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YMCA Toasts Scituate Couple’s Efforts

RANDOLPH, MASS (March 2009) — In 1990, when Hurricane Bob ran through Cape Cod, it was hard to imagine that any good would come from the storm’s destruction at the South Shore YMCA’s Sandwich Summer Camps.

But in planning to camp’s rebuilding, Scituate resident Dave Keefe enlisted the help of his friend Mark Dickinson, a real estate developer.

That project opened Dickinson’s eyes to the community good done by the YMCA, and began a relationship between Dickinson, his wife Michele, and the YMCA that has lead to the Dickinson’s being honored tonight at the YMCA”s Taste of the South Shore event at Lombardo’s in Randolph.

Mark Dickinson has been a YMCA member since his youth, but he said that before he was recruited to help with the rebuilding of the YMCA Summer Camps, he didn’t know the amount of help the organization gave to needy families in the community.

“I didn’t know this, I was a member”, he said, “I worked out and played basketball.” In helping to rebuild the camp, he was impressed, specifically, that the YMCA has a policy of never turning away a family that cannot afford membership. That policy struck a cord with the man who said he was only able to attend Amherst College because of need-based scholarships.

After the rebuilding was over, Mark joined the YMCA Board f Directors and he’s served there ever since.

According to Jill Donovan, South Shore YMCA Director of Annual Giving, the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign, which raises money to benefit local children, grew from annual donations of just $7,000 when Dickinson joined the force, to now raising over $1Million annually under Mark Dickinson’s leadership.

As her husband got involved in raising money, Michele Dickinson used what her husband calls her “great organizational skills” to take over the stewardship of a handful of YMCA fund raising events, including the Enchanted Evening Gala.

Mark and Michele will be honored at the 13th Annual Taste of the South Shore on Thursday, March 26 at Lombardo’s in Randolph at 6PM. For $100, attendees will sample food from restaurants and bakeries throughout the South Shore. Proceeds from the event will go to help the YMCA provide services, from memberships to food pantry and day care to families who could not otherwise afford it.

And according to Donovan, in these times of economic downturn, the YMCA has seen an unprecedented level of need.

Though happy to be helping toward those same goals that drew them to serve the organization in the first place, the night’s honorees aren’t used to the attention.

“My wife is terribly embarrassed,” Mark Dickinson said, “My first reaction is “Why me? There’s a lot of people who do a lot of good.”

Founded in 1980, Dickinson Development is a full-service commercial real estate development and project management consulting firm based in Quincy, Mass.

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