June 3, members of the Facebook page Three Village Dads presented a check for $12,000 to Joan Alpers, director of Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital. The group raised the money at a May 18 South Setauket Park barbecue and through a GoFundMe page. Child Life Services provides therapeutic, educational and recreational activities for children during hospital stays.

“It is never easy to coordinate a giving event, but the Three Village Dads certainly went above and beyond all expectations,” Alpers said. “Our community donors help us to brighten the lives of kids and families during a difficult time. We are so grateful to this great group of community dads who chose to support all of the children in our community who struggle with illness and hospitalization.”

Three Village Dads started six years ago as an offshoot of Three Village Moms. A year later, Stony Brook resident David Tracy joined. When he noticed there were only 20 or 30 members, and there wasn’t much interaction on the page, he asked the founder if he could take over as administrator.

Tracy said the fathers talk about a range of topics from advice on lawn care to sports to politics and nothing is off limits. The group now has more than 900 members.

“Once we got stronger and larger, we realized we could do a lot of good with it,” said the former Marine, who now works for Homeland Security.

The dads regularly meet at businesses owned by members, including O Sole Mio and Sweet Mama’s in Stony Brook, Maui Chop House in Rocky Point and Rolling Smoke Grill in Lake Ronkonkoma. Tracy said the group recently began discussing how they could contribute to the Three Village community.

“Once we got stronger and larger, we realized we could do a lot of good with it.”

— David Tracy

Three Village Dads was planning a potluck barbecue to get all of the families together, so they decided to use the event as an opportunity to raise money for a nonprofit. After polling the members as to which organization they would like to contribute, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital was the most popular answer. Tracy said $8,500 was collected through GoFundMe, and more than 30 businesses that participated in the barbecue donated food or money to be part of the event. The group also raised money by selling raffles.

“I didn’t think we’d get past $5,000 much less $12,000,” Tracy said, adding that the achievement was eye-opening for him as far as the group’s potential.

The day of the barbecue about 200 attended throughout the day, which included fire trucks from the Setauket and Stony Brook fire departments, bouncy houses, a DJ and more.

“We’ve really built a sense of community, and there’s a good camaraderie with all the dads on the page to really come together and support the community and community businesses.”

— Chris Carson

Chris Carson, who has belonged to the group for three years, helped Tracy plan the barbecue. The South Setauket resident, who works for Suffolk County, said the more the fundraiser picked up steam the more drive the group had to raise more money and make the goal higher.

“We’d hit the goal, and instead of stopping or patting ourselves on the back, we just set a higher goal for ourselves and kept moving forward and try to do as much as we could,” Carson said.

The dads are hoping to hold an annual barbecue and are currently discussing future events to help in the community, the county employee said, including a golf outing to benefit the VFW Post 3054 East Setauket on Jones Street and a toy drive during the holiday season.

“We’ve really built a sense of community, and there’s a good camaraderie with all the dads on the page to really come together and support the community and community businesses,” Carson said.

The barbecue wasn’t the group’s first good deed. Earlier this year, 55 members donated blood and platelets at Stony Brook University Hospital’s blood bank.

“We look out for each other. We look out for each other’s families.”

— Colby Rowe

Colby Rowe, Trauma Center Education & Prehospital outreach coordinator at Stony Brook Medicine, said donating blood at the hospital is essential since supplies are low.

A member of Three Village Dads since last year, Rowe said he appreciated how many of the dads donated, adding that many who couldn’t donate came out to support the others.

“It made me feel great not only because I’m a member of the community, a member of the group but I’m also an employee of the hospital,” he said. “It made me proud to be part of each one of those organizations.”

The turnout didn’t surprise him as he said the members are always helpful whether asking for advice or looking to borrow power tools or a beaker for a science project.

“We really are a productive group of people,” he said. “We look out for each other. We look out for each other’s families.”

Rowe said the group plans on organizing three blood drives a year with the next one scheduled for the end of June.

When it comes to creating a group like Three Village Dads, Tracy said it takes more than just one person to make it successful and credits all of the members for playing a part in the success.

“You really can’t force it,” he said. “It’s kind of a natural thing, and it has to take shape on its own.”

To join the page, which is open to dads, brothers, uncles, grandfathers and sons of the Three Village Central School District, visit www.facebook.com and search for Three Village Dads.