NEW YORK—March is Women’s History Month. This national celebration, established in 1981, used to be a weeklong event, but in 1987, the National Women’s History Project petitioned Congress to extend the holiday for the entire month of March.
In Brooklyn, 33 women were honored by the County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes on March 5. Among the honored were volunteers, counselors, advocates, community leaders, publishers, teachers, and others who sacrificed their time and hard work to help people in their communities.
This year marks the seventh time the D.A.’s office held the annual Extraordinary Women’s event. A huge calendar was installed in the lobby of 350 Jay Street with a different woman’s picture for each day. The women, who were selected from over 100 submissions, gathered in the lobby to hear Hynes offer his congratulations.
“Their outstanding work and willingness to help others has had an immeasurable impact on the lives of the residents of Brooklyn,” said Hynes.
Among this year’s winners is Susie Elliot, 82. Elliott has been a pastor at the Mt. Paran Baptist Church in Bushwick for 25 years. She has witnessed the neighborhood transform from a drug-infested danger zone to a clean and welcoming community.
“I love the fact that we are feeding those who are hungry and clothing those who perhaps need clothing. We counsel,” said Elliott. “And we do fresh farming; we pick up produce from the garden and divide the vegetables with the neighborhood and with the neighborhood at the church.”
Elliott worked for the Board of Education for 23 years, first as a teacher and then as a counselor, before becoming a pastor. Her husband was instrumental in cleaning up the corner of Broadway and Schaefer Street in cooperation with the 83rd precinct. The corner was renamed after him to honor his efforts in 2012.
“We helped some of the women who were on drugs, helped them to get their life back together and rejoin their families, things like that. I feel good about the continuing soup kitchen and the food pantry that we have,” Elliott said.
Joan Alexander-Bakiriddin was another Extraordinary Woman honored at the event. Alexander-Bakiriddin volunteered for various anti-violence initiatives in her neighborhood.
“There were some violent outbreaks within the area, so we went in just to make sure they knew there are people out there that care about them. We just wanted to make sure that we had a positive impact on our community,” Alexander-Bakiriddin said.
Alexander-Bakiriddin also volunteers for the Fresh Air Fund and Junior Achievement, a nonprofit youth education organization.
“For Fresh Air Fund, I do phone calls and outreach and envelope stuffing—whatever they need. For Junior Achievement, I teach,” Alexander-Bakiriddin said.
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