The NYS Department of Health recently honored staff member Mary Dykeman with the Commissioner’s Special Recognition award for her work educating youth on sexual health. Dykeman received the award at the Commissioner’s awards ceremony in Albany as part of the 2017 World AIDS Day special events.
Dykeman, also known as “The Sex Lady,” has been educating young people for 29 years through her work as a Health Educator at the Cortland County Health Department and more recently as a Prevention Specialist with our Cortland Prevention Resources team.
“When we heard that Mary was retiring from the Health Department, we recruited her to join our Prevention team and continue her important work,” said Prevention Director Leslie Wilkins. As a Prevention Specialist, Dykeman also works closely with the Cortland LGBTQ Center and brings her expertise to the programs they offer.
CEO Lisa Hoeschele has worked with Dykeman for two decades and was thrilled that we were able to convince her to come to work at the agency. “Mary is the most compassionate, kind, caring and empathetic person I have ever known,” said Hoeschele. “Her leadership in assisting families as they have difficult but important conversations with their children, her creative approach to helping young people as they navigate the challenges of growing up in the digital age and her passion for bringing families together to communicate more effectively is truly inspirational”
One of her original creations, “Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll” is a trivia night sponsored by a local pub in which scores of teams sign up to compete and answer questions about sex, drugs and rock & roll. Dykeman is known for her ability to engage the crowd as she stands on a chair calling out the questions.
Through these many years, Dykeman has helped develop other programs such “Teen Tuesday” a clinic for teens, Zero Adolescent Pregnancy (ZAP), Lunch and Learn, and Snap Chat. Each year she facilitates a special retreat for mothers and daughters to improve their communication skills.
“I am so honored to be chosen for this award,” said Dykeman. “No one does this work alone and I am grateful to the colleagues I have worked with throughout my career. I have had the pleasure of working with amazing young people and school districts who support teen health programs.”
Cortland Prevention Resources and the Cortland LGBTQ Center are divisions of Family Counseling Services. To learn more about the available services please visit http://www.cortlandprevention.org/