This year, I was honored and privileged to help judge the inaugural Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards, and I couldn't be happier to announce the winners here today. You'll recall that nominations and then votes were being accepted for wonderful Brooklynites making their community better in five categories—Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, and Green Communities—which reflect the Foundation's ongoing areas of interest.
After much deliberation, six winners were selected, and they are...drum roll please...
ARTS FOR ALL
Chinita Pointer, Executive Director of the Noel Pointer Foundation
Chinita Pointer, wife of the late, award-winning violinist that her foundation is named for, runs a program that focuses on creating a string orchestra for children in Brooklyn and connecting them to higher education. Her work as the Executive Director of the Noel Pointer Foundation helps give youth in Central Brooklyn an opportunity to excel in the arts and beyond. The program provides young people a place to hone their craft and be surrounded by positive role models. “If we can change their lives, it’s a snowball effect,” she says.
Melony Samuels, Founder and Executive Director of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Once a top-selling life-insurance agent, Melony Samuels now helps change and save lives. As Founder and Executive Director of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, which was started as a food bank with pre-packed bags, Samuels now helps provide 10,000 meals to families living in poverty. In a market-style space, the Campaign also provides on-site services and classes. In 2008, with the help of volunteers and community members, Samuels helped convert a vacant lot into Victory Garden Farm, Bed Stuy’s first community focused urban garden which yielded more than 1200 pounds of produce in its first season.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (two winners)
A native Brooklynite, former school teacher, and single father of five, Chip Cafiero is Bay Ridge’s go-to person for all community events. Born Emil Oliver, Cafiero helped create the Shore Road Parks conservancy and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT1NYC) after the 9/11 attacks, and he continues to volunteer his time helping preserve parks, coordinate parades, and educate local youth through concerts in the parks, Halloween walks, and other community events.
Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder of the Arab American Association of New York
Linda Sarsour says she is “never leaving Brooklyn.” As co-founder of the Arab American Association of New York, this young mother of three uses her leadership skills, fluency in English and Arabic, and cultural understanding to organize voter registration drives, workshops, and to engage an under-represented community. In 2008, she coordinated the largest Get Out the Vote effort in the history of the Arab-American community in Brooklyn.
EDUCATION AND YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT
Sharon Content, Founder, Children of Promise NYC
Sharon Content went from being an accountant to founding Children of Promise NYC, an after-school program and summer day camp specifically designed to meet the mental health and social needs of children of imprisoned parents. She decided to take action after learning about the multiple challenges and needs of children in these circumstances through her work and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club and the Osborne Foundation and hasn’t stopped.
Murad Awawdeh, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE)
Murad Awawdeh is an American-born Palestinian who wants his home—Brooklyn—to be greener. When he was 10, Awawdeh walked around Sunset Park, knew he wanted a park and more trees, and set out to make it happen. He became the a founding member of the Environmental Enforcers, a cadre of young people who look out for the community’s environmental rights, and a principal organizer in a campaign to defeat a 520 megawatt power plant in the neighborhood. As an environmental justice advocate and volunteer for over thirteen years within his community and for the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), he is helping green this neighborhood and make Brooklyn healthier.
Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, said, "We are thrilled with the outpouring of enthusiasm and participation in the Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards campaign and have been inspired by the work and spirit of generosity shown by all 250 nominees. After the fierce yet friendly competition, judges selected the six individuals for their commitment to Brooklyn, their great work and their ability to inspire and lead others,”
Now come celebrate the winners on November 3 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden! Get your tickets here.