Community Tribute Set For Five Locals
The organization, Friends Honoring Friends, will host a community tribute to five Rockaway residents at the Imperial Room in Inwood on Saturday, June 7, from noon until 4 p.m., a spokesperson for the group has notified The Wave.
The five honorees are Juanita Watkins, Dr. Ed Williams, Isaac Parsee, and Ernest and Jeanette Brown.
Watkins will receive the group's "Phenomenal Woman" award. The others will receive the "Extraordinary People Giving Extra Ordinary Service" award.
Watkins served Rockaway in the City Council from 1992 until 2000. She has been a strong advocate for Rockaway in many areas, including senior citizens and youth. She was one of the first supporters of the Joseph P. Addabbo Family Health Center, which now services hundreds of local residents on a daily basis.
In addition, she played a major role in convincing Governor George Pataki and President Bill Clinton to declare parts of her district a disaster area after severe flooding in 1999.
Watkins began her long career as a teacher. She moved to educational publishing, taking a position with McGraw-Hill, where she trained teachers and conducted seminars throughout the nation. She chaired the Queens Democratic Committee from 1972 to 1992.
Williams, the president of the local chapter of the NAACP, has more than 40 years in the field of human services and social justice.
After a time with EMS in its infancy, Williams moved on to become one of the youngest directors of emergency services at several city hospitals.
He went on to further his education and became a certified counselor, working for the Department of Juvenile Justice, assigned to a juvenile detention center.
He is the president of Everywhere and Now Public Housing Residents Organizing Nationally Together (ENPHRONT), a membership-based, resident-led advocacy group which has authored a national report called "False Hope."
The report, written with the National Law Project Poverty and Race Research Council, identified and documented the shortcomings of the HOPE VI redevelopment project.
Ernest Brown and his wife, Jeanette, have been involved with a myriad of Rockaway organizations and have served in many capacities over the years.
Ernest, for example, served on Community Board 14 for 12 years; on the Community School Board, where he was twice its president; was a founder of the Blanche Day Care Center; initiated the Rockaway Housekeeping Services and Rockaway Home Attendant Services and served as their president for 20 years; and cochaired the Edgemere Neighborhood Team (ENACT) and the Parent Action Program.
The couple has lived on the Rockaway peninsula for 45 years, where they brought up their six children. They now have an aggregate of 36 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
Brown moved to Rockaway in the early 1960's and almost immediately became an advocate for its students, particularly those at PS 106, his neighborhood school.
Brown found out that PS 106 was considered a satellite for PS 215 in Wavecrest and that most of the special needs money was going to the parent school.
He fought and won many battles for Rockaway students beginning with a fairer allocation of funds for PS 106. He and his wife have not stopped their advocacy nearly 50 years later.
Isaac Parsee, a long-time Rockaway resident, has been active for many years in both youth and community development organizations and programs.
The community tribute will be held at the Imperial Room, 259 Doughty Boulevard, Inwood, on June 7, from noon to 4 p.m. For further information, see the advertisement in this issue of The Wave.