A Sheepshead Bay organization whose main goal is to support other Brooklyn communities came together earlier this month for a “community appreciation” awards ceremony, focused on the nonprofit’s most prominent theme: friendship.
Be Proud Inc., a not-for-profit organization that hosts a variety of networking and community service events and programs across the borough, gathered at Barashka Restaurant on June 9 to honor five local women for their support to the group’s mission and their day-to-day service to Brooklyn’s communities at large.
“This event is about friendship,” said Raisa Chernina, founder of Be Proud Inc. “My personal opinion is that, no matter how divisive things get, friendship is most important. And we can all work to be friends.”
Honorees included Police Officer Samina Alam of the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, Lina Chen, CEO of Health Essential Association, Inc., Chaplain Ingrid Lewis-Martin, chief advisor to Mayor Eric Adams, Nataliya Mirovych of Ukraine and Ukrainians Abroad, Inc., and Assemblymember Helene Weinstein.
“These are all remarkable women who have dedicated themselves to their community and to the mission of Be Proud Inc. They honor us by allowing us to recognize them,” Chernina said.
But the event wasn’t as much award-focused as it was about coming together, the group’s founder told Brooklyn Paper. “It’s not about the awards,” she stressed. “It’s just a small token of appreciation for those who are doing so much for other people.”
And Chernina has first-hand experience with paying it forward. The founder of Be Proud Inc. said that when she got into a car accident a few months ago, she ended up becoming friends with the other driver — despite both the stressful circumstances, and their own differences.
“We went back and forth about everything and later, she wrote me this incredible letter. We eventually became friends,” Chernina said, adding that that very woman attended the June 9 event on Avenue U. “They say God works in mysterious ways and this is my answer to that. It doesn’t matter what color skin, religion, nationality or country you come from, if you can sit down and talk, you’ll find that there is something very special.”
“Right now, there is no other way than to do with kindness,” she said.