There’s nothing like a mother’s love.
Shorefront Toys for Tots held its Annual Pre-Mother’s Day Brunch on Saturday, April 18 and honored 10 Brooklyn women who devote their days to helping children – something that Brian Gotlieb, president of Shorefront Toys for Tots, said means a lot to him because of his own late mother, Myrna Helene Gotlieb, who inspired him to found the organization.
“My mother was somebody who was very active and involved in children’s causes and helping others,” said Gotlieb. “She taught me, from my first memory until she passed, the importance of being involved in the community [and] of helping those who aren’t able to help themselves and [that is] something that resonated in me and pushed me to start the organization in her memory.”
Gotlieb, who is also a practicing attorney and chairperson of Community Board 13’s education and library committee, calls the organization a “labor of love.”
“Everyone gravitated towards my mother,” Gotlieb explained. “Any child who needed something, she was one of the first to be there to try to solve the problem. That was the inspiration for starting this organization. We collect toys and games and books and puzzles and we distribute them during the holiday season. We focus primarily on Southern Brooklyn [and] since we’ve started the organization, we’ve helped over 34,000 in total.”
The 10 women chosen to be honored, called “Surrogate Mothers” at the event, go “above and beyond the realm of just family,” according to Gotlieb. They each display a deep commitment to their work with children.
This year’s honorees were Priscilla Consolo, founder and executive director of the Speak-Up & Clean Up Campaign; Maria Di Graziano, president of District 21’s Presidents Council; Salema Marbury, principal of P.S. 329; Dilia Schack, past president of the Ragamuffin Parade Committee; Madelene Torres, housing specialist with the Astella Development Corporation; Gina Dacchille, parent coordinator at P.S. 253; April Leong, founding principal of Liberation Diploma Plus High School; Nicole Robinson-Etienne, assistant director of government and community affairs at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s NY Aquarium; Victoria Stancil, former president of the Marlboro Houses Residents Association; and Laurie Windsor, president of Community Education Council District 20.
“We had a little over 200 people attend the event,” said Gotlieb, “and that’s in large part to the fact that each of our honorees has done an amazing job on behalf of the community and people want to come to honor them.”