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Angela Pisakhova: Youth advocate helps kids connect with their culture

Angelika Piskahova
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

A “desire to help others and make this world a better place” is what drew Angelika Pisakhova to the community service sector four years ago. She now serves as general manager of the Tovushi Kavkazi Jewish Youth Center — a position that she has held for the past two years.

Pisakhova is also a volunteer for the Be Proud Foundation, an organization that focuses on civic and social issues, and often partners with the Tovushi Kazkavi Youth Center for programs offered in conjunction with the local New York Police Department.

The Woman of Distinction’s colleagues have only admiration for her.

“I am very happy and proud of Angelika,” says Yunna Ivzhenko, a fellow vollie at the Be Proud Foundation, upon hearing that Pisakhova is being honored. “And proud to be her friend.”

Tovushi Kavkazi Jewish Youth Center opened in 2011 because there was a need for a youth center such as this to aid working families, and to serve as a safe space for children to go, play, and take care of each other — like a community. Young Kavkazi Jews, hailing from the Caucasus Mountains of Russia, come to the center after school to play, learn, and meet caring people, such as Pisakhova.

“Angelika is very caring and giving, very modest and polite,” Ivzhenko adds. “She would never ask for anything, she only helps silently, not for a thank you, not for prizes or glory, not for money; she is very genuine and sincere.”

The center provides a space to connect with friends new and old, all while enabling the children to connect with their religion. It offers after-school programming that consists of varied activities, including chess and sports. One of the most popular offerings is the traditional dance class, which many children take a few times per week. The dance troop has performed at many community events around Brooklyn.

Tovushi, which means “light” in English, exemplifies Pisakhova’s role at the center.

“I ran from war and now that I am safe and my kids are raised in peace I try to give back more to all kids and families in my community,” she says. “I try my best to help them learn their culture, and value what they have.”

At the center, the children make friends with others who share the same background. They may live in different neighborhoods and go to different schools, but their culture is the same, and they connect on a deeper level because of that, says Pisakhova.

The facility also offers a camp during the summer months for the children in its programs. During the religious holidays, the center serves as a gathering place not only for the children, but for their families.

Pisakhova keeps coming back day after day because her work is “part of something bigger.”

“Realizing that I help a new generation to succeed makes my work worthwhile,” she says. “I love seeing how the children grow up and become better, stronger, more beautiful people, and so genuinely happy.”

Neighborhood: Sheepshead Bay.

Occupation: General manager.

Company: Tovushi Kazkazi Jewish Youth Center.

Claim to Fame: “Having kids around me.”

Favorite Brooklyn Place: The small park under the Verrazano Bridge.

Woman I admire: “Svetlana Shagabaeva, who raised me as her own, became my mother, gave me proper education, and taught me everything I know.”

Motto: “If you believe, you can achieve!”

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