Only 2.3% of private sector healthcare providers in NY are equipped to understand and meet veterans’ unique needs. As a result, many go undiagnosed and untreated with unidentified issues and effects of trauma that can negatively impact their quality of life. At Northwell Health, we are dedicated to changing that narrative.
We are committed to serving and supporting active-duty personnel, veterans, and their families as a proud military-friendly employer. We provide medical care and behavioral health treatment for those struggling with PTSD, while also recruiting and assisting newly returned veterans trying to find jobs and acclimate back into civilian life. We hire hundreds of veterans each year, and over the past decade have awarded almost $2 million to employees who were mobilized and deployed overseas.
Side by Side: A Celebration of Service, hosted annually during Memorial Day Weekend, is a celebration honoring our nation's heroes and highlighting Northwell’s commitment to serving those who serve us. Our 2022 event was a return to an in-person event after two years of going virtual, so we knew we had to create an unforgettable experience. What better way to celebrate this than a takeover of the streets of NYC? The two-day event began with a block party in NYC's Flatiron Plaza with a special DJ appearance by Questlove. It concluded with a benefit concert at UBS Arena—with tailgating festivities, interactive military exhibits, and performances by singer-songwriter Jason Derulo and Grammy Award-winning and multiplatinum singer-songwriter John Legend.
The Side by Side celebration was more than just a way to honor service members—it was a chance to foster a real sense of community and show appreciation. The event was deliberately designed to be inclusive, extending an open invitation to not only military personnel participating in Fleet Week, but also to Northwell Health employees and members of the general public. This strategic approach showcased appreciation for all service members and promoted the Northwell Health brand through a series of immersive experiences. By leveraging the power of music, community, and charitable donations, the Side by Side celebration served as a powerful way for Northwell Health to express gratitude to our brave and selfless community of service members.
Using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, we documented and live-posted from the heart of the festivities to encourage attendees to engage with and share their experiences with branded in-person activations—like cornhole, a giant Connect 4, a Spin-to-Win prize wheel and an army print inflatable obstacle course. But what made the event even more remarkable were the unique activations in honor of giving thanks.
With almost 600 postcards written, the postcard station at the Block Party welcomed attendees to write special messages thanking a Veteran, Active Service Member, or Healthcare Hero. Additionally, the Celebration of Service Thank You Wall provided a place for attendees to write live messages for the world to see. There was even a Video Booth set up so that attendees could create filmed messages to send to troops across the nation and overseas.
Throughout the day, the Block Party featured amazing performances from the Navy Band Northeast Brass Band to the Northwell Health Nurse Choir and Questlove… to name a few. Oh and Alfonso Ribiero (yes him!) MC’d the entire event and filled all the in-between moments with laughs.
The following evening consisted of a very special concert featuring Jason Derulo and John Legend. Military members and frontline healthcare workers could join with family and friends and attend a star-studded event dedicated to their service.
For those that were unable to attend the event, we brought the Side by Side experience into their homes via social media, enabling them to celebrate our service members alongside us. We went into the event with an outline for live content and had team members scheduled to be at certain locations to catch the action in real time. However, a lot of our success came from being in the moment, capturing things we may not have planned for, and skipping things that we thought wouldn’t add value to our snapshot of the day. We found that less was more, and the raw, unplanned content ended up being the most authentic and engaging. Despite last-minute scheduling changes, unpredictable weather, and sometimes spotty wifi, we were still able to bring this two-day event to life on social in a truly exciting way for all!
Ultimately, the 2-day program did what it set out to do (and more): create a real sense of community and appreciation for our military members, frontline healthcare workers, and the public. One Northwell Health attendee commented “I would love to share my gratitude for all who had organized this terrific event. Not only is it such a beautiful event for our troops and for remembering the real reason why we all celebrate on Memorial Day, but it also provides a respite opportunity for those that are serving to be engulfed in care. I’m so honored to be part of such an organization that is always giving back, and always thinking about its employees, and those that are affected by healthcare.”
And the stats speak for themselves. There were almost 100 videos and 600 postcards sent to troops, 1,200 prizes won at the spin the wheel, just under 12,000 tickets utilized for the benefit concert, and 58K engagements and 6M impressions across social media around the Side by Side Celebration.
The Side by Side celebration kicked off in 2019 and has since become an annual event that Northwell Health will continue to grow on for years to come. In the coming years, the goal is for Side by Side to no longer be a single event but grow into a multi-date, multi-event platform, furthering conversations and generating support for Northwell Health and its commitment to service throughout the year.