The good news is that six Brooklynites have just won the first annual “Do Gooder” awards. The bad news? They can’t keep the prize money.
But then again, these “do gooders” — Chinita Pointer, Melony Samuels, Chip Cafiero, Linda Sarsour, Sharon Content and Murad Awawdeh — would never be so greedy as to think that they could keep the $5,000 prize money that they just won from the Brooklyn Community Foundation.
The cash goes instead to a charity of their choice — and, dammit, these people are such do-gooders that they don’t even mind!
“It wasn’t about me,” Melony Samuels, who runs the BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger, said in predictable humility (darn these people. They’re superhuman!). “Now, we’ll have the opportunity to feed people in the upcoming tough winter.”
Fellow winner Linda Sarsour at least admitted to one human frailty before reverting back to angelic grace.
“I love to shop, but a lot of my money goes back into the community, so it gives me gratification that the money is going back to the group,” said Sarsour, who runs the Arab American Association of New York.
All the winning Good Samaritans were selected by the Foundation from 20 finalists picked by voters from a pool of 250.
Yes, a lot of some great “do gooders” ended up getting snubbed — but all that means is that these six are the cream of the crop:
• Chinita Pointer wants to get music stuck in your kid’s head. As the executive director of the Noel Pointer Foundation, she provides an environment where the next musical prodigy could grow through mentoring and scholarship programs.
• Melony Samuels uses community gardens in Bedford–Stuyvesant to grow not only vegetables, but a sense of community. Her BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger, which plants veggies in community gardens to replace the junk food widely consumed by, well, the wide. Her charity also offers health screenings and career-building workshops.
• Chip Cafiero is involved in so many community activities in Bay Ridge, it’s a wonder he ever sleeps (he doesn’t, actually). He helped found the Merchants of Third Avenue Association, the Shore Road Parks Conservancy, and the Community Emergency Response Team, which was created in response to 9-11. He’s involved in many more charitable organizations, and helps plan almost every parade, concert, or event that happens in the neighborhood.
• Linda Sarsour knows that the city can be tough for recent immigrants. That’s why she offers Muslim arrivals a smooth transition through her organization, the Arab American Association. Her organization provides language classes, health workshops, and after-school tutoring, and also organizes a very effective get-out-the-vote campaign.
• Sharon Content started Children of Promise New York City in Bedford–Stuyvesant to address the toll that having an imprisoned parent takes on kids. The organization provides after-school activates, summer day camps, and positive role models to kids whose parents are incarcerated.
• Murad Awawdeh is only 23, but has been involved in environmental education in Sunset Park for almost half his life. He works with the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), an environmental justice group, and has advocated for more green space and has helped fight the implementation of a large power plant in the neighborhood.
The winners will be presented with their plaques — but not their checks! — at a ceremony on Wednesday night.
Brooklyn Do-Gooder Award presentation at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [1000 Washington Ave. at Eastern Parkway in Crown Heights, (718) 623-7220]. Nov. 3 at 6 pm. Tickets are $75. For info, visit www.dogoodrighthere.org.