An Evening to Remember By Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver Durrah Neighborhood Assistance Clinic

Saluted New York City’s Nonprofits And the Neighborhoods They Serve

New York City’s nonprofits serve so many families and neighborhoods, but they often do not receive the credit they deserve. This changed on June 13th, 2017 when NTAC gathered at a special gala reception honoring NYC nonprofits. The gala was held from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm at Giando on the Water, located at 400 Kent Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11211. Eleven (11) nonprofits will benefit from free technical assistance this year. Those nonprofit beneficiaries include: John StepToe Foundation (Brooklyn), Carlos Lezama Archives & Cultural Museum (Brooklyn), Wall Ball (Staten Island), The Rock (Staten Island), Morningside Retirement & Health Services Inc. (Manhattan), The Liberian Organization (Staten Island), Judah International Center (Brooklyn), American Foundation of University of West Indies (Citywide), Negril Education Environment Trust (Caribbean), and Redeemed (Queens).

One of the evenings highlight was the presentation of the Hon. Shirley Chisholm Award to Mr. William “Bill” Howard. On hand to assist Founder/CEO, Rev. Dr. Valerie Oliver Durrah, were Hon. Ed Towns, Hon. Charles Rangel, Dr. Marcella Maxwell, Hon. Consul General Dr. Donna Hunte-Cox from Barbados, Hon. Annette Robinson, Hon. Rodneyse Bichotte, and Diana Giando and Anthony Prudenti, owners of Giando on the Water. In addition to a tribute to Shirley Chisholm, it was a roast of Bill Howard by all of Chisholm’s friends.

What made the event super special was a response from Bill Howard in terms of the work he has done to keep Ms. Chisholm’s legacy alive. Some of his notable accomplishments include but are not limited to the following:

Creating An Annual Shirley Chisholm Community Service Award for Innovation in Education to Corps Members of Teach for America

Commissioning oil on canvas of a 6 feet* 8ft portrait of Congressman Shirley Chisolm installed at Brooklyn Borough Hall, unveiled in June 2006 with over 600 guests in attendance.

Collaborating with USPS of the Naming Ceremony of Shirley Chisholm Post Office- Congressman Ed Townes, Senator Charles Schemer and USPS Officials.

Heading the Shirley Chisholm School Award in Brooklyn High Schools

Naming of Shirley Chisholm Democratic Club by Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte in Flatbush

Negotiating with ESPN and the Big 10 Colleges for honoring Shirley Chisholm’s involvement with the shaping of Title IX. (Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972-denied funds for men unless an equal amount were provided for girls and women in sports along with scholarships.)

Also honored was Yolanda Lezama- Clark (Trinidad), Caribbean Woman of the Year and Patrick “Johnny” Gomes (Antigua & Barbuda), Caribbean Man of the Year.

Mrs. Yolanda Lezama-Clark, the daughter of Carlos Lezama, the founder of the West Indian American Day Carnival Association, had this to say at the gala,

“As we celebrate our 50th and embrace the dream to a legacy, we must remember that as a community, we stand on a foundation of solid ideas and ideals put in place by our Carnival pioneers. I reflect on all of our leaders who helped to shape the foundation of this cultural event. Those cultural trailblazers who come to mind are: Jesse Waddle, who started the Carnival in Harlem during the 1930’s, Rufus Goring, who brought the Carnival to Brooklyn in the mid-60s, and Carlos Lezama, who with a single-minded determination imposed his vision to transform this cultural activity into the cultural icon that it has become in New York City. We now celebrate Carnival in approximately 30 other locations in the US and Canada. We are charged with the responsibility of living up to these ideals by providing a sense of cultural continuity to our children. Kala Ndakwe Kalu says it best when she quoted that, “the things you do for yourself are gone. But the things you do for others remain as your legacy”. Year after year of planning the Carnival activities, I do not think that Carlos Lezama, nor anyone associated with the Carnival, ever thought that we would have achieved this 50th year Anniversary milestone and furthermore, that I would be honored with Caribbean Woman of the Year, because of it. The NY Carnival has grown into a great symbolic moment and has meant so much too so many different people. This annual re-union has become a Cultural, Political, Economic, Social, and nationwide event that promotes unity and a strong sense of pride shared by all of the Caribbean community. I am grateful to be considered for this wonderful ‘Caribbean Woman of the Year’ award. Thank you.”