Brooklyn Heights Association presents 2019 Community Service Awards
At its annual meeting at St. Francis College on Tuesday, the Brooklyn Heights Association presented its Community Service Awards to four groups and individuals who have made “significant contributions to the neighborhood’s quality of life and enhanced its spirit of community.”
Neighborhood favorite Tom Stewart, host at Thirteen WNET New York, emceed the award ceremony with his usual savoir faire.
Awardees included the volunteers who comprised the BQE design build team that went to Albany; Dozier Hasty, publisher of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle; Judith Moch, CAMBA, for the Respite Bed Program that operates the homeless shelters in Brooklyn Heights and Jane Woland, who operates the food pantry at the First Presbyterian Church.
Yehudit Moch, CAMBA, for the Respite Bed Program: Award for Outstanding Service to the Wider Community
Emcee Tom Stewart told the standing-room-only crowd, “Currently, one out of every 110 city residents lacks a home, and therefore must fend for themselves by sleeping on streets and subways throughout the city. And that include here in Brooklyn Heights. As part of the obligation that we share to the wider community, Brooklyn Heights is actively involved in helping to ameliorate this situation. For many years, CAMBA, a Brooklyn nonprofit organization, has worked to build a more inclusive city where all residents have access to the resources and support services they need to survive.”
Describing how the program works, Stewart continued, “With the assistance of religious institutions throughout Brooklyn, CAMBA operates the Respite Bed Program to house homeless single men. The program functions in tandem with CAMBA’s Gathering Place Drop-In Center, which operates 24 hours a day, seven days per week. At the Drop-In Center, clients receive three meals a day and have access to shower and laundry facilities, as well as case management services and assistance with entitlement programs, not to mention medical and mental health services. Following a rigorous screening, those who qualify are transported each night to a Respite Bed site.
“In Brooklyn Heights, CAMBA partners on a rotating basis with the Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue, Grace Church Brooklyn Heights, as well as St. Ann and the Holy Trinity to provide safe overnight shelter for up to a dozen homeless men. Each night, seven or eight volunteers from these institutions are involved in cooking, serving meals, preparing the cots, and some of them actually stay overnight.”
Stewart commended CAMBA’s expertise, experience, resources and dedication, recognizing in particular Yehudit Moch, the operation manager of the Respite Bed Program, who ably manages 20 sites throughout Brooklyn and the 40 congregations involved; and CAMBA’s President and CEO Joanne Oplustil. (pictured above)
Other CAMBA officers and congregational coordinators present to witness the event included Kathy Reynolds, Anne Landman, Elizabeth Stong and Nancy Trott. CAMBA Vice President Carol Rubinstein and Directors Annette Rivera and Sheila Stainback were also present.
First Presbyterian Church’s Food Ministry: Award for Outstanding Service to the Community
First Presbyterian Church, which in three years will mark its bicentennial, has for the past 15 years opened its doors each week to reduce hunger.
Before the church began the food pantry, the Brooklyn Heights area was not well served by hunger-relief services. The First Presbyterian Church responded to the need. Today, members of the congregation, volunteers from Packer Collegiate, the Brooklyn Autism Center and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church work at the pantry on a regular basis. Further assistance comes from two Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) groups, which supply fresh food, and from grant support by the Food Bank for New York City, which enables the church to buy food from wholesale sources.
Stewart said, “The program’s success depends in great measure on Jane Woland, a volunteer who has overseen the program for 10 years. She keeps things running smoothly when the doors open and people come inside. Behind the scenes, Jane manages the budget, directs the volunteers, buys the food, coordinates deliveries, makes sure the shelves are neatly stocked — and accepts donations.
“The more than 100 people who arrive on Thursday mornings are warmly welcomed by the 10 volunteers who distribute the wholesome food that is found on the church’s shelves. No questions are asked. No one is turned away. The pantry serves the working poor, those with fixed incomes or limited mobility, out-of-work breadwinners and low-income caregivers.”
He explained that the clients are given the freedom to choose from among the stocked items those foods they would like, rather than being given a prepackaged selection.
“All clients receive the same respect and dignity as members of our extended community.”
A predecessor of the Food Pantry was the Two-Penny Lunch that four church elders established in the 1990s. They were Dorothy Gill, Dorothy Turmail Lee Arnott and Delores Roberts (all now deceased).
Many years ago, the Brooklyn Eagle published a story about the Two Penny Lunch. At that time, Elder Dorothy Turmail had told the Eagle that she had spotted a homeless man taking shelter on church grounds. The ladies prepared a generous plate of food from a church event taking place the same night, and left it for him.
The next morning, they found an empty plate and two pennies, and thus a new ministry of preparing meals for homeless individuals received its name. Church Administrator Anne Solages told the Eagle this week that this outreach evolved 15 years ago into a much larger ministry, and that ten years ago, in 2009 Social Action partnered with Food Bank.
Dozier Hasty: Award for Responsible Brooklyn Journalism
The history of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle “has been a distinguished chapter in Brooklyn journalism and in the life of our borough,” Stewart said.
“During its initial 114-year history, the paper mirrored the borough’s rise and fall, and when it quit publishing in 1955, it signaled the start of Brooklyn’s decline over several decades. Fortunately, the Daily Eagle’s name lives on under the stewardship of Dozier Hasty, the publisher who revived the name and paper in 1996 and created a media empire,” Stewart said.
“Through Dozier’s leadership, dedication and single-minded determination, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle has continued its namesake’s tradition by reporting on the people, politics, events, issues, and indeed, the life of the borough whose name it shares.”
Stewart noted that while we live in an era in which journalism is often under assault from the increasingly fragmented political system, the impact of digital media, or the changed readership habits of the public, Hasty “has dedicated himself to journalism that respects true and objective reporting.
“Whether by the daily summary that appears in our digital mailbox or the physical paper that arrives at our homes or businesses, Dozier’s Daily Eagle reports on the local issues that are important in our daily lives, reinforces what it means to be a community and fosters the dialogue that is needed more than ever today to sustain our democratic institutions. In a highly uncertain world, we can depend upon the Daily Eagle for its fair and accurate coverage of the issues that shape our borough and of the people that animate what happens in our community.”
Stewart added, “For over 22 years, he has kept alive the spirit of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and chronicled our present, and in so doing, reflected the remarkable and still evolving renaissance of our borough.”
Design-Build Volunteers: Award for Outstanding Volunteerism to the Community
A year ago, a group of committed, community-minded volunteers joined with the BHA and boarded a bus very early in the morning to set out for Albany to persuade state legislators to authorize a Design-Build approach for the BQE Project.
In the thick of BHA’s present opposition to the city’s plan for a six-lane Promenade Highway, the success of this campaign is easy to overlook, Stewart said. “However, this campaign’s achievement will result in a faster, less expensive project and will lessen the disruption to our neighborhood.”
The bus was occupied not only by Brooklyn Heights residents, but by volunteers from the Promenade Gardens Conservancy and residents of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and Park Slope. “This group had a shared commitment to find a better solution to fixing the BQE that will expedite construction by reducing the potential for delays,” Stewart said.
On the day of the bus trip last March, the Design-Build Campaign volunteers were split into two teams to meet with the many senators and assemblymembers who could influence this legislation. A team also met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top transportation officials, who had a significant role in getting the legislation into the state budget, which made its passage much easier.
“For these volunteers, it was not just one exhilarating and exhausting day in Albany. In the weeks leading up to the Albany trip, they rallied their own communities and stakeholder groups to sign petitions and to call and email the key legislators with whom we met,” he added.
“In the end, this campaign finally succeeded in getting design build authorized after years of failure. There can be no question that the volunteers demonstrated the strength and influence that local communities can exert,” Stewart said.
The volunteers include: Roger Adler, Cheryl Baker, Neil Calet, Glenn Kelly, Craig Meachen, Sid Meyer. Jane
Platt, Bridget Reel, Karen Schlesinger, Kurt Steele, Franklin Stone and Marian Wood.
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