(Dec. 8, 2017, Brooklyn, NY): Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Rosie Mendez were among the distinguished women honored by Southside United HDFC-Los Sures, during the organization’s Puerto Rican Heritage Celebration, which was held on Thursday, December 7th at El Puente in Brooklyn.
Other honorees included Council Members-elect Carlina Rivera and Diana Ayala; Former Chief of Staff to Council Member Mendez Vanessa Lopez; Director of Constituent Affairs in the Public Advocate’s Office Julissa Santiago; Former Special Advisor to the City Council Speaker Erica Gonzalez; Community Liaison in Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez’s Office Evelyn Cruz; El Puente Community Leader Virginia Ribot and Los Sures “David Santiago” Senior Center Director Sonia Iglesias.
“This year we honored a number of women who have served our city so then supporters here in New York City look to honor them, especially in these trying times for Puerto Rico,” said Los Sures Executive Director Juan Ramos, who is Puerto Rican. “Early, these women that we are honoring have in some way or other, shown up for Puerto Rico in times of need and have definitely used their leadership and their voice to add attention to the crisis in Puerto Rico. This is why we chose to honor them this year,” he said.
The event, which was hosted in partnership with El Puente, highlighted the crisis in Puerto Rico and the success of local female leaders.
“The theme for the evening was two-fold: one is to bring together people in our community to really think about Puerto Rico, to continue to give and contribute in whatever way they can so that we can rebuild and continue supplying our people with the basic needs that they are struggling with,” Mr. Ramos said.
“The theme that goes along with this is to really look at strong leadership in the Puerto Rican community, in particular female leadership. Women have been at the forefront of the struggles that we face and they have used their voices, not just to further Puerto Rican causes but to say ‘Presente’ to any crisis that comes their way without hesitation,” he said, while explaining that the event “is also going to be a funder raiser in the sense that we will are still collecting canned goods, monetary donations, if any, to then partner with El Puente and others to forward them to Puerto Rico.”
The importance of acknowledging the impact of women resonates strongly with Ramos.
“We are selecting women in particular because what happens a lot in our Puerto Rican community is that a lot of the accolades go to men,” he said. “We know that the women have led and have been consistent with the Puerto Rican Community with no strings attached. It’s time that we recognize them, appreciate them and thank them for their consistency and service.”
Cultural food, prepared by Luz Garcia, “The Queen of Pasteles,” and music were also showcased at the Puerto Rican Heritage event.
Southside United HDFC – Los Sures®, www.southsideuintedhdfc.org, is a pioneering, community-based, non-profit organization that was among the first to answer the call to rebuild North Brooklyn 45 years ago. Not only has Los Sures undertaken large-scale rehabilitation of many buildings, allowing families and individuals to live comfortably while creating an aesthetically pleasing neighborhood, but the organization provides a range of social services, including a food pantry, a fresh produce distribution center, a senior center, tax preparation assistance, community and tenant advocacy and workshops. The organization also operates a community museum, El Museo de Los Sures, which showcases diverse artists.