Some of Brooklyn’s most prominent civic leaders attended the Neighborhood Improvement Association’s (NIA) 20th annual recognition awards dinner on Thursday, Oct. 4.
Held at Gargiulo’s Restaurant, 2911 West 15th Street, the event honored several individuals who have worked to better the community and who have shown support for NIA.
The NIA has been addressing issues that impact youth, families and seniors in the community since it was founded in 1981. It is a nonprofit community service organization headquartered at 6614 11th Ave. in Dyker Heights.
NIA’s board of directors includes President Michael Bove, Vice President Jerry Saporito, CEO Mary Anne Cino and Executive Director Rosa Casella.
The primary focus of NIA’s work revolves around expanded after-school partnerships that serve several thousand students daily, encouraging exploration and learning through the arts and sciences, developing new skills, providing opportunities for exercise, and fostering positive youth development and healthy lifestyle choices.
NIA offers free family counselling, free individual counselling and after school programs. “We have about 42 after school programs,” Bove said. “We also have computer design programs, dance, aviation, performing arts, daily homework support, arts education, physical education, photography, gardening and cooking.”
This year’s honorees were a diverse group of individuals with an exemplary record of service to the community including school leaders, NIA staff, law enforcement and sanitation workers.
They included George Miranda, president, Joint Council 16 International Brotherhood of Teamsters; Brian Conroy, commanding officer, assistant chief NYPD Patrol Borough Brooklyn South; John Cronin, president, Empire Paratransit and Pride Transportation Services, Inc.; Principal Jane McCord of P.S. 52R; and Principal Dr. Edwin Hernandez of JHS 227. The Humanitarian Award was presented to Frank Assisi, administrator of security benefits, United Sanitationmen’s Associaton, Local 831.
Community Service and Collaboration Award recipients were Andrea Abrams, P.S./I.S. 229 parent coordinator; Elaine Delaney, P.S. 186 parent coordinator; and Christine DiMatteo, I.S. 281 parent coordinator.
Elected officials attending the ceremony included state Sen. Marty Golden, Assemblymember Peter Abbate and City Councilmember Justin Brannan.
“NIA Community Services Network is such a worthy cause and I thank you all for the contribution you have made to make this event a great success,” Golden said. “Tonight, we are reminded that we must continue to provide support to organizations who give back so much to our community.”
The dinner’s honorary chair was Harry Nespoli, president of the Uniformed Sanitationmen’s Association.
“The NIA Community Services Network continues to make exceptional contributions to our community, borough and city through neighborhood participation,” Abbate said. “Additionally, the NIA Community Services Network’s dedication consistently meets and exceeds their ongoing mission of ‘building strong children, strong families and strong communities.”
Brannan presented the NIA with a check for $383,750 representing the city’s FY 2019 funding for the organization.
“I am so proud to support the NIA,” Brannan told this paper. “We work together very closely and I’ve had the chance to see firsthand all the great work they do in building our community through their robust after-school programs that foster positive youth development, teach new skills, and encourage exploration and learning across many of New York City’s most diverse and underserved neighborhoods.”