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For this successful 2020 woman, putting her own health at risk to deliver food during a pandemic is a “joy”

By on March 23, 2021 0

Editor’s Note: This profile is one in a series of stories about the women of Staten Island who have outdone themselves during the coronavirus pandemic. These are women who have played a vital role in maintaining vital functions as the health crisis hits our community, our city and our nation. Staten Island Advance / is proud to dedicate its annual Women of Achievement program, established in 1964 and celebrated annually since, to these local heroes; we call it Staten Island Women of Achievement 2020 – The Front Line. Congratulations to this Woman of Success 2020: Antoinette Donegan.

STATEN ISLAND, NY – It was at the start of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), when Antoinnette Donegan received a call indicating that food had been donated to the Central Family Life Center for delivery to families on the Coast. -North in need.

Like many people on Staten Island at the height of the pandemic, Donegan was spending most of his time at home to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. But the Mariners Harbor resident, 60, who is the community coordinator of Central Family Life Center and minister associated with First Central Baptist Church, Stapleton, quickly took action.

She spoke with Reverend Dr. Demetrius Carolina Sr. – the church’s pastor and executive director of the center – to develop a plan to benefit older people in need across the North Shore.

“Someone said they donated meals or boxes,” Donegan said. “I said, ‘Okay, pastor, I’m coming to Life Center, give me a list of who I’m delivering to,’ and I was in quarantine myself. I made a few calls and went to Cassidy Place [NYCHA Cassidy/Lafayette Senior Center] and I delivered a few meals.

And she made sure to make the delivery process as safe and transparent as possible at NYCHA and several North Shore senior facilities, by making contactless deliveries to residents.

“I had so much fun delivering these meals with my face mask and gloves on, and delivering these meals to their front door,” she said. “When I say I had fun, it was the best afternoon. I was tired, I was exhausted, but it was the best I had. And that’s how awareness is going for me. I’ll be tired, just exhausted… but then I wonder why I’m exhausted. It brings me joy.

Donegan explained that his Central Family Life Center team is focused in the Stapleton area, but has traveled where needed, especially during the pandemic. (Staten Island Advance / Jan Somma-Hammel)


Donegan has long been known as the “resource person” in the Côte-Nord community. She identifies new community groups and public or private initiatives to build relationships, manages community partnerships and organizes events.

She serves as a mentor providing information to the community and encouraging residents to take care of their health and well-being. Donegan hosts a quarterly Women’s Empowerment Tea with guest speakers, treats and freebies. It also offers programs and events on topics such as domestic violence, breast cancer awareness and HIV / AIDS.

Most recently, she took on the role of Program Manager for the Test and Trace Corps through NYC Health and Hospitals at the Central Life Family Center, as part of a grant awarded to several community organizations across town.

Donegan explained that his team at the Central Family Life Center is focused in the Stapleton area, but went where needed, especially during COVID-19.

“I organized our team and reached out to NYCHA homes where we are needed. We made sure we performed mobile testing [for the coronavirus] at the Life Center at least twice. I contacted Northwell, which is Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH), to make sure we have flu shots in the Stapleton community because as you know there is no great pharmacy in this region, ”she said.

A flu shot clinic has already taken place at the Central Family Life Center, and Donegan plans to host a second one at a health and wellness event with community partners.

“That’s what I kind of do, we reach out, we coordinate with different partners, so the community can have different resources in one place,” Donegan said.

After the Central Family Life Center received a grant to be part of the city’s Test and Trace Corps to provide education and outreach in the community, Donegan was appointed director of the program. She is responsible for leading town halls, participating in awareness raising efforts and hanging posters in the community.

“I am passionate about our health in the community so it is a blessing,” she said. “It’s not like it’s easy work, but it’s a blessing. And it was a blessing to hire people in the community to do the job… and to serve the community.

Antoinette Donegan

Donegan is seen here with the Reverend Dr Demetrius Carolina, pastor of First Central Baptist Church, Stapleton. Donegan is associate minister at the church. (Staten Island Advance / Jan Somma-Hammel)


She also coordinates and promotes workshops against gun violence and pro-social events, where community workers and agencies come together to communicate and provide services to targeted neighborhoods.

Donegan acts as a liaison between the community and the NYPD, calling the department’s community affairs team when members of the True 2 Life program are planning or attending an event.

True 2 Life – part of the city’s Crisis Management System (CMS) and Cure Violence movement and a program of the Central Family Life Center – works year round to resolve potentially violent conflicts, while educating young people about their economic environment, the history of their community and the potential to break the cycle of crime and poverty.

In October, Donegan participated in a True 2 Life peace event, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) like face masks and hand sanitizer, as well as a farmer’s market style table with fruits and vegetables. .

“I put on gloves and served the community because that’s the way the fruit market works,” she said. “And to prevent the spread, I just ask them what they want and give it to them so I can make sure everyone stays safe. I find Stapleton and New Brighton to be in a desert of healthy food. There is no place to buy these healthy fruits and vegetables at a reasonable cost, if at all. So they were very grateful. Not only are they getting PPE, not only are they getting information about COVID, but they are getting fruit and veg for the time that we have these events. “

Antoinette Donegan

Donegan is working to ensure residents have the necessary personal protective equipment and more to protect them and others from the coronavirus. (Staten Island Advance / Jan Somma-Hammel)


Donegan said one of the biggest challenges during the pandemic has been getting the community to understand that it’s not business as usual. The center and the church have been dedicated to distributing PPE as no one wears a mask, she said.

“It’s disheartening for our community of color, and it’s black and brown that have hit the hardest. And that’s why we received the grant [for Test and Trace], to serve those who have financial difficulties and health problems… ”, explained Donegan. “They are tired of the pandemic. They are tired of the violence. They are tired of their way of life. They are tired of being poor. They are tired of it all. This pandemic is just one more thing. that beats them over the head.

This is why initiatives within the center are so important, because it brings joy to the neighborhood, Donegan said.

“That’s why I said I didn’t mind coming home tired, because there is so much that these communities have to fight,” she said.

Antoinette Donegan

Donegan, right, worked with Dr. Carolina to develop a plan to deliver meals to seniors in need on the North Shore. (Staten Island Advance / Jan Somma-Hammel)


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