NEW YORK:____ Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams held a special “COVID-19 Heroes” ceremony at Brooklyn Borough Hall paying tribute to people who have made a difference in their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, as part of his regular “Heroes of the Month” event series. Those who received recognitions represented the diversity of Brooklyn, and the diverse range of largely unsung heroism on display in recent months as the borough and city battled the virus.

“When some were looking to divide us, these heroes demonstrated through their selfless actions that we are more powerful when we are united. These past six months have been among the most challenging in our city’s history, but instead of losing hope, these heroes spread light in a dark time and showed our country what true grit and resilience looks like. It was my pleasure to recognize these heroes for their contributions, and I thank them for their tireless efforts to help their fellow New Yorkers during the pandemic,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

More than 80 honorees attended Tuesday’s event and received citations on behalf of the borough of Brooklyn from Borough President Adams. The full list of honorees and affiliated organizations is below.

  • Chilis on Wheels, started in 2014 by Michelle Carrera when she could not find a soup kitchen that served vegan Thanksgiving meals, distributed healthy plant-based groceries to people and families who were in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Community partners Danishia Davis, Dashawn Davis, and Bianca Tucker of event space Zip Code Lounge organized fundraisers for the community and then gave back by distributing hundreds of backpacks, care packages, groceries, hot meals, and personal protective equipment (PPE) to their neighbors in need.
  • Columbia University’s Dara Kass is an emergency room doctor who contracted COVID-19. She was a key resource to Brooklyn Borough Hall in the early days of COVID-19 to advocate for telemedicine and mobile testing sites and continued to provide a great deal of guidance throughout the pandemic.
  • The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, led by His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros (Lambriniadis) of America and Stratos Safioleas, created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to assist individuals experiencing financial hardship because of the pandemic and subsequent recession.
  • Tiffiney Davis shifted Red Hook Art Project, Inc. (RHAP) programs to virtual learning, getting all students the necessary art supplies delivered to their homes, while partnering with local non-profits, leaders, restaurants, and churches to help understand their needs and concerns during COVID-19. She also solicited donations and coordinated distribution of meals, diapers, and other supplies.
  • The Brooklyn chapter of Black Lives Matter coordinated and partnered with various local organizations to help feed hungry and impacted members of the community during a series of food and PPE/face mask distributions.
  • The Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS) organized the distribution efforts of more than 125,000 hot meals, masks and hand sanitizers, antibody testing kits, book bags, ice creams, toys, clothing, and so much more, also launching “Hunger Truck,” which will travel throughout New York City providing free food. PAYS President Asra Rashid, herself a Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, helped to organize the distribution of free hot meals for the community, as well as coordinated free COVID-19 diagnostic and antibody testing inside PAYS headquarters.
  • Winnie Greco harnessed her liaising skills in soliciting donations of massive amounts of lifesaving PPE, then took to the streets, hospitals, and health care facilities to distribute PPE to anyone and everyone in need; to date, she has secured more than 176,000 masks, 24,000 gloves, 943 sets of protective clothing, and at least 9,665 combined face shields, hand sanitizers, meals, and temperature machines.
  • During one of our nation’s darkest hours, Lily Wong, who was working from home for the human resources department of the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, along with her family, selflessly produced hundreds of thousands of potentially life-saving mask packets, which were then distributed throughout Brooklyn.
  • Joseph Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, as well as owner of the Brooklyn Nets, Long Island Nets, and New York Liberty, along with his wife Clara Wu Tsai donated 2.6 million masks, 170,000 goggles, and 2,000 ventilators to New York’s residents, health care workers, and first responders during the worst days of the pandemic.
  • Dandriga, Belize native Jane Sentino-Austin, a Garifuna nurse administrator at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, worked tirelessly with her staff, including doctors, to meet the needs of every single patient and their family, oftentimes making tough decisions as, at the peak of COVID-19, she felt deeply responsible for every life that came into her care.
  • Professional photographer Chana Blumes launched the grassroots initiative, #PickThemUp, and sent community donation-funded care package deliveries to the doctors, nurses, health care workers, and staff at NYU Langone Health in Manhattan, where her father-in-law had been treated for COVID-19.
  • The New York City ISKCON Temple, a nonsectarian community dedicated to spiritual education and promoting unity and peace in the world, led a vegetarian food distribution, organized by Temple President Hansrupa Das and the Temple Public Relations Coordinator Jagannath Rao, in accordance with the tenets of their spiritual practices, based on the Vedic scriptures of India.
  • Dr. Vipul Patel from the BAPS Charities Hindu Temple delivered hot meals to first responders, and also worked to donate handmade cotton face masks as well as N95 masks and surgical supplies to local hospitals in need.
  • Businessman and restaurateur Nitin Vyas of World Vegan Vision, a 26-year-old resource network and think-tank for vegans worldwide, with the objective of a healthy future for all of mankind and planet Earth, harnessed the power of his connections to coordinate community-wide distributions of free vegan food and face coverings to those in need.
  • Susmita Jasty, MD, of both the Art of Living Foundation (AOL), a non-profit, educational, and humanitarian organization that teaches stress management and self-developmental workshops and conducts service activities globally, as well as an NYU Langone Health gastroenterology specialist, helped to distribute PPE including coveralls, tubs of sanitizing wipes, face shields, and gloves.
  • American Pakistani Advocacy Group (APAG)’s President Ali Rashid coordinated the purchase, packaging, disinfecting, and delivering of 2,500 grocery packages for approximately 16,000 senior citizens, disabled individuals, and those facing financial hardships due to the pandemic, as well as face masks and 2,500 free meals for essential workers.
  • After the Federation of Indian Associations of NY, NJ, CT (FIA Tristate)’s longtime chair Ramesh Patel passed away from complications due to COVID-19, FIA Tristate appointed Ankur Vaidya as its new chair. He did not waste any time in overseeing the distribution of more than 3,000 meals, including to first responders and members of the New York City Police Department (NYPD), as well as the distribution of 1,000 face shields made by children of a member organization.
  • In an effort to reach as many Arabic-speaking members of the community with important COVID-19-related health information, Yasmeen Atef, founder of the Yemeni Women’s Association (YWA), led the all-volunteer members of her non-profit organization to help translate pertinent information from English to Arabic, then distributed the information and PPE supplies on a mass community level.
  • Standing at the Flatbush Junction subway station to reach the greatest number of people, Chloe Natacha International Ministries and ANS Association committed to providing aid to victims of domestic violence members of our City’s homeless population, disseminated food, PPE, and school supplies to the entire Flatbush community.
  • Samura Jones, director of the non-profit HEADS/Hope Market based out of Hope City Church, provided fresh fruits and vegetables to the East New York community through the Hope Market initiative, which expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic to also provide food to protesters and opened the church to the community as a testing site.
  • Through her Just A Kid With A Dream Foundation, Inc., author and community advocate Cindy Similien held an online women’s empowerment event in May; a virtual community baby shower in July, supporting expectant mothers by mailing them supplies such as baby wipes, books, and diapers; provided economic opportunities to 36 New York City high school students via stipends from her book sales by teaching them career and leadership skills online, and mailed mental health and wellness packages to 45 families.
  • During the toughest days of the pandemic in our borough, Imtiaz Ahmed, who co-owns Al-Rayaan Muslim Funeral Services in Brooklyn with his brother-in-law Zafar Iqbal, oversaw the burials according to the Muslim tradition of more than 200 who had succumbed mostly to COVID-19-related illnesses.
  • Imam Ahmed Ali Uzir of Brooklyn’s Iqra Masjid Community and Tradition oversaw approximately 150 burials over an intense five-week period during the pandemic, which required him to retrieve bodies from homes and hospitals, recite the janazah prayer, perform the ghusl (washing), and drape the kafan (shrouding) in accordance with Islamic tradition as well as transport the bodies to the cemetery.
  • Lora Mezhiborsky, director of social services at the Kings Bay Y/JCC Brooklyn, has worked tirelessly since the start of the pandemic to ensure that Brooklyn’s most vulnerable families and seniors have nutritious food to eat, arranging for thousands of meal packages to be delivered to seniors, many of them immigrants and Holocaust survivors who have been isolated during COVID-19.
  • Eva Santos, site director for Grand St. Settlement/Bushwick-Hylan Community Center, began operating her site six days a week starting in April, to serve more than 200 community members daily. She coordinated her staff and volunteers to distribute meals to seniors who could not leave their home and picked up food for children in grades K-8 so they did not have to go outside their housing development. On Saturdays, she and her team distributed PPE and hot meals to the homeless in the community.
  • Flatbush Food Co-Op at Cortelyou Road delivery staff, who balanced their personal health and safety needs during the COVID-19 pandemic with the needs of the store, delivered food to residents in need throughout the neighborhood.
  • In addition to caring for residents diagnosed with COVID-19, professional clown Aaron Pesin volunteers to bring joy and laughter to others. Aaron visited The Guild for Exceptional Children’s 13 group homes on his clown cycle to put on a show.
  • Even though she is considered to be in a higher risk category and recognizes the dangers of COVID-19, Olga Manns has diligently continued in her role as community services leader at the Bethel Seventh-Day Adventist Church, where she and her team have been working to provide food to those who are homeless and in need from the church’s food pantry since 2006.
  • Organized by Member Secretary Firoz Ahmed, the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations of North America (FOBANA) and its member organizations mobilized to provide COVID-19 antibody tests to more than 2,500 people at eight locations throughout New York, including Brooklyn. With the help of Kazi Sakawat Hossain Azam, volunteers went door-to-door to deliver groceries to hundreds of hungry residents in need who do not have the means to purchase or were unable to leave house to purchase food essentials.
  • Mohamed Bahe, founder of the 100 percent volunteer- and donation-driven non-profit Muslims Giving Back (MGB), has tirelessly worked to provide free Halal food to food insecure, homeless, and hungry members of the community, as well as to protesters marching for racial justice.
  • When COVID-19 hit, Prospect Cleaning Services (PCS) President Ingrid Murray watched as 65 percent of her business vanished. Then she received a call from MTA to help them keep Metro-North on track, which not only allowed her to keep her business moving, but allowed her to hire an additional 50 essential workers who were recently laid off from other industries. Once the city began to reopen, PCS was chosen as one of the providers via a grant to help retail businesses in Brooklyn reopen, while also speaking on webinars providing clergy and City agencies with best practices in safely reopening.
  • TropicalFete, a local Caribbean arts and cultural organization, served the borough in a variety of ways through COVID-19. Teaching artist and SUNY Downstate Medical Center health care worker Daria Primus was selected among six finalists in NYC Beatz Coronavirus Song Contest, while also working on the frontlines. Expressing herself best through music, Daria seized the opportunity to spread awareness about the coronavirus through her artistry, getting the word out there to be mindful and stay safe. Uplifting interactive remote programming for youth and seniors was provided throughout the pandemic by steel pan music instructor and performer Ashley Murray, steel pan performer/instructor/promoter Ricardo Greenaway; pottery teacher and stilts teacher/performer Charles Watts, and stilts teaching artist/performer Caitlyn Pierre.
  • Actor Jeffrey Wright started Brooklyn For Life to help feed first responders and support small businesses. So far, he has provided meals to our frontline fighters at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, The Brooklyn Hospital Center, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health – Cumberland, NYC Health + Hospitals/Gotham Health – East New York, Interfaith Medical Center, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital, Woodhull Medical Center, and Brooklyn FDNY EMS Battalions 31, 32, 35, 38, 39, 40, 43, 44, 57, 58, and 59.
  • Nestled at the end of Flatbush Avenue in Southern Brooklyn is Nick’s Lobster House, one of Brooklyn’s most beloved waterfront dining institutions, where general manager and executive chef Dimitrios Karousis and his dedicated staff worked to provide free meals to frontline workers during the pandemic.
  • Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District (BID) Executive Director Chad Purkey dispatched 20 volunteers throughout Fort Greene to provide food and essentials to New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) communities and other food-insecure residents in need. They distributed approximately 20,000 donations of 750,000 pounds of food since COVID-19 started.
  • Longtime Fort Greene resident and real estate attorney Jed S. Marcus and his One Community NYC organization executed the distribution of food to Fort Greene and Clinton Hill residents living in various NYCHA communities. With its coalition of 22 partner organizations, each week more than 60 volunteers delivered food to seniors and other vulnerable people who live in low-income and public housing.
  • The Queens Chapter of the worldwide humanitarian organization, the Rotary Club, led by President Nabaraj KC, arranged for the distribution of PPE, Tylenol, and thermometers throughout Brooklyn and Queens to members of the Nepali community, living up to their motto, “Service Above Self.”
  • The 400 Bainbridge Street Block Association in Bedford-Stuyvesant served the community in a variety of ways amid COVID-19. River Fields collaborated with his neighbors and partnered with the New York City Police Department (NYPD)’s 81st Precinct and his local church to transform his block into an open space, offering residents opportunities to cope with stressors, manage fears, and find relief through quality, socially responsible programs led by artists, creatives, performers, and wellness experts. He also launched Synergy, an online repository of remote youth employment opportunities in response to the cancellation of the Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) and helped sew and deliver more than 2,500 face masks to families in need with Michelle Spence-Fields and Rus Fields. Erin Su Sakar and Orrett Spence also helped launch a community agricultural project to bring healthy nutritious food to residents.
  • Broadway artist, activist, and Edward R. Murrow High School alum Javier Muñoz activated the Broadway Relief Project, whereby he worked with out-of-work costume and set designers to manufacture PPE for health care workers at local hospitals to keep them safe while tending to COVID-19 patients. The effort yielded thousands of gowns and masks for hospital workers.
  • When COVID-19 necessitated the citywide shutdown of 63,000 businesses, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Randy Peers, recognizing that most establishments at risk are those that did not qualify for government assistance, launched the Brooklyn Recovery Fund to assist local businesses with small grants to avoid permanent closure due to insolvency. The program provided no interest loans ranging from $500 to $30,000.
  • With the arrival of COVID-19 coinciding with warmer weather, Chico Boyer with Paul Beaubrun and the Zing Experience encouraged Brooklynites sheltering at home in Ditmas Park to get back to that truly great Brooklyn tradition of hanging out — in backyards and on front stoops — to enjoy small, socially distanced outdoor concerts.
  • Under the stewardship of Co-President Noah Katz, PSK was one of the first supermarkets to create first responder “express lanes,” giving priority to and advancing police, fire, health care workers, probation, and corrections officers to the front of the line, after stressful 12-hour shifts. PSK also provided $25 gift cards, totaling $100,000, to first responders during COVID-19.
  • Since the beginning of the COVID-19 shutdown, The Campaign Against Hunger (TCAH), one of New York City’s most trusted anti-hunger non-profits, led by Founder and Executive Director Dr. Melony Samuels, has served approximately one million meals, reaching upward of 7,000 families a week, with a trajectory that is expected to exceed 10,000 families a week, to Brooklyn’s food-insecure and hungry families.
  • During the COVID-19 crisis, Jennifer Guzman, Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center’s director of emergency management and transport, worked closely with her teams to include morgue duties, ensuring the dignity of expired patients especially when transported onto the morgue trucks.
  • Dr. Sandra Scott, chair of the Emergency Medicine (EM) Department at Brookdale University Hospital and Medical Center, transformed the program into a reliable EM service for the Brownsville and East New York communities, which were especially impacted by higher rates of COVID-19 transmission. Serving on the frontlines during the pandemic, Dr. Scott helped to calm frightened colleagues and provided comfort to patients and their families while implementing new standards of care for a highly contagious disease.
  • Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Charlie Bové, Interfaith Medical Center (IMC)’s senior vice president and chief operating officer for more than six years, displayed an unwavering commitment to the well-being of hospital workers and patients, coordinating with all staff to manage the unprecedented influx of patients while adhering to the constantly changing regulatory requirements. Displaying a calm and steady demeanor, Mr. Bové enabled IMC to effectively address the significant operational challenges during the height of the pandemic.
  • Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center’s Kurt Kodroff, MD, appointed by the One Brooklyn Health System (OBHS) as CEO and COO to coordinate an action plan for the COVID-19 pandemic, developed a senior clinical and administrative management team to focus on rapid responses to an ever-changing environment. Dr. Kodroff ensured that OBHS was able to surge to the needs of the day at any given moment.
  • When Brooklyn became a COVID-19 “hot spot,” Carren Samuels, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center’s director of respiratory therapy, worked with her colleagues to initiate newly-learned best practice therapy techniques of combining disciplines to achieve outcomes using high-flow oxygen, BiPAP, patient turning, and chest therapy. She has been a model for clinical interdisciplinary collaboration and worked tirelessly on a 24/7 basis to ensure that Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center’s patients were attended to in a fast-changing environment.
  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center’s Chief Nursing Officer Maria Arias was instrumental in expanding Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center’s capacity for acute and critical care beds and aggressively recruited and reallocated staff with a steady hand in an effort to deliver seamless care to critically-ill patients.
  • Michelle Barnes-Anderson turned her pain into purpose. After losing her son to gun violence, she formed the Melquain Jatelle Anderson Foundation: Fighting Against Gun Violence Via Education and conducted several distributions of PPE to fight the spread of COVID-19 in the DUMBO community in which she lives. In addition, she provided groceries to seniors, the homeless, and neighbors living with disabilities.
  • Joseph L. Corace, longtime member of the Kiwanis International service club and president of the board of the Kiwanis Pediatric Trauma Center Foundation, as well as one of the Brooklyn borough president’s ambassadors, was instrumental along with his club in securing and distributing PPE, meals and other items to hospital workers at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island and to the community.
  • Lookman Moshood, co-owner of the popular authentic Nigerian and street foods restaurant, Buka New York, facilitated the distribution of free African and Halal foods and thousands of PPE items to members of the community.
  • Jerry Kwabena Kansis, executive director of the Ghanaian-American Heritage Committee and one of the Brooklyn borough president’s ambassadors, was instrumental in facilitating the distribution of food and PPE to Brooklyn residents who were in need.
  • Led by founder and owner Christa Lynch, Brooklyn Braised mobilized to provide 1,000 meals for families living in homeless shelters and those experiencing hunger.
  • Delta Rho Omega Chapter members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. hit the ground running, providing service to the Brooklyn community from the very outset of the pandemic. Their efforts included, but was not limited to, wrapping 10,000 face masks for Brooklyn Borough Hall, to be disseminated throughout the borough; donating $1,000 to the Brooklyn4Life initiative; hosting an IG DJ dance party that raised more than $8,000 for The Campaign Against Hunger; hosting weekly virtual webinars to share information related to COVID-19 survival and coping for the public, and donating 1,200 toiletry items for distribution by Brooklyn Borough Hall.
  • Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas (ANPA) Dr. Nelson Aluya, MD organized seminars on Zoom to educate people on how to prevent getting infected with COVID-19 as well as free government testing for patients who are mostly new to America. He also facilitated the distribution of free PPE to residents in need throughout various communities.
  • Clarisse Mefotso-Fall, founder and executive director of the health and immigration services organization African Hope Committee, organized fundraisers to purchase 1,000 pieces of PPE to be freely distributed to low-income new immigrants throughout the city.
  • When the COVID-19 pandemic began, 12-year-old PS 195 Manhattan Beach honors student Leah Pavlov used her allowance and birthday money to buy groceries for making individually prepared bag lunches three times a week, which she donated to essential frontline workers in the emergency room (ER) at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island.
  • Khady Kone rolled up her sleeves to cook and provide hot meals to those in her community who were experiencing hunger and food insecurity, exacerbated by the economic fallout from the pandemic, and distributed the meals to a local mosque.
  • After COVID-19 struck, the program directors and nursing staff from ADAPT Community Network, which works to create a more inclusive world for children and adults living with disabilities, have been in the trenches, particularly in their residential locations — never taking take any days off or working from home remotely.
  • Master Ming Yu (Yuanhui Liu), president of American Buddhist Confederation, donated more than 120,000 surgical, KN95 masks, as well as gloves to Brooklyn Borough Hall.
  • When COVID first hit New York, Starbucks decided to close nearly all stores while proper health and safety measures/materials were put in place and ordered. After a month of preparations, Jernialle Juba Peters’ store was the first to re-open. She quickly established her store as the Brooklyn hub for supporting first responders, ordering and preparing extra coffee, tea, and pastries for delivery across the borough.
  • Throughout the pandemic, Don Hong and UA3 have distributed hundreds of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit, produce, and other food items to underserved areas across Brooklyn. Their volunteers have sorted and packaged food products for individuals, churches, food pantries, and other community groups to assist in tackling food insecurity and poverty.


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