Several Indian-Americans Among Local Leaders Honored At Community Recognition Night

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas speaking on the Senate floor in Albany as his fellow legislators applaud. Sen. thomas is the first and only Indian-American lawmaker in the Empire State’s history. (Photo courtesy office of Sen. Thomas)

New York State Senator Kevin Thomas, the only Indian-American elected to Albany, recognized 20 individuals recently for their service and dedication to their communities at the annual Community Recognition Night.

Twenty honorees were presented with the 2019 New York State Commendation Award this Jan. 8, 2020. The prestigious honor is given to individuals who have distinguished themselves through volunteerism, civic involvement, philathropy, and other forms of service to their community, a press release from Sen. Thomas said. At least 3 of them are of Indian or South Asian origin.

Those honored included:

  • Reverend Reginald Benjamin, Executive Director of the Able Body Believer’s Alliance (ABBA) Leadership Center
  • Captain Charles Roberts, Captain of The Salvation Army Hempstead Citadel Corps
  • Bonita Bishop-Johnson, educator and Director of the Artistry Performing Arts Center
  • Stephanie Draine and George Graydon, founders of Life After Loss – A. N. D. R. E.
  • Irene A. Duszkiewicz, Director of Hempstead Public Library
  • Chantel Dixon, mother, cancer survivor and advocate for women who are currently fighting breast cancer.
  • Tina Schuford, community advocate, President of 100 Terrace and All The Way 100 % Inc.
  • Dr. Sherin Abraham, Nurse Practitioner and CPR instructor
  • Marc Aracena, teacher at Uniondale High School and Volunteer at the East Meadow Fire Department
  • Theresa Catapano-Black, Commissioner of the Bethpage Water District Board
  • Biju Chacko, community advocate
  • Colleen Ciullo, community advocate and VP of Legislation at the Garden City PTA
  • Robin Fitzpatrick, EMT and second lieutenant at the East Meadow Fire Department
  • Denise Michaelis, President of Clarke Music Parents Association
  • Eileen Napolitano, community activist
  • Laura Proppe, Brain & Body Yoga Teacher and Educator
  • Heidi Sanft, 1st Vice President of the Nostrand Gardens Civic Association
  • Christine Scheppa, registered nurse and community advocate
  • Syed Shuja Ahmed, community advocate
  • Francis Abnet, community advocate and union leader




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