By Rebecca Henely
State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) honored City Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras (D-East Elmhurst) and two other Queens women Friday for International Women’s Day.
The ceremony, held at the Astor Room, at 34-12 36th St. in Astoria, is the second of what the two neighborhood officials plan to be an annual event for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month.
“This is an event I wanted to do since before I was elected,” Simotas said. “We have so many wonderful, trail-blazing women in western Queens.”
Held March 8, International Women’s Day was started in 1909 in the United States by the Socialist Party of America as a celebration of working women but has become a day to recognize the accomplishments of women and the struggles they face across the globe.
Simotas and Maloney used that day in Astoria to recognize three women of northwestern Queens.
Ferreras received the Glorida D’Amico Award for Leadership in Politics, which is named after the first female Queens County clerk.
Simotas said Ferreras was honored for her work as head of the Council’s Women’s Issues Committee combatting domestic violence and sex trafficking.
“She really has a way of getting to the heart of the issue,” the assemblywoman said.
Ferreras said she was deeply moved to be honored outside the neighborhoods she represents on the Council, which include East Elmhurst and parts of Jackson Heights, Corona and Elmhurst.
“As elected officials, we write the proclamations, we don’t receive them,” she said.
Maloney and Simotas gave the “Community Service Award” for Evie Hantzopoulos. A woman of many hats, Hantzopoulos is the executive director of Global Kids Inc., which helps youth in underserved communities in the city and Washington, D.C., but she is also co-president of the PS 85 Parent Association, a former member of Community Board 1 and a writer for The Huffington Post.
Hantzopoulos, who has three daughters, attributed her success to the support of her husband, but also her sister and co-workers.
“When you lift up women and girls, you lift up the whole society,” she said.
Finally, Gianna Cerbone, a Long Island City chef at Manducatis Rustica, was given the Excellence in Small Business Award. Cerbone started an LIC Business Women organization to help other female entrepreneurs and reached out to others in the community in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
Cerbone said growing up, her mother told her the way to be a successful woman was to assist other women.
“Go out there, be strong and be a good woman to everyone,” Cerbone said her mother told her.
Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at email@example.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.