St. Nicholas Home Honors Three Community Leaders at its 36th Anniversary Gala

On Saturday, Sept. 22, the St. Nicholas Home, a nonprofit interdenominational residence for senior citizens in Bay Ridge, hosted its 36th Anniversary Gala at the Staten Island Hilton. The event brought out elected officials, civic leaders and members of the clergy to help raise funds for the home located at 437 Ovington Ave.

Guests included U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, state Sen. Marty Golden; state Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, realtor Aida Nicolaou, president of the St. Nicholas Ladies Auxiliary, attorney Joe Elhilow, Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Simon Shamoun and Golden’s Deputy Chief of Staff John Quaglione.

The St. Nicholas Home opened its doors in 1982. It was the dream of the late Rt. Rev. Gregory Abboud of St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral on State Street to build a residence for elderly people in the Arab-American community. Abboud died in 1978, but not before he signed the contract to purchase the old Bay Ridge Hospital. Along with Richard Zarick and his wife Florence, the property was secured and Abboud’s dream became a reality.

Edward Mafoud, chairman of the St. Nicholas Home board of directors, served as master of ceremonies. “When you come to one of these events and support the St. Nicholas Home you are part of our family,” Mafoud said. “We cater to approximately 70 adult senior citizens. The residents range in age from 55 to 100, so we have several generations of seniors at the St. Nicholas Home.”

Mafoud said that since its opening, the St. Nicholas Home has had hundreds, if not thousands of residents come through its doors. “We provide all our residents with a warm, comfortable bed, three meals every day, snacks, room service, laundry and security,” Mafoud said. “And we also provide them with social activity because we don’t want to have our seniors sitting on a couch all day long. We want to keep them active, healthy and provide them with the highest quality of life.”

Right Rev. Thomas Zain of St. Nicholas Cathedral and Father Antoine Rizk, pastor at the Church of the Virgin Mary delivered the invocation.

Elhilow presented the Community Service Award to Dr. John Ashkar, a pulmonary disease and critical care specialist who has been practicing medicine for over 20 years and owns a medical facility in Brooklyn.

Elhilow read Ashkar’s impressive list of awards and achievements and explained that Ashkar is following in his father’s footsteps as a board member of the St. Nicholas Home and as its physician in residence. “Dr. Ashkar is listed in “Who’s Who in American Doctors” and his activities are a who’s who, literally, of community service and medicine,” Elhilow added.

Shamoun introduced honoree Dr. Hassan Wehbeh, director of the New Beginnings Perinatal Center of Bay Ridge. Wehbeh was previously named a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Shamoun said it was an honor for him to present Wehbeh with the award because “I love good people that do things for no reason other than to do good things and Dr. Wehbeh fits right into that category.”

Elhilow returned to present honoree Ralph Succar with his award. Succar is a community leader who owns Empire State Development LLC, and resides on the boards of almost every community service group in Bay Ridge, including the Salaam Club of New York, the Bay Ridge Community Council and The Rotary Club of Verrazano. Elhilow called Succar a major force in Bay Ridge. “I don’t think there’s an organization that exists that he is not a member of, and more importantly president of,” Elhilow said. “He’s the type of person who simply rises to lead.”

Each award recipient received a certificate of special congressional recognition from Donovan, and certificates of merit from Golden and Malliotakis.

“The St. Nicholas Home has done so many great things for our community over the years,” Golden said. “They allow our seniors to have the best living and care facility available and the best quality of life. They reach out and help families across Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. I also commend their choice of this year’s honorees and all the good work they’ve contributed to the St. Nicholas Home and to our community.”

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.