The ceremony was coordinated by Borough President Eric Adams’s office as part of his regular “Heroes of the Month” series.
This time, Adams recognized a diverse group of individuals and organizations that stepped up to help their neighbors and communities during the peak of the pandemic.
Honorees helped deliver food to community members, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline workers, created virtual programming for youth and seniors, and much more.
“The diversity of the task that was carried out is nowhere near the diversity of Brooklynites and New Yorkers who went beyond the call of duty,” Adams said. “Everyday people did extraordinary things to say that we will not allow the devastation of coronavirus to make us stay away from helping our neighbors.
“Although we reached a milestone of over 200,000 people losing their lives,” he added, “we know that more people did not lose their lives because of the heroes and sheroes here today.”
One of the honorees was Tiffiney Davis, co-founder and managing director of Red Hook Art Project (RHAP). Davis said the organization knew that when the pandemic hit, it had to show up in a different way for their community.
RHAP shifted to virtual programs, delivered art supplies directly to students’ homes and partnered with local restaurants, nonprofits and churches to better understand their needs and concerns.
The group solicited donations and distributed meals, diapers, PPE and other needed supplies.
Davis said Red Hook has been impacted by the loss of jobs, lack of education and ongoing food insecurity.
“We’re still continuing to do the work and we’re very grateful and humbled to be doing it,” she said.
“I never thought in a million years that I would be standing on these steps to be honored by Borough President Eric Adams or any elected officials,” Davis added. “But I’m honored to be here, especially as a woman of color.”
Another honoree was the Federation of Bangladeshi Associations in North America, which provided COVID-19 antibody tests to more than 2,500 people. Their volunteers went door-to-door to deliver groceries to hundreds of hungry residents, most of whom were unable to leave their homes.
“We are still doing it,” said Kazi “Azam” Hossain, one of the group’s leaders. “We are in eight places all over the five boroughs.”
Kashif Hussain, founder of the Pakistani American Youth Society (PAYS), said his organization joined a coalition of 17 groups that distributed 130,000 freshly cooked meals to impacted communities throughout the city.
PAYS teamed up with the Borough President’s Office, and employed and supported local businesses like gyro carts and food trucks.
They also partnered with the FDNY, NYPD and EMS to deliver food to different sites like Elmhurst Hospital, Maimonides Medical Center and SUNY Downstate, which were hubs of coronavirus-infected patients and frontline workers.
Hussain said when his group started this effort, they initially planned for it to go on for two weeks, since it was completely privately funded.
“But the overwhelming response and support and communities coming out on the streets, we felt it was very important for all of us to keep on doing it,” he said. “Every week, some new donor came to our door and said don’t stop doing this.”
Recently, PAYS launched its “Hunger Truck,” which goes throughout the city to feed people for free. Hussain said it provides 500 meals a day every Sunday.
Although he said the mission is not yet finished, after receiving his award from the borough president, Hussain said he didn’t mind putting a smile on his face, just for the day.
“We’re going to sip coffee together in a cafe now, and then after that we’re going to go back to work,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”