Sure, guys just want to have fun too but it can’t be all about beer and burgers. Especially when you’ve resurrected a fast-growing community page on Facebook dedicated just to dads in the Three Village area.
That’s what Stony Brook resident David Tracy thought as the group approaches 1,000 members.
“We were coming to a consensus on the page that as we were getting much larger and more robust we should do some more positive things,” Tracy told GreaterPortJeff.
So Tracy put out a poll on the page to test the waters and ask members to think of a cause they could raise money for. He stressed it had to be something where members could actually see the fruit of their labor. It had to be local.
The poll results were conclusive. Overwhelmingly, the guys chose Stony Brook Children’s Hospital as their charity getting 40 percent of the votes. (The East Setauket VFW came in second place.)
With their sights set on the hospital, the guys had just one problem.
“Who do we talk to?” said Tracy.
Luckily, Googling the number for the Children’s Hospital got them in touch with just the right person. Tracy connected with Joan Alpers, director of Child Life Services at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
Child Life Services is a part of Stony Brook Hospital that focuses on making a child’s stay less stressful and even a little more fun.
“They normalize a child’s experience in the hospital to make it a better experience,” explained Tracy. “So it’s not just a place where they get medical attention.”
According to Stony Brook Hospital’s website, the department incorporates play into a child’s visit using real or toy medical equipment helping to prepare children for medical treatment.
Alpers convinced the guys from Three Village Dads that they had made the right decision.
“It was almost like I picked the perfect number to call,” Tracy said. “She gave me the lowdown on the program she runs focusing on improving the lives of children who are in a lengthy stay at the hospital.”
Tracy still had reservations. He didn’t want any money they raised to be assumed into a general budget. He wanted the donation to make a difference. Alpers arranged a tour of the Children’s Hospital for Tracy and other members of the group.
“It really brought it home because you see where the money is going to go,” Tracy said. “So many times you give money to an organization you don’t know where it will go. Our money will have a direct effect on the lives of children.”
Alpers was also impressed by the guys.
“It is never easy to coordinate a giving event but the Three Village Dads certainly went above and beyond all expectations,” she said in a statement to GreaterPortJeff.
A potluck barbecue (photos below) that the group had already planned became the centerpiece for the fundraiser along with a GoFundMe page. They solicited cash and food from local business owners in exchange for space on an advertising board at the event.
Around 200 people showed up at South Setauket Park on a beautiful Saturday in May.
Members of the community page volunteer at local fire departments so Stony Brook and Setauket fire engines showed up. They had yard games, food and a 50/50 raffle that helped raise $1,100 dollars during the event. (The winner of the raffle donated the prize money back to the cause.)
“Luckily, it was the best the day of the year,” Tracy said. “It was a really good all-around turnout.”
Three Village Dads had set what they thought was an ambitious goal to raise $5,000 for the hospital. Along with a raffle for Three Village Dads t-shirts that raised another $500, the dads were pretty proud of themselves. But, the guys wanted more.
They wanted to reach their goal.
Tracy said that he set up a GoFundMe fundraiser about a week before the barbeque to help members reach out to people who were in their social network but not part of the page. (The group is dads only and Tracy has said he is good at rooting out spies.)
It worked. The GoFundMe propelled them past their goal, contributing another $8,500 to the fundraiser.
In total, the Three Village Dads Facebook Page donated $12,000 to the Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
It’s clear to Tracy that the purpose of the page has evolved. While, the page is still a vehicle for local dads to let off steam, get together in real life and also promote their businesses, it has also become much more.
“It was just beers and burgers. A way for men to congregate in the social media world,” he said. “Because we got so big we said let’s do something more positive.”
Through the sheer force of its members, the page has reached viral status when measured on a local level.
“We have shirts and we are visible in the community. We even have beer glasses,” he said. “It’s kind of exploded.”
Alpers is grateful that the dads have stepped up to help brighten the lives of the kids and families who come to Stony Brook Children’s Hospital.
“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,” she said.
Scenes from the fundraiser at South Setauket Park below