I recently attended an event at the beautiful Loeb Boathouse, sitting in the heart of Central Park at the 72nd Street entrance, to hear about a worth-while cause.
I didn’t know I couldn’t drive into the park and I felt lost, so I jumped into a pedicab who took me to the handsome restaurant and catering hall.
There, I was introduced to 90-year-old Gloria Starr Kins, editor in chief and publisher of Society and Diplomatic Review, a publication devoted to covering the diplomatic world at the United Nations. She was reporting on the people assisting the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, which helps orphans and AIDS victims in Uganda.
I had the pleasure of meeting the group’s Executive Director Twesigye Jackson Kaguri, who was born in the town he now devotes his life to.
He was even recognized for his work and was given the 2012 CNN Hero Award.
Jackson shared with me his latest book, “Victory for my Village,” about his life’s journey that started in a small village in Uganda and takes us through his path to America, where he received his college degrees, but he never forgot his hometown. He writes about how he created programs for his village that had been devastated by HIV leaving many orphans. Thanks to him, help arrived for the villagers. The book’s subtitle is “Fulfilling the Promise,” which is a sequel to his previous work, “A School for My Village.”
At the luncheon I attended, Nyaka thanked and recognized runners who participated in the New York City Marathon, raising money for his cause. A worthy run worth fighting for!
Dining at Sylvia’s with an icon
I had the pleasure of dining at the famous Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem with an icon of that community, Lloyd Williams, the president of The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce.
Because of my media outlets, I had joined the Harlem Chamber of Commerce and got to know Lloyd and am delighted to be working with him on his remarkable projects.
Coming up in the summer of 2020, he’s already planning another extraordinary event: a music festival that he hopes will bring the world to Harlem.
Spending time with Lloyd is a walk down the history of Harlem and the people who have made it great.
We met at Sylvia’s for dinner. Sylvia Woods, known as the Queen of Soul Food, started her restaurant in 1962 and now the next generation has taken over and has maintained the high quality food and service she is known for worldwide.
The restaurant and catering hall fills almost an entire city block. When I arrived early for my dinner date, I sat at the bar and watched how the tables filled up on a rainy Monday night.
My friend Tanya tells me that on Sunday, the line for brunch is out the door because one of the features — besides the scrumptious buffet — is the wonderful music with guests getting to sing, and Tanya’s husband always takes the microphone!
We sat in the back room and I relished looking at the photos of all the famous people who have eaten at Sylvia’s. My favorite Ruby Dee and her husband Ossie Davis were looking down on me, as was President Clinton.
The room is painted in a soft green and offers great acoustics for the music. There were two birthday celebrations and it was a treat to hear the staff sing a very energetic “Happy Birthday” to the guests.
Lloyd and I shared the coconut-wrapped fried shrimp and Sylvia’s Sassy Chicken Wings made in a tasty sauce. My fried chicken was served very quickly, along with delicious garlic mashed potatoes and string beans. Lloyd chose lima beans and corn off the cob as his sides. Each dish lived up to my expectations.
We finished our dinner with desserts — I had the mouthwatering peach cobbler, and Lloyd had the coconut pie.
Both the company and dining experience will be embedded in my memory bank.
Try Sylvia’s at 328 Malcolm X Blvd. in Harlem. They do take reservations (212-996-0660), but patience is an important ingredient in dining at Sylvia’s. Try it and you’ll love it, too!