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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Stony Brook Auxiliary Continues to Lend a Helping Hand

On the third floor of the second building in Jefferson’s Ferry, a small elderly apartment complex off of Route 347 lives a woman who is a mother of one and was once a journalist. Her roommate is a black cat that goes by the name of Lucy — named after its predecessor, also Lucy — that makes use of its time by weaving in and out of the potted plants that are on the counters that divide the kitchen and living room. The radio is tuned to a classical music station that provides brief segments from National Public Radio. The walls are covered in paintings – some of cats and some of places around the world.


On the gold colored plush couch is Caroline Levine and over the course of almost 30 years, she has been active an member of the Stony Brook Auxiliary and currently as the president of the Auxiliary, an organization that lends a helping hand to the Stony Brook Hospital so that it may do the same for the patients that come through its doors.


When the Auxiliary was a young organization, Levine was asked if she would like to help and more than willingly agreed.


“I thought, ‘Well, I’ve always been interested in volunteer service and I worked but I always wanted to do volunteer work,” said Levine, who did some volunteer work while she was in graduate school. “I thought this was wonderful and it’s been very satisfying and, of course, as the years went on and I grew older I had serious illnesses and Stony Brook saved my life. So, I still feel a debt of gratitude for what they did and so it’s a really good feeling to give back.”


Through donations from roughly 300 members of the Auxiliary and other members of the community, the organization has become one that has raised the funds to support the hospital. The objective, Levine said, “is to help the hospital obtain things to benefit patient care for which they don’t have money.”


“We are a fundraising arm for the hospital,” Levine said. The organization works in numerous ways to raise funds for the hospital to buy equipment such as ambulances and heart monitoring equipment, like the Cardio Q. Throughout the years the group has donated more than $6 million to the hospital, with the most recent donation of $10,000 to the newly established Children’s Hospital. They have raised the funds in ways such as vendor sales that can be seen in the hallways of the hospital, new and used sales and annual membership dues. They also work in conjunction with the gift shop in the main lobby of the hospital. From July 2009 to April 2010, $85,422 net funds were generated from the gift shop, according to the Auxiliary’s annual report.


“I wish we could do more,” Levine said. “I wish we could get more funds.” Levine added that the Auxiliary does not ask for money from major corporations because “it wouldn’t be right if [they] are thinking about a company that [they] want to buy from because it wouldn’t be right. It wouldn’t be ethical.”


Because of the recent major budget cuts of almost $55 million in operating expenses that have happened to the hospital, Levine said that they are going to work harder to continue supporting and supplying the hospital with equipment that benefits patient care.


“We can’t walk alone, that’s the reality,” Levine said. “The cuts that are happening are just so sad because I don’t think that politicians know what they’re doing.” The Auxiliary is doing more to get additional volunteers to join the organization. Not only do the members pay an annual fee of $25, but they can also offer new fundraising ideas.


“It’s people who have to make an effort and realize that their participation is vital and that a handful of people can’t do it all,” Levine said. “What one person does impacts on another; we’re all a part of a community and we have to help each other.” She added that while some current members don’t volunteer but continue to donate money to the organization.


With the help of the donations from members of the Auxiliary, the community and patients, three ambulances, a mammogram machine and other equipment has been given to the hospital. Levine said that she did not know if patients and their families were made aware of the Auxiliary after they had been released from the hospital. None of the future major purchases could be discussed while they were still in the planning process.


The group not only donates to the hospital, but also sponsors events that promote well-being. In the up-coming months, they will be planning a free dermatology screening at a beach on Memorial Day. This is event is important to Levine because she was diagnosed with skin cancer in the past and had a “big chunk” of her nose removed; as a result, she puts on sunscreen every day and urges everybody to do the same.


Levine added that the most memorable moments of her time with the Auxiliary are the times that the board voted to buy new equipment or donate to a certain area of the hospital because it promotes the organization’s mission.


“I go back to my old philosophy that without good health, you have nothing,” she added.


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