Ceremony Honors Volunteers and Local Organizations That Went Above Call of Duty in 2021
New York City Mayor Eric Adams today marked the end of National Volunteer Month by honoring volunteers through the “2022 Mayoral Service Recognition Program: Building Together for Tomorrow” for work done to help New Yorkers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. At a virtual ceremony organized by NYC Service, Mayor Adams recognized volunteer and civic engagement efforts led by community-based organizations, businesses, and residents that have uplifted communities and fueled the city’s recovery.
“Service is what makes New York the city that it is, and, throughout the past two years, service has mattered more than ever,” said Mayor Adams. “Service has made our communities stronger and played a vital role in helping our city respond to and recover from the pandemic, and I want to thank every New Yorker who has served our city and helped their neighbors. And I know that by continuing to serve, we will move forward and ‘Get Stuff Done’ for New York.”
“New York City overcame the darkest days of the pandemic because of the selfless work of everyday volunteers,” said Deputy Mayor for Strategic Initiatives Sheena Wright. “When COVID-19 tried to tear us apart, volunteers kept us and our city together. Thank you to the brave volunteers who answered the call for the betterment of our city.”
“Service is central to what it means to be a New Yorker,” said New York City Chief Service Officer Laura Rog. “As we have seen in the last year, the hundreds of thousands of volunteers and over 3,000 AmeriCorps members serving in New York City made a critical impact on the city’s recovery efforts. We thank them for their time and their efforts to support our city when it has been needed most.”
The Mayoral Service Recognition Program is an annual citywide celebration of volunteers and service members, recognizing efforts to build solutions in response to community challenges and meet residents’ most urgent needs. Among volunteer efforts highlighted during this year’s event were food donation initiatives, park cleanups, neighborhood beautification projects, and recreational classes for communities.
NYC Service received more than 200 nominations for the four awards categories. The awardees completed service projects in 2021 that directly impacted communities hit hardest by the pandemic and were selected for excellence in building community through service.
The 2022 Mayoral Service Recognition Awardees honored for exceptional service in 2021 are:
- Nirmala Singh — Honored with the AmeriCorps Alum Impact Award for embodying the AmeriCorps spirit of “Getting Things Done” in New York City communities beyond their service year. Nirmala, an AmeriCorps Alum (’17-’18), and a native of Guyana, leverages her AmeriCorps experience and passion for serving the most vulnerable to address the rise of gender-based violence in the South Queens community. Recognizing how the pandemic would exacerbate gender-based violence, Nirmala and her sister activists founded South Queen's Women's March, a local gender justice nonprofit in South Queens. Through her organization, Nirmala has co-led monthly, culturally responsive, pop-up food pantries and essentials distribution, such as period supplies, masks, toys, and more to ensure resources are readily available and accessible to women in South Queens.
- El Centro del Inmigrante — Honored with the Community Impact Award for leveraging the power of volunteers in innovative and resourceful ways to strategically address community needs. El Centro volunteers supported vaccination efforts by organizing regular on-site COVID testing, outreach with public health resources, and vaccine distribution on Staten Island’s North Shore. Volunteers conducted targeted vaccine outreach, including campaigns for restaurant workers that resulted in 431 immigrant restaurant workers receiving their first vaccine, West African community campaigns, and a campaign to reach the unhoused population on Staten Island. El Centro and their volunteers also organized high school vaccine distributions and vaccine distribution to children under the age of 12. El Centro's volunteers have further helped to host a variety of engaging afterschool youth programs and cultural events to encourage safely distanced, outdoor events for children during COVID.
- S. Katzman Produce and DREAM — Honored with the Partnership Impact Award for an innovative partnership in service to a community. The partnership between S. Katzman Produce and DREAM brought access to healthy food to families impacted by the pandemic in the South Bronx and East Harlem. The partnership began shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic hit New York City and continued through 2021, with S. Katzman Produce — assisted by volunteers from DREAM's community — donating and helping to distribute more than 10,000 bags of fresh fruit and produce to families in East Harlem and the South Bronx over the past two years. These distributions have leveraged DREAM’s ability to expand its family engagement practices and overall pandemic relief efforts.
- Shalom Task Force Youth Outreach Board — Honored with the Youth Impact Award for going above and beyond to create tangible impact in their community. Sarit Katz, Raffi Weil, and Noyah Shebshaievitz first started volunteering for Shalom Task Force through the Purple Club Fellowship — the first leadership development program of its kind to empower Jewish high school students in ending dating and sexual violence. As part of their service with the board, Sarit, Raffi, and Noyah developed Purple Clubs in their respective high schools and engaged over 150 New York City high school students in workshops about domestic violence and their role in prevention efforts, helping to eradicate the stigma around these topics within the Jewish community.
NYC Service builds partnerships to deepen and expand civic engagement through volunteer and service programs, creating sustainable change for the city's greatest needs. Over the last year, NYC Service united New Yorkers in service for a more equitable and inclusive city by connecting New Yorkers, community-based organizations, businesses, AmeriCorps members, and other institutions to address the most urgent issues communities experience. NYC Service directly supported hundreds of community-based organizations across the five boroughs by providing volunteer engagement capacity through a cohort of 100 AmeriCorps members, technical assistance, and tools, as well as more than 20 free trainings for nonprofit staff.
Fostering the importance of volunteerism as a strategy to support the city’s recovery and to rebuild communities hardest-hit by COVID-19, NYC Service infused 20 community-based organizations with $10,000 in funding for volunteer efforts and engaged 45 corporate
“South Queens Women’s March is a volunteer-led and intersectional organization working to foster women’s empowerment by dismantling patriarchy and gender injustice hyper-locally,” said Nirmala Singh, co-founder, South Queens Women’s March (SQWM). “We take to the streets to unify women and gender expansive people in our community and connect them to the tools and resources necessary to empower their own lives and thrive. I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition for SQWM, and commit to continue our fight to curb gender-based violence and promote gender equity in South Queens.”
“El Centro's devoted staff and volunteers make our work possible. With full hearts, we all stand alongside our community, doing whatever necessary to uplift, engage, grow with, and learn from the people we serve,” said Michelle Molina, co-executive director, El Centro Del Inmigrante. “There is no greater motivation than the prosperity of our community.”
"DREAM is incredibly grateful to be able to shine a light on all the work S. Katzman Produce has done for our communities throughout the pandemic,” said Richard Berlin, co-CEO, DREAM. “Their partnership, swift mobilization, and acts of service through the past two years provided our families with a sense of security and allowed us to further commit to the health and wellness of our students. Stefanie and the Katzman team continue to champion food access for the communities who need it most and we are proud to partner with them."
“As one of the largest produce wholesaler/distributors in the Northeast, our mission is to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables for New Yorkers,” said Stefanie Katzman, executive vice president and fourth generation in her family’s business, S. Katzman Produce. “It’s a privilege to partner with DREAM to feed the students and their families, introduce children to fresh fruits and vegetables at an early age, and instill good eating habits early to promote good health.”
“Throughout the pandemic there has been a tragic increase in domestic violence cases,” said Sarit Katz, chair, Shalom Task Force Youth Outreach Board. “I am thankful to my fellow chairs on the Shalom Task Force Youth Outreach Board for their help and aid in preventing these cases. Together, we can make an impact, and it all start