Local Dems honor four southwest Brooklyn stars

March 18, 2015 Helen Klein
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Four local luminaries – including the publisher of this newspaper – were recently honored by the Shorefront Democratic Club.

At a gala fundraiser held at Sirico’s, 81st Street and 13th Avenue, the 20-year-old political organization named Home Reporter and Brooklyn Spectator Co-Publisher Victoria Schneps its Woman of the Year, along with Man of the Year attorney Gregory Cerchione; Civic Award winner Igor Vaysberg, deputy chief of staff to Councilmember Mark Treyger; and Coney Island Service Award winner Margaret Williams, a community activist who is also a renowned singer.

Democratic District Leader Dilia Schack singled Schneps out both for reinvigorating The Home Reporter and Spectator and bringing “A lot of charm and history to them,” and also for her ongoing efforts on behalf of people with developmental disabilities. She founded Life’s WORC to aid her own daughter, and was instrumental in the eventual closure of the infamous Willowbrook State School.

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“She didn’t sit around and wait for people to do for her,” stressed Schack. Rather, she said, Schneps did what she had to, “to get help for her daughter.”

That effort, Schneps said, led to her starting the Queens Courier in her “living room with her four children and a $250 investment.” Today, she and her son Josh run 19 publications, websites and events.

“I am so delighted and passionate about serving the community as you do every day,” Schneps told the crowd. “I thank you for this but for me, every day is about serving the community and I don’t need a prize for it. It’s what I am about.”

Cerchione was cited for his all-around efforts, and his modesty. Brooklyn Democratic Party Chair Frank Seddio called him an “enormously talented man,” noting, “He’s one of the people you notice when he walks into a room, not because he thinks he’s special but because we think he’s special for the kind of person he is.”

Vaysberg, in his position on Treyger’s staff, does a tremendous job of serving the community and the individuals who come in for help, said Treyger.

As for Williams, the beloved activist and director of music and choir at the Coney Island Gospel Assembly Church didn’t just accept her award, she brought the room to its feet with a spirited singing performance, harking back to her days as a member of the Cookies, an R&B group which hit its stride in the 1950s and 1960s.

BROOKLYN MEDIA GROUP/Photos by Arthur de Gaeta


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