A Career Was Born

Joan Dugan Wilson did not plan on attending college. Probably marriage. Definitely work. As the saying goes, though … the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry. After a short stint working at Corning Community College, a counselor convinced her to enroll.

“I graduated with honors,” said Joan. “That degree changed my life.”

It opened the door to a bachelor’s degree, which was a pre-requisite for the career she entered as a 20-something and breaking the glass ceiling more than once during her more than 25-year career. In 1971, she was hired by Continental Insurance Company and was the first female to enter the career training program. With this training, she became an underwriter and followed jobs and promotions around the country: Joan and her husband Jim worked in Jacksonville, Florida, Dallas, and Denver, where she was the first female to run a profit center in 1981. In 1994, she and her husband moved to New Jersey where she managed the company’s largest branch office. Her last position was President and COO of a Continental subsidiary (Marine Office of America Corporation), where she presided over the insuring of container ships, off-shore drilling rigs, and other vessels.

“It all started with my degree from CCC,” said Joan, who graduated in 1969. “I had a wonderful career and met my husband (Jim Wilson ’69) in English class. CCC was good for me.”

Today, along with her family and friends, she is using many of the leadership and business skills gained at CCC and her career to help write a new chapter in their lives… as founders of Bampa’s House, a comfort care home in Corning. The work is a labor of love, in memory of Joan’s brother, Jim Dugan, who was known to his grandchildren as “Bampa.” Jim was a life-long resident of the Corning-Painted Post area; earned two CCC degrees (1967 and 1981) and ran with CCC’s cross country team; spent his career at Corning Community College; and volunteered for many years through the Lions Club.

At the end of his life, Jim needed a special kind of care that wasn’t available in this area, according to Joan. Bampa’s House is a residential home that will provide 24/7 care by trained care-takers for those individuals at the end of their lives. These volunteers, along with the services of CareFirst (the hospice provider for Steuben, Chemung, and Schuyler counties) will enable individuals to spend their last days in a home-setting and a peaceful environment, surrounded by family and friends.

The house isn’t open yet: The Dugans and their Board of Directors are currently applying for grants and organizing fund-raisers. In September, they will sponsor a 5K run/walk at Craig Park in Painted Post, New York, to raise money for Bampa's House and celebrate Jim's life. There are three other fund raisers also planned. To learn more, visit http://bampashouse.org/.