Brownsville

BP Adams honors soft-hearted baker, inspiring teacher, as Brooklyn’s Heroes of the Month

June 23, 2016 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Holding their Hero of the Month proclamations are, left, Maria Nitti, and right, Rose Graham. Borough President Eric Adams is second from right, front row. The awardees are surrounded by their families and supporters. Photos by Mary Frost

On Tuesday, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams honored two local heroes — a baker who organizes birthday celebrations each month for children at a Brownsville homeless shelter, and an educator in East Flatbush who has inspired generations of students and their parents for more than 30 years.

Baker Maria Nitti of Isabella’s Creations in Bensonhurst was declared May’s “Hero of the Month,” and P.S. 399 Stanley Eugene Clarke School Vice Principal Rose Graham won the honor for the month of June. The two “she-roes,” as Adams called them, were accompanied by friends and family to accept a proclamation from Adams.

Nitti “sweetens” life for homeless kids at the CAMBA Flagstone Family Center in Brownsville by organizing local vendors who supply goody bags, cotton candy, birthday cake, gifts and a DJ or magician for birthday parties for the kids at the shelter.

“A home is more than four walls … it allows us to experience the American dream,” Adams told the crowd. “When children are living in shelters, it’s amplified during holiday season or when a birthday comes around, and no one acknowledges your birthday because of their economic challenges.

“What Maria is doing is more than just saying happy birthday to children, she’s actually building memories,” he continued. “We all remember our birthday, remember someone cutting a cake, singing a song, and if we were fortunate, getting some kind of a gift. It is part of developing the full personhood of the child.”

He added, “She’s not doing this for money … She’s doing it because she acknowledges the need, and she fit the need with the action,” Adams said.

When Adams told Nitti that her nonprofit would be receiving a check for $5,000 to continue the work, tears streamed down her cheeks.

 “Our next party is Sunday – we’re having a luau for the kids. Any help we can get is appreciated,” she told the crowd.

Graham was honored for inspiring generations of East Flatbush students and their parents for more than 30 years through innovative, year-round programming.

“She made an impact on the lives of young people in the Brownsville and Flatbush neighborhoods,” Adams said.

Graham helped to create literacy programs to encourage children and their parents to spend more time reading. She initiated a summer STEM — science, technology, engineering and math — program for local youngsters, joined a local community board to be a voice for the kids, and runs adult literacy programs, Adams said.

“Failure is not an option for these youngsters,” Graham said.

She added, “I challenge everyone in here today, whether you’re a dignitary or not, to renew your energy, your passion and your purpose. I just want to say that teaching is not a job, it is a calling.”

BP Adams shares a lighthearted moment with awardee Rose Graham.