Without the human expenditures of time, money, concern and love, none of it would be possible. At Good Circle (goodcircle.org), our goal is make “giving” easier by connecting businesses with individuals and not-for-profits. We’re continuing our partnership with Beachouse to introduce you to some of the remarkable individuals in our community whose work literally changes lives every day. We think you’ll want to know them!
In this issue Beachouse and Good Circle salute Geoff Lynch, President of Hampton Jitney, and Bob Chaloner, CEO of Southampton Hospital. Both men are deeply connected to the East End and have shown a remarkable ability to ameliorate the well being of individuals in need. They both have boundless amounts of energy, and their commitment to what they do is inspires us to keep-on with the important work! We especially thank Sally Dawson of Southampton for conducting the interview with Geoff Lynch.
We welcome suggestions for future Good People columns.
Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BH: The Hampton Jitney is a family business. How did that come to be?
Geoff: Hampton Jitney was founded in 1974 by Jim Davidson, a distant relative. In the mid 1980’s, my dad bought the company. Myself and my siblings – Andrew, Pete and Stephanie – were in high school at the time and spent summers working for him. I’ve been involved since. My two brothers are still involved, Andrew is Vice President and Pete is a technician and part of the maintenance department.
BH: How did you end up running the business?
Geoff: After college I worked for a money management firm. When I was twenty-five, Dad asked me to work for him full time as Operations Manager. I had no idea it would become a lifelong endeavor. My father was injured in an accident and became severely handicapped, relying more upon us to run the business, and we made it work. So, it was partly tragedy that brought us all into the business, but it’s worked out for the best.
BH: Where were you born and raised?
Geoff: I was born in New York City and grew up in Connecticut. Our family has spent all 46 years of my life out here on the East End but we didn’t become full time residents until 1988 when Dad bought the company. We spent summers in Quogue and still do.
BH: What does the East End mean to you?
Geoff: I consider myself to be from this place. My parents came here before me, and their parents before them so this is where I have roots.
BH: Hampton Jitney is very involved in the local community. What motivates you to do good?
Geoff: Hampton Jitney has grown and prospered on the East End. We’ve benefited from the growth of this area and believe it’s important to give back to this community that has supported us.
BH: What does community mean to you?
Geoff: It’s certainly family and friends. It’s also being involved with things affecting all of us, in my case, dealing with traffic or transportation situations. If you’re living and working in a single place you should also be prepared to serve in some capacity for that community.
BH: How do you choose which organizations to support?
Geoff: We focus on projects for local people, run by local people – that’s the main criteria. Once we find a project we like, we do try to continue supporting it.
BH: You’ve partnered with good circle on two local projects – one for cancer support agency Fighting Chance, to provide round-trip transportation to Manhattan for cancer patients and caregivers and another for i-tri, providing transport for at-risk school girls training to take part in their first triathlon. How did that come about and how would you describe the impact?
Geoff: When good circle came to us with the Fighting Chance project, it allowed us to resurrect a similar travel program we’d done in the past. Everyone knows someone affected by cancer so it resonated. The project was very positively received amongst our ridership who played a big part in matching donations. The i-tri fundraiser is still on-going. The program fills a need for that age group and they had a transportation component we could help with. We like having actual involvement with the program.
BH: What would you say is the East End’s best kept secret?
Geoff: Diving in Shinnecock Bay at Ponquogue Bridge is a very unique experience. It’s one of the most interesting dives a scuba diver can have. There’s a lot of local marine life – rays, striped bass and different types of crab and you get to see it all first hand.
BH: Since this is a 365-day a year business, what do you love to do when you have spare time?
Geoff: I spend as much time in the ocean as possible – swimming, surfing and waterskiing. My wife and I love eating at Vine Street in Shelter Island and Tutto Il Giorno in Sag Harbor.
BH: Tell us about the Shake Shack drink the ‘Jitney Concrete’.
Geoff: Shake Shack is the landmark for our 40th Street stop location – we are neighbors so anything we can do to work together is great. We’re thrilled to have it on the menu. I’ve not personally tried it but hear it’s good. Anything that promotes our brand in a positive way is okay by me.
Since arriving from Manhattan in December of 2006, Bob Chaloner has led the impressive turnaround of The Southampton Hospital. From a small regional hospital to the impending merger with Stony Brook Medicine, Southampton Hospital is now part of a vital teaching hospital group. As you’ll see, Bob is not the usual hospital administrator. With a background in technology, finance, and public health and urban planning, and a deep passion for people and nature, he’s a bit of a polymath. Bob lives in East Hampton with his partner Oscar Mandes, and has a son and daughter, and recently welcomed a grandson.
BH: What were your priorities for the hospital when you first got there? How did you prioritize your tasks?
Bob: When I arrived, the community and hospital were hemorrhaging doctors, mostly because of retirements. The hospital financials were not good, losing $5-6 mm per year. For the first six months I spent my time watching and learning and came away with a strong impression that it was a pretty good community hospital…. yet there was a huge disparity between what was going on inside the hospital and what people were saying about it on the outside. At parties that first summer, it was painful to hear so much criticism. I knew I had to focus on the hospital’s reputation from the inside out, so I started there. I became an aggressive cheerleader and did what I could to halt all of the misinformation. At the same time, we focused on three basics:
1. Retaining and recruiting good doctors to increase accessibility to healthcare
2. Adding more nurses to increase the patient/nurse ratio
3. Improving the appearance of the hospital.
BH: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
Bob: We had three primary tasks: First, to rebuild a growing and vital medical staff, which includes many specialties [Meeting House Lane Medical Practice] and to make certain they are happy and stabilized. Second, to grow and maintain a well trained nursing staff. Today, thanks to the hospital’s much improved reputation, we get hundreds of applications each year allowing us to be selective. Third, to score in the top ten among in-state hospitals for cleanliness and overall appearance of the facility.
We’ve had tremendous, measurable success in all three areas, and our reality is much different today.
BH: What is your vision for the hospital?
Bob: Most importantly, to ensure long-term stability so that our community has access to great healthcare! Stabilization is the impetus behind our affiliation and collaboration with Stony Brook. With all of the good work we are doing, we’re still too small. In this healthcare environment, we had to join with someone bigger. Stony Brook was the right partner – not just for us, but also for our county.
Next, we’re not just a hospital. We’re building a healthcare delivery system for the entire South Fork that includes all of the services that the people here need. Our goal is to have those services be of the highest quality and to make them very accessible. Given our geography, that means they need to be scattered strategically throughout the region, from Montauk to Westhampton. We must provide good healthcare so people stay healthy without traveling long distances. The hospital will always be important, but it’s the hub of a complex delivery system.
BH: Where were you born and raised and what influenced your career choice?
Bob: There was a lot of medicine in my background. Dad was a doctor and my mother was a nurse, so healthcare was always in the cards. I’m from a small town in upstate NY and Dad was the only doctor for a large geography. I think my family had a dream that I would take over, but when I got to Dartmouth I realized I didn’t like science… junior year I worked as an EKG technician and discovered I loved being in and around the hospital.
My family was very encouraging. I went to grad school at Columbia for Public Health and Urban Planning and got an MBA from NYU. I had great mentors. Initially I went to work at Lenox Hill Hospital and later with an information technology consulting firm that had spun off from Booz Allen and travelled all over the country to small hospitals doing IT. Eventually one of my clients hired me, and from there my career in hospital administration was established.
BH: What was it like to find yourself in the hub of the community?
Bob: It was a big eye opener. Everywhere I went the hospital was talked about. Maybe it’s because we’re so isolated and we employ over 1100 people. It has consumed my life. But I love being in a small community. It’s very gratifying to see the work you’re doing is making a difference in the community you live in. It’s like returning to my small town roots. I’m always out there listening. I get good information that way. A lot of the things we’re doing – our Wellness Program, our Breast Center – these are all ideas that came directly from good people of our community.
BH: What do you do to unwind?
Bob: I love the outdoors. We live in the woods in a quiet part of East Hampton. We bought a boat – something I never thought I would do – and keep it at Three Mile Harbor. Oscar and I go all over in that boat. I love it! We’ll go anchor in a cove somewhere and have dinner. The advantage of being out here is, it’s so beautiful, there’s so much to do.
I also am building a nice network of people, work and non-work related – bright and interesting people. We go to small dinners, which seem to be such a part of life out here, and meet really great people.
BH: Any favorites?
Bob: The scenic beauty. The people are so amazing. I can’t get enough of the different people. I love the restaurants out here – some of my favorites are Fresno and Sam’s in East Hampton and Red Bar in Southampton. And the fragrance in the Hamptons air! I’ve never smelled it anywhere else, and I can’t get enough of it