Grimm hosts High Tea honoring local women

“Who said Brooklyn isn’t sophisticated?”

That was the question asked by Congressmember Michael Grimm as he hosted a High Tea at Boulevard Books and Café in Dyker Heights on Wednesday March 14 to celebrate local women being honored in conjunction with Women’s History Month.

The women selected — Arlene Rutuelo, Aida Nicolaou, Tatiana Nicoli, Georgine Benvenuto, Susan Esposito, Zeinab Badier, Eleanor Schiano and Phyllis Carbo — are active in southwestern Brooklyn, instilling leadership values and contributing to the community.

Rutuelo heads up the Norwegian Day Parade Committee; the Lebanese born Nicolaou was chosen as a 2008 New York State Senate Woman of Distinction; Nicoli, the owner of Boulevard Books, is co-president of the 13th Avenue Board of Trade; Benvenuto is the founder of Gallery 364; Esposito is the president and founder of Bridge to Youth; Badier is vice president of the Arab American Women’s Association; Schiano is an educator and long-time community activist and member of Community Board 10; and Carbo is active with the Mapleton Kiwanis, the Block Institute and the Sons of Italy.

“Your contribution is immense,” Grimm told the eight women. “You can never be overlooked and you can never be thanked enough.”

In Victorian style, teacups arrayed the table around which the women were seated, with a tower of traditional high tea pastries and sandwiches in the background.

Each woman was given the opportunity to speak about her accomplishments and goals. Each story was inspirational and unique. Some had escaped their homelands for a better life in America, while others overcame individual obstacles.

Joan Giachetti added a historical element by educating those present about the tradition of high tea. She elaborated on its importance as a recreational activity in the Victorian era, jokingly adding “people had nothing better to do with their time than visit each other, gossip and have tea.”

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