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Brooklyn Community Services celebrates 150 years with celeb chef

Top chef: Celebrity chef Carla Hall hosted the Brooklyn Community Services’ 150th anniversary gala on Monday night.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

This party was really cooking!

Celebrity chef Carla Hall hosted a Downtown benefit gala to celebrate Brooklyn Community Services’s 150th anniversary on Tuesday night, and the social services organization’s head honcho said was a great way to let loose and commemorate the sesquicentennial.

“It’s a really momentous milestone occasion for us,” said Marla Simpson, who is the executive director of Brooklyn Community Services. “We were delighted, and everybody had a great time.”

The organization raised $1.1 million on the big night and is planning to put the moolah towards its programs, which include mental health services, job training, family counseling, and day care, Simpson said.

Along with Hall — who is opening a new fried chicken restaurant in the Columbia Street Waterfront District this month — “America’s Next Top Model” contestant Fatima Siad, Borough President Adams, and First Lady Chirlaine McCray all lent their star power to the event.

The organization started out as the Brooklyn Children’s Aid Society — founded after the Civil War to help house, cloth, and feed street kids — and the Brooklyn Bureau of Charities — created a few years later to help poor families — according to a publication it put out when celebrating its 100th birthday.

The do-gooding outfits eventually expanded into healthcare, legal aid, services for the blind and disabled, and job training as disease and poverty ravaged the borough around the turn of the century and through the Depression.

Amongst other things, the organizations also ran a milk pasteurization plant below the Brooklyn Bridge and a home in Coney Island for sick kids to get out of “pestilent-ridden tenements,” according to the publication.

The organizations later merged as the Brooklyn Bureau of Community Service, and then became Brooklyn Community Services in 2010.

Now, Simpson sayd the outfit is now looking forward to another 150 years in the borough.

“One-hundred-and-fifty years from now, we’ll be doing it again,” she said.

Reach reporter Lauren Gill at lgill@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–2511. Follow her on Twitter @laurenk_gill

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