Star of Brooklyn: Sylvia Whiteside

October 10, 2014 Editorial Staff
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COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Volunteer work isn’t a temporary job for some people. For Community Board 18 member Sylvia Whiteside, for example, it’s been a lifetime commitment. The senior-senior, as she identifies herself, has resided in Canarsie for almost 59 years. She grew up in Bedford-Stuyvesant, but was born in Illinois, the fourth generation descendant of a freed slave.

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Whiteside has served on CB 18 under three borough presidents. Representing the citizens of her district isn’t an easy task. “You have to help people deal with a lot of misconceptions that had a negative impact on their lives,” said Whiteside. “You have to try to help overcome that and do the right thing for the people of the community.”

Whiteside has been involved in other community-based organizations, as well. In the past she was President of the Bayview Houses Community Association. Currently, Whiteside is active at Saint Alban’s Episcopal Church in Canarsie, as a member of the Episcopal Church Women group, the vice president of the Health Guild, and a member of the senior choir.

EDUCATION AND CAREER: The Illinois native graduated from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s of Science degree, and Fordham University’s Graduate School of Social Service, becoming a licensed master’s social worker.

Now a retired social worker, Whiteside has no regrets about the career path that she chose. Seeking solutions for others is anything but an encumbrance to Whiteside. She says, “You’ll never be millionaire, but you enjoy helping people improve their lives.”

INFLUENCE AND AWARDS: The importance of volunteering was instilled in Whiteside from childhood, but a major figure of inspiration for her was Susan Samuels, a social worker that she met who helped students who were physically challenged.

Whiteside’s hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. She received the Sojourner Truth Award from the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc. (2000), the Woman of Wonder Award from National Council of Negro Women, Inc., and also awards from now deceased Congressmember Major Owens, just to mention a few.

FUTURE: A prime example of longevity, Whiteside is a great grandmother to four great grandchildren. As her family tree branches out, she continues to gain support from them towards her goals of helping to improve neighborhoods.

Whiteside is far from finished with being of assistance to the community. “I plan to continue to do the things that I have done,” said Whiteside. “I believe that if you help somebody, your living is not in vain.”

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