BROOKLYN, NY – Six “Do Gooders,” whose good works include everything from growing food for the hungry to fighting pollution to helping children of imprisoned parents to teaching music to young people to planning community events to helping promote civic engagement among new and long-time Brooklyn residents, were chosen as recipients of the first-ever Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards, an initiative of the Brooklyn Community Foundation, the first borough-wide charitable organization focused solely on Brooklyn. Awardees were selected by a panel of judges for their selfless charitable work for the betterment of Brooklyn and its residents from among 20 finalists who were determined by an outpouring of participation by thousands of people who cast over 300,000 votes online. Each Brooklyn Do Gooder Awardee will receive $5,000 to reinvest in his or her Brooklyn charity(s) of choice or in a Brooklyn Community Foundation Field of Interest fund and be publicly recognized on November 3, 2010 at the “Brooklyn Does Good” celebration at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Palm House. The inaugural Brooklyn Do Gooder campaign, which invited the public to nominate and then vote for individuals who display an outstanding sense of giving back to Brooklyn, was launched in August online at www.DoGoodRightHere.org.
“We are thrilled with the outpouring of enthusiasm and participation in the Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards campaign and have been inspired by the work and spirit of generosity shown by all 250 nominees. After the fierce yet friendly competition, judges selected the six individuals for their commitment to Brooklyn, their great work and their ability to inspire and lead others,” said Marilyn Gelber, President of the Brooklyn Community Foundation. “We salute this year’s inaugural winners of the Brooklyn Do Gooder Awards – they are an inspiration to all of us to Do Good Right Here!” she added.
Brooklyn Do Gooder Awardees represent each of the Foundation’s five fields of interest: Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement and Green Communities. Awardees are below:
ARTS FOR ALL
Chinita Pointer, Executive Director of the Noel Pointer Foundation
Chinita Pointer, wife of the late, award-winning violinist Noel Pointer, has a vision of creating a string orchestra for children in Brooklyn and connecting them to higher education. Her work as the Executive Director of the Noel Pointer Foundation helps give youth in Central Brooklyn an opportunity to excel in the arts and beyond. The program provides young people a place to hone their craft and be surrounded by positive role models. “If we can change their lives, it’s a snowball effect,” she says.
Melony Samuels, Founder and Executive Director of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger
Once a top-selling life insurance agent, Melony Samuels now helps change and save lives. As Founder and Executive Director of the Bed Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, which was started as a food bank with pre-packed bags, Samuels now helps provide 10,000 meals to families living in poverty with a market-style space which also provides on-site services and classes so clients can learn to do for themselves. In 2008, with the help of volunteers and community members, Samuels helped convert a vacant lot into Victory Garden Farm, Bed Stuy’s first community focused urban garden which yielded more than 1200 pounds of produce in its first season.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT (two winners)
Chip Cafiero, Founding Partner, Shore Road Parks Conservancy, Community Emergency Response System
A native Brooklynite, former school teacher and father of five, Chip Cafiero is Bay Ridge’s go-to person for all community events. Born Emil Oliver, Chip helped create the Shore Road Parks conservancy and Community Emergency Response Team (CERT1NYC) after the 9/11 attacks and continues to volunteer his time helping preserve parks, coordinating parades, festivals and educating local youth through concerts in the parks, Halloween walks, and other community events.
Linda Sarsour, Co-Founder of the Arab American Association of New York
Linda Sarsour is first-generation, first-born and says she is “never leaving Brooklyn.” As co-founder of the Arab American Association of NY, this young mother of three uses her leadership skills, fluency in English and Arabic and cultural understanding to organize voter registration drives workshops and engage an under-represented community. In 2008, she coordinated the largest Get Out the Vote Effort in the history of the Arab-American community in Brooklyn.
EDUCATION AND YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT
Sharon Content, Founder, Children of Promise NYC
Sharon Content went from being an accountant to founding Children of Promise NYC, an after school program and summer day camp specifically designed to meet the mental health and social needs of children of imprisoned parents. She decided to take action after learning about the multiple challenges and needs of children in these circumstances through her work and volunteering with the Boys and Girls Club and the Osborne Foundation and hasn’t stopped.
Murad Awawdeh, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE)
Murad Awawdeh is an American-born Palestinian who wants his home—Brooklyn—to be greener. When he was 10-years-old, Awawdeh walked around Sunset Park, knew he wanted a park and more trees, and set out to make it happen. He became the a founding member of the Environmental Enforcers, a cadre of young people who look out for the community’s environmental rights, and a principal organizer in a campaign to defeat a 520 megawatt power plant in the neighborhood. As an environmental justice advocate and volunteer for over thirteen years within his community and for the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), he is helping green this neighborhood and make Brooklyn healthier.
ABOUT THE BROOKLYN DO GOODERS AWARDS
The first-ever Brooklyn Do Gooder campaign is a borough-wide initiative that set out to identify and honor those who embody the highest values of community giving and service. The campaign, which also celebrates the first anniversary of the Brooklyn Community Foundation since its re-launch in October 2009, invited the broader Brooklyn community to identify individuals who display an outstanding sense of giving back locally—with time, talent or charity and to nominate and to vote for them online. Nearly 300,000 votes were cast to help determine 20 finalists from among nearly 250 nominees. A panel of judges consisting of local leaders chose awardees to represent each of the Brooklyn Community Foundation’s fields of Interest: Arts for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement and Green Communities. Winners will be publicly recognized at an event on November 3 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and will receive an award and $5,000 each to re-invest in the Brooklyn nonprofit community. For more information, go to: www.DoGoodRightHere.org.
ABOUT THE BROOKLYN COMMUNITY FOUNDATION
The Brooklyn Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in Brooklyn through grantmaking and by encouraging local giving and community service. The first and only one of its kind in Brooklyn, the Foundation was founded in 2009 to support the borough’s most effective nonprofits in five Fields of Interest: Art for All, Caring Neighbors, Community Development, Education and Youth Achievement, and Green Communities. Since 1998, operating as the Independence Community Foundation, the Foundation distributed over $70 million in grants throughout New York Metro area, more than half of which was in Brooklyn. Learn more at: www.BrooklynCommunityFoundation.org; Follow on Twitter @DoGoodBklyn.