Center for Women to honor Letitia James, Helen Sears

By Tom Momberg

The Center for the Women of New York is hosting its 28th-annual luncheon Saturday to recognize those men and women in New York City who have made great strides in women’s issues, many of whom are from Queens.

The annual luncheon will be held at the Douglaston Manor, 63-20 Commonwealth Blvd., in Douglaston starting at noon and serves as CWNY’s primary fund-raiser.

The nonprofit volunteer-based organization focuses on women’s rights and serves as a walk-in resource center for women. The group relies heavily on membership dues and private donations and the luncheon helps fund its operations as well as the renovation of its landmark building at Fort Totten in Bayside.

CWNY Founder Ann Juliano Jawin said the luncheon also gives the center the ability to recognize individuals in the city who aid women in society’s struggles.

The honorees are selected every year by the CWNY board of directors. Some of the honorees are people personally known by the board, whereas others are just those it believes need to be recognized, Jawin said.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and Deputy City Clerk Helen Sears, a former councilwoman in Queens, are to be honored as “Women of Distinction” during the event.

“Not only is Letitia James the first African American in a citywide position, but she is the first female public advocate. She has a strong interest in consumer issues, which end up often being women’s issues,” Jawin said. “As for Helen, she is tremendously active with the city Department for the Aging, and she is truly an outstanding person.”

Other honorees include Vivian Hardison of Rotary International District 7255, Leslie Mevrovic of Parker Health Services and Lourdes Ventura of the Queens County Women’s Bar Association. They will be accepting the “Women in Leadership” award.

“All of these women have made great strides in non-traditional ways,” Jawin said. “But we’re recognizing them because it’s kind of nontraditional for women to be so outstanding in these areas.”

CWNY will also be recognizing with its annual “Good Guy” awards, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights); Moses Ojeda, who is principal at Thomas Edison High School; state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst); and Jim Smith of United Veterans Beacon house and the former editor at Newsday.

“I established this award several years ago when it was so difficult to get women recognized. A lot of times it was men who helped put them in the spotlight,” Jawin said. “We focused on men that might not consider themselves feminists, but they have done many things to help women.”

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.