DYKER HEIGHTS — One of Brooklyn’s most venerable organizations, the Dyker Heights Civic Association, held its annual testimonial dinner on Thursday, Oct. 25 at Sirico’s Caterers, 8023 13th Avenue.
Longtime association President Fran Vella-Marrone hosted the evening honoring two deserving community leaders, Dr. Joseph Caruana and Dawn Musorofiti.
“I’m so pleased tonight to have the two honorees that we have,” she told the crowd. “Dyker Heights Civic Association has been around for over 90 years and throughout those 90 years, we’ve always been about improving and maintaining the quality of life in this neighborhood and speaking out for this community. The two honorees we have tonight have made this neighborhood and this community better and that’s what we try to do.”
Caruana has been a member of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians for 25 years and is a past president of the Medical Society of Bay Ridge. He was named one of the top doctors in New York City by New York magazine. He has been a member of the Rotary Club of Verrazano since 1992 and remains on its board of directors. Caruana is also chairperson of the board at HeartShare Wellness.
“My roots in Dyker Heights run very deep,” said Caruana. “My grandfather had a fruit and vegetable store just a few blocks from here in the 1950s. I try to serve this community the best I can both in my profession, as a family guy and to do as much community service as I can.”
Caruana spoke passionately about the opioid epidemic and the fact that he tragically lost a son to the epidemic. “My son died from this disease despite years of treatment,” he said. “Through the Verrazano Rotary Club, we established a foundation in his memory, and drug enforcement and rehab are certainly important as we fight this epidemic.”
Caruana explained that the focus of the foundation is to teach prevention. “We need to prevent the disease of addiction by educating our youth about the dangers of opioids like we teach them about the dangers of tobacco,” he said.
Musorofiti is the owner of Romeo Foods, 7105 15th Avenue, a corporation that includes among its customers some of New York’s best restaurants, institutions and catalog companies. Her clients include over 1,000 companies in the food industry including Bagel Boy, Ho’ Brah a Taco Joint, Sofia’s restaurant and Tuscany Grill in Bay Ridge. Musorofiti is also involved with charitable organizations such as the Kiwanis Club, Belmont Children’s Association and the Ronald McDonald House.
“I am truly blessed. I don’t donate my time or money to get awards or recognition. I do it to give back to the community,” said Musorofiti. “It’s because I have a soft spot in my heart for people facing difficult circumstances. I feel deep compassion for those who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”
Assemblymember Peter Abbate presented each of the honorees with citations. “It’s always great being at the Dyker Civic Association reception,” Abbate told this paper. “It’s important that they maintain the organization; it’s one of the oldest organizations in the neighborhood and truly this is the one event that helps them sustain their yearly function.”
The Dyker Heights Civic Association was established in 1928 as a result of the increased development of Dyker Heights. Its first civic improvement was having a local dumping ground cleaned up that same year. In the 1940s, the association was instrumental in having power cables placed underground along a stretch of Fort Hamilton Parkway.
The association was instrumental in the building and opening of the Dyker Heights Library in 1972. It lobbied the city for decades and mobilized community support. Today, the Dyker Heights Civic Association continues to play an important role in the community including fighting illegal home conversions, working to make the Dyker lights enjoyable and safe for all, and highlighting the issues and concerns of Dyker Heights residents.
Besides Vella-Marrone, the civic association’s other officers are Gussie Sichenze, vice president; Joann DiMeglio, corresponding secretary; Sandy Vallas, treasurer and Gloria Calicchia, recording secretary.