The Hispanic Brotherhood of Rockville Centre held its Annual Scholarship Dinner on May 11 at Temple Avodah, in Oceanside. This year’s scholarship recipients are Darcy Aguirre, John Gutierrez, Brandon Borjas and Xavier Gonzalez.
Notable honorees included Dr. Adhi Sharma, the president of Mount Sinai South Nassau; Town of Hempstead supervisor Don Clavin; and Maria Conzatti, the president of Nassau Community College, among others who helped support the Scholarship Fund. The fund allows graduating students to enter a higher level of education and supports the organization’s After School Tutorial Program.
The Hispanic Brotherhood started modestly in 1976 through a grant from the Village of Rockville Centre’s Community Development Block Grants program. In 1984, after a small group of Hispanic residents wanted to assist the growing population of immigrants from different Spanish-language cultures, they officially established the not-for-profit agency.
Through the years the organization has expanded and provides daily assistance filing documents with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, citizenship counseling, employment placement, legal representation, housing referrals and emergency food provision. That’s on top of its two major programs, the After School Tutorial Program and Hispanic Senior Citizen Club.
“Today we are back stronger than ever, with our mission that started 40 years ago,” Executive Director Margarita Grasing said in a statement. “We are now running two Senior Citizen Nutrition Programs serving 11,496 Seniors, we are also providing Housing Counseling, HUD Foreclosure assistance,” and “many other valuable services to our community.”
Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin was awarded for maintaining and expanding diverse town programs such as the creation of the town’s Department of Community Affairs, which organizes cultural events and festivals – but, more importantly, for his work during the pandemic.
He secured funds to establish food banks; established a home meal delivery service that distributed millions of meals; and introduced the first mobile Covid-19 vaccination unit in New York.
When he received millions in funding from the state in 2020, he said, the first call he made was to Grasing. He wanted her to be a part of his response team of people to help determine how to help residents.
“I cannot stress the importance of Margarita’s voice, of Margarita’s ideas,” Clavin said, “of making sure every community was helped with federal funding, of making sure everybody got food.
“An idea that came from Margarita was, we gave out the ventilators and air purifiers to seniors. I can’t stress you all enough of the great work that she did during the pandemic. And it does not supersede the great work she’s done for this organization.”
Honoree Conzatti runs “a small city every day” at Nassau Community College. The first president who is also a graduate of the college, she has been working to launch new technology-rich academic programs in cybersecurity, healthcare, data analytics, medical assistant and chemical technology programs, on top of overseeing $90 million in construction and renovation.
Tuition at the college has been frozen for the third consecutive year, and $1.5 million in private and corporate donations helps provide additional scholarships, food and Metro cards to students.
“To the scholarship winners that are coming to Nassau,” Conzatti said, “you’re mine now. You will get the excellent education that I got, and you will succeed as I have, because that’s what Nassau does. To those of you that supported your community, certainly the county executive and the entire executive team in Nassau County, I don’t get $90 million on my own.”