Sandy Dooley and SBPD Sergeant Dave MacDonough were presented with awards for making a difference in their community at the Champlain Housing Trust annual meeting. 

Champions of Affordable Housing: Dooley and MacDonough Honored by CHT

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Thursday February 16, 2017

Longtime South Burlington resident Sandy Dooley and South Burlington Police Department (SBPD) Sergeant Dave MacDonough were recently honored at the Champlain Housing Trust’s (CHT) annual meeting and awards presentation held at the Hilton in Burlington. CHT, which was founded in 1984, is the largest community land trust in the country. Their mission is to strengthen communities through the development and stewardship of permanently affordable homes. Through their passionate community service, Dooley and MacDonough were recognized for exemplifying CHT’s mission of providing safe, inclusive, decent, and attractive housing choices for all people. Approximately 250 people were in attendance at the event as Dooley was presented the Hilton Wick Award and Sergeant MacDonough received special recognition for his unique contribution to CHT’s mission.

Dooley was presented her award by CHT President of the Board of Directors Sarah Muyskens, who said, “The fruits of Sandra’s diligence and hard work are most evident in the spectacular growth in our Cornerstone Luncheon participation and donations under her leadership. Sandy leads by example, recruiting ever-increasing numbers of volunteers and supporters and providing them with the proven methods and tools that she has developed as a champion fundraiser.”

“This is an amazing organization. It makes asking people to support CHT an act of enthusiasm and joy,” says Dooley. She continues, “My wish is that the market would provide ample, safe, and attractive housing at prices that make housing affordable to folks at all income levels. Sadly, it does not. So here we are.” At the awards ceremony, Dooley made a point to thank her committee members, her husband, “who never complains about the many night meetings,” and CHT’s Director of Community Relations Chris Donnelly, “You are my rock star. Your support makes my job easy.”

Dooley’s award is also called the “give until it feels good” fundraising award and was created in memory of Hilton Wick’s extensive fundraising on CHT’s behalf. Dooley, who has been a member of the CHT Board of Directors since 2011, is well known as a longtime proponent of affordable housing. She says her interest in the cause began early in her career when she worked with families receiving financial assistance. Dooley remembers, “I saw how much of their income, often more than 50 percent, these families paid for housing and what a burden it was. I was sensitized to what an obstacle not having affordable housing was to these families getting ahead.”

CHT Chief Executive Officer Brenda Torpy says, “Sandy is the South Burlington representative on our board of directors, appointed by the city council. In addition to excelling as our chief fundraiser, Sandy is an exemplary board member and ambassador for affordable housing in her own city and beyond, giving freely of her time and skills to CHT.”

Dooley reports she still continues to fundraise, but more importantly, she says, by chairing the Community Relations Committee, “I hope I inspire others to do fundraising for CHT.” When asked what are her fundraising secrets, she incidentally also speaks to her deep connection and commitment to affordable housing, “Have an organization or cause that you support passionately and then practice. Being good at fundraising can be learned.”

The award given to SBPD Sergeant Dave MacDonough was, as Torpy described, “A special recognition for a unique contribution to our mission.” MacDonough volunteered to be the liaison to the residents of Beacon Apartments, a community of renters who had all previously been chronically homeless and chronically ill. His award reads, “For his compassionate community policing and for making Beacon Apartments a better and safer place to call home, with appreciation from the board and staff of CHT.”

Torpy says, “Good community policing is a really important component of these residents’ transition from living in the woods and transiency to having permanent homes and being fully integrated into their community.” She continues, “Sergeant MacDonough has built relationships and can diffuse situations that could undermine the quality of life at Beacon and is helping to make it a truly great place to live.”

MacDonough says it was humbling to receive an award for the work he does. “I was honored to be recognized for helping members of our community, however, I can’t take all of the credit. The staff at Beacon, and my fellow officers, worked just as hard to move the program in a positive direction. Working with the residents helped me develop a new level of trust with them. The residents have been somewhat removed from a certain quality of life due to a series of unfortunate life events. By working as the liaison, I made an effort to show the residents of Beacon that they are equal members of our community and entitled to the same quality of life we hold sacred.”

At the awards ceremony, Torpy expressed her appreciation for the SPBD, “Sergeant McDonough is exemplary of the tremendous welcome that South Burlington has extended to this new community, and CHT was delighted that he and Chief Whipple were able to join us at our annual meeting so that we could show our appreciation to the force and the city, and to let our members see the tremendous support for affordable housing that we have experienced time and again from South Burlington.”

Dooley, who is ever vigilant to the need of affordable housing for all, notes, “Many folks are under the impression that the lack of affordable housing is a problem for only the individual families and households affected. This is incorrect. Our entire society, including our economy, is adversely impacted by the lack of affordable housing.” She adds, “I want to thank all the Community Relations committee members and everyone else who has ever raised funds for CHT. This is a team effort.”