Rest In Peace and Power Don McVinney

  • Donald McVinney (photo via MySpace)

Yesterday, we received the news that we lost a very special member of the Harlem United family. Don McVinney wasn’t only a long-time staff member, he was a beloved supporter, advocate, and friend to staff and clients alike.

We are all deeply shocked and saddened by his untimely death. It will take significant time for the reality of his passing to sink in for many of us.

I first met Don when I joined Harlem United in 2010. He and I taught HIPAA and confidentiality trainings together, and I quickly grew to respect and admire him. I watched the way he interacted with staff and clients, and the passion he had for his work was palpable.

The impact of Don’s work in the Harm Reduction and social work communities is so far-reaching. Tributes are pouring in from the many organizations and individuals who were forever changed by his unique skill and love for imparting knowledge to others, including a wonderfully moving statement from the Harm Reduction Coalition.

Compassionate, caring, wise, witty, creative: these are just some of the words I would use to describe Don. He was one of a kind, and we are all better for having known him.

Rest in peace and power, Don. You and your legacy will never be forgotten.

In solidarity,

Jacqui Kilmer
CEO, Harlem United

16 Replies to "Rest In Peace and Power Don McVinney"

  • Julie Nsanzurwimo
    December 22, 2016 (5:34 pm)

    OMG, I am still in shock! Not much to say, really not much to say, except that we have lost a good and caring person. May you RIP, Don!

    • carol
      December 23, 2016 (9:53 am)

      There are No words.. the loss is deep, a wonderful caring person… I had the opportunity to share many days and nights with Don.

      I love him and will miss him..but I have the memories of joy in my heart.. Rest my dear friend.. CM

  • Irina Rimel
    December 22, 2016 (5:48 pm)

    Very sad. It was a pleasure and a priviledge working with him. Rest in peace, Don

  • Jonathan Margolies
    December 23, 2016 (11:25 am)

    Having had the privilege and honor to work alongside Don, to learn from Don and partner with him, the magnitude and weight of this loss leaves me and all who knew him with a heavy heart. To have had the opportunity to work with a pioneer and icon in our field, I am truly humbled. We will continue to work and honor Don’s memory and legacy through the lessons he taught and the wonderful services provided by Harlem United. His spirit will live on in all of us. To know Don was to love him.

  • Dr. Maryann McCoul
    December 24, 2016 (4:38 pm)

    No words….my heart is heavy and I know many people are in a better place because of Dons caring and passion for helping others. I believe he too is in a better place, no pain, no hurt…just pure joy and peace.I will always hold his smile and him in my heart.

  • Nicole Gilbert
    December 25, 2016 (11:33 pm)

    Sleep in peace my dear Professor. Job well done sir.
    CUSSW ’99

  • James
    December 26, 2016 (8:32 am)

    Oh no, how did he die?

  • Thomas Wolfe, LCSW
    December 26, 2016 (1:26 pm)

    I knew Don McVinney as a caring and gifted teacher at Columbia School of Social Work, and in my coursework I maxed-out my electives by selecting all five of his courses. Looking at his written comments on some of my work at that time, they clearly recall the intent concentration and sensitive insight that he showed in class, as I imagine he also demonstrated at work in his role as clinician. In my graduation year (1999), with stiff competition from twenty competing Columbia departments, he was awarded Professor of the Year by the Columbia Faculty. Behind this were many testaments written by very time-pressed final year students who were motivated to press his case. The quality of his engagement as a teacher, his effectiveness in the classroom, and his role model of approaching his work with care and commitment were important examples that I tried my best to follow in my subsequent social work career, and made my efforts better because of him. He is missed, but remembered with gratitude.

  • Gwen Palmer
    January 9, 2017 (8:29 am)

    Don always had a bright smile on his face that could light up the whole room. He will be truly missed. He was an excellent teacher and listener. I had the opportunity to speak to him one on one in which he gave me some good advice. Rest in peace Don!

  • Krupa Hart
    January 9, 2017 (9:28 am)

    I had the privilege of working with Don my entire time at Harlem United. It was an honor working with someone who centered around the community first. Don was for clients and always identified with where the client was at the present time. Don was a gem, who will be truly missed. He always told me Krupa the community needs you. To a dear colleague you will be truly missed. For now you are Gods ANGEL!

  • Olga Keber
    January 9, 2017 (10:48 am)

    I was honored to know Don McVinney as an amazing trainer and friend. He was there when ever you needed him. I remember working at El Faro and we were short handed on Case Managers on conducting groups and he volunteered to do groups once a week to help. The community truly loved his style of doing groups and the members did not want him to leave. He was an inspiration and a wonderful person to talk to about anything, he always made time to listen to what ever you had to say and left you with great advice to look at things in a better light. Don will be missed for his compassion to teach and to guide others on doing well. RIP Don….

  • Susan Collins
    January 9, 2017 (10:55 am)

    Unfortunately, I just learned. I am truly saddened by the news of Don’s death. It is not important how he left as it is important what he left. Don left a legacy of compassion, commitment and hope. He was a representative of social work at its best. I loved attending any group session Don faciliated. Not only were you privy to what he knew and his experiences he shared interacting with the population we work with, but he inspired you to want to do more to serve. Thank you Don for helping me to enhance my capabilities through your teachings and living example.

  • Orlando Perez
    January 9, 2017 (11:31 am)

    Heart Broken! Words cannot describe how valuable Don was as a friend, colleague and mentor. You will dearly be missed… “Good byes are not forever and are not the end but rather, it simply means that that I’ll miss you… Until we meet again Don”

  • Peter Morales
    January 9, 2017 (2:51 pm)

    This so heartfelt! You will be missed. Rest In Peace, Don!

  • Dolores Manigault
    January 10, 2017 (8:57 am)

    I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be in Don’s presence he brought so much knowledge wit and experience in whatever he did. I will miss the long talks we used to have , I could tell him anything without judgement. Great man you will be truly missed. job well done! RIP Don and thank you.

  • Kate Larkin
    January 17, 2017 (1:34 pm)

    I am so sorry to learn of this tragic loss. My heart goes out to Don’s friends and family, and everyone at Harlem United and in the community he served,

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