Basket Bingo founder honored with Dickey Award

Diane L. Stine started Basket Bingo in 2008, with volunteers, raising a few hundred dollars for the Lycoming County United Way.

Over the next 10 years, the annual event at the Pennsdale Civic Center brought in receipts topping $100,000 for the organization’s mission and grant-making efforts to program partners in the community.

The long-time donor, campaign volunteer, and a past board member, was honored Thursday night with the Douglas C. Dickey Humanitarian Award, Lycoming County United organization’s highest award.

“Oh Lord,” Stine said, “I didn’t think I’d be this nervous,” she said, at the event at the Holiday Inn.

Stine thanked her family, pointing out her five of 10 grandchildren in the room but did not neglect her mother, daughter, son, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, husband, aunt, cousin and friend, Jan.

The award is presented annually to individuals whose dedication, commitment and outstanding leadership have made a major contribution to the welfare of Lycoming County. Presented since 1947, the award was renamed in 1997 to honor the memory of the late organization’s president, Douglas C. Dickey, who was among those lost in the crash of TWA Flight 800.

Stine received a standing ovation at the Holiday Inn, 100 Pine St. Besides her husband, Tim, Stine spoke about her coordination of the event with her mother, Evelyn Free. She recalled her mother wrapping baskets, putting on tape and shopping for Longaberger Baskets and designer bags in preparation for the bingo event.

The mother and daughter team search for a year before the annual fundraiser, purchasing the baskets and collecting items to fill them, investing numerous hours and thousands of their own funds to assure that all the proceeds were available to the United Way.

John Piper Jr., local historian and former dean of Lycoming College, remarked on how Stine and other award winners at the dinner were continuing the tradition of the early years of the United Way, or as it was called in the 1920s, Community Chest.

United Way founders provided resources and leaders of the community called for the chest to be opened.

Fast forward to seven or eight years ago, and Piper described Stine and Free as women whose organization skills could have been used in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.

“They created a way and are encouraging others to support the needs of others … to serve the people of Lycoming County,” Piper said.

“As a past award recipient, I am honored to welcome my friend Diane to a group of people who have dedicated their lives to service in our community and to our organization,” reflected Ron Frick, president of the Lycoming County United Way. “Diane has been a supporter for decades and has served our resource development, community impact efforts and our board for that entire time. Diane and her family have always been in our corner and we are grateful for her leadership in so many ways.”

Stine began her service with the organization as a campaign volunteer in the Pacesetter Division, helping leadership get workplace campaigns started early, months before the formal campaign began.

Recognizing her leadership, then campaign chair Frick, asked her to chair the retail section of the employee division of the campaign.

“Diane was always willing to help without really taking any credit. She understood the value of helping others and just pitched in,” Frick said.

Recognizing her commitment, she was asked to lead the employee division for a year and joined the Funds Distribution Committee around that same time; a group she served until 2017 as a co-chair of one of the panels charged with making grant recommendations.

“Diane’s commitment to helping others in our community was

evident during her years of service on the Funds Distribution Steering Committee. Her passion and insight proved very valuable in our efforts to effectively and responsibly allocate the funds which had been raised each year,” said Don Shade, chair of the organization’s Community Impact Committee and member of the board of directors.

In 2005, Stine was appointed to the organization’s board of directors, where she served two terms, and 10 years later was recognized as an outstanding campaign volunteer with the Douglas C. Shangraw Memorial Volunteer Award.

While serving on the board, Stine recognized that workplace campaigns were facing challenges and the United Way was dependent on them for almost 60 percent of its revenue.

“While we continue to depend on workplace campaigns for a majority of our revenue,” Frick said “special events like basket bingo helped to bolster that revenue and provide for programs which need our support.”

The event ended after 10 years after the organization could not use the venue any longer and Stine and her mother decided to move on to other commitments including additional job responsibilities and family.

“Diane and her mom are special people who recognized that this event was something the community would love and appealed to a different group of donors, many who were retired or not affiliated with a workplace campaign,” Frick said.

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