On October 19 Family Residences and Essential Enterprises, Inc. (FREE) — an organization that supports more than 4,000 individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities, mental illness and traumatic brain injury —honored Stony Brook University at its annual gala and at the Bourne Mansion in Oakdale.
The gala is a fundraising event for FREE and pays tribute to outstanding leaders that have supported their mission and have made remarkable contributions to the community. Stony Brook’s School of Professional Development (SPD) and FREE partnered up in the fall of last year to discuss FREE’s training and organizational development needs.
SPD pursued a new initiative to develop a Human Services division based on the educational partnership with FREE and has had great success. Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and Master of Science in Human Resource Management graduate programs are now offered on-site at FREE.
“After only a few brief meetings and a little negotiation, SBU and FREE launched one of the most exciting and groundbreaking collaborative degree programs in the country,” said Dr. Christopher Long, President of FREE, at the gala. “Presently, 40 of FREE’s valued team members are participating in these degree programs designed to expand their intellectual horizons and extend their range of professional experience while meeting their own personal career/educational goals.”
The SBU Career Center and College of Business have become involved by referring current and graduating students for employment with FREE. College job fairs are now regularly including FREE and a number of FREE employees serve on Stony Brook’s graduate faculty.
“Additionally, our partnership has led us to create non-credit, career development programs in nutrition and leadership designed to empower and further develop our teams,” added Dr. Long. “I can assure you that there is much more to come in the future.”
The University Professional and Continuing Education Association recognized this partnership and honored SPD with its Engagement Award earlier this year. At the gala, FREE continued to praise its Stony Brook University partners including SPD, Graduate School, College of Business and Career Center by awarding them the 2017 Community Impact Award.
Dr. Charles Taber, Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, accepted the award on behalf of the University. “The vibrant partnership between FREE and Stony Brook was born of our complementary missions… Based on this natural synergy, FREE and SBU have enjoyed a long and strong relationship,” he said.
Other members who attended the gala from Stony Brook included Dean Ken Lindblom from the School of Professional Development, Assistant Dean Carolyn Jankowski from Human Services Programs, and representatives from the College of Business and Career Center.
— Cohen Miles-Rath, Community Relations