‘Women warriors’ recognized at St. Albans luncheon

By Kelsey Durham

City lawmakers came together in St. Albans Saturday to wrap up Women’s History Month by recognizing dozens of strong women praised as being some of the most dedicated community leaders in all of Queens.

The office of City Councilman Donovan Richards (D-Laurelton) hosted its first Sisterhood Soul Food Luncheon at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Life Center to honor women from around the borough who have shown commitment to helping their communities and the people around them.

About 150 women were invited to attend the ceremony, and nine of the top honorees were each presented with a proclamation from the city.

Tri Hinds, who planned the event, said the luncheon was suggested by Richards as a way to recognize those whom she called “women warriors,” including politicians, civic leaders and other community advocates who spend their days, and sometimes nights, helping others.

“It allows those who are dedicated to the community to come together and laugh, talk and just have a good time,” Hinds said. “These are all people who just want good things for their neighborhoods.”

Richards delivered the event’s opening remarks and said his office wanted to host the lunch in order to be sure the women who lead communities across Queens are not looked over, but instead are given the recognition they deserve.

“This nation and this city would wither away without women,” he said. “The truth is that women have and always will be the backbone, collarbone and any other bone you can think of in every family, and today we pause to simply say thank you for all you have done.”

Other guests of honor who delivered speeches at the event included Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito (D-Manhattan) and Borough President Melinda Katz.

Each addressed the group of women with praise and thanks for the sacrifices they have made to help better their communities before Richards handed out the nine awards to various women who have stood out as leaders of causes ranging from crime prevention to youth group leadership.

Khadijah Oluwo, one of the group’s youngest honorees who was recognized for her work to help stranded senior citizens in the days after Superstorm Sandy hit Queens, said she was overwhelmed with emotion after being given her award and hearing the wonderful things Richards had to say about her.

“I truly appreciate all of this,” Oluwo said. “I’m happy that what I do really does affect the community.”

The eight other honorees were Annette Bradley, Valerie West, Doris Jacobs, Marcia O’Brien, Bess DeBethem, Lilly Lucas, Silaka Cox and a representative from the Edge School of the Arts.

Hinds said that Richards plans to make the Sisterhood Soul Food Luncheon an annual event and hopes to continue recognizing the women around the borough who work hard every day to achieve their goals.

“There are really no words to express what they do and what they’ve sacrificed for their community,” Richards said.

Reach reporter Kelsey Durham at 718-260-4573 or by e-mail at kdurham@cnglocal.com.