Sakhi Direct Services Staff Win Awards

Sakhi’s Direct Services Program Advocates Kajori Chaudhuri and Fatma Zahra were recognized for their outstanding work by a number of Queens-based social service organizations and the office of the Queens Borough President, Helen M. Marshall.

Kajori was among nine social service workers receiving general honors for her achievements in the field of social work and Fatma was the recipient of the Evelyn Pliego Memorial award, named after a social work supervisor who served at the Coler-Goldwater Hospital Complex for more than 25 years and who died in 2004.

The awards recognized Sakhi’s staff members for their demonstrated professionalism and dedication to empower the many survivors we serve.

Commenting on her recognition, Fatma said, “The award was a surprising honor. I was excited that they would acknowledge a lot of the amazing work taking place in Queens. I’m just happy to be part of the work taking place in Queens.”

Kajori added that it was “rewarding to be recognized for the work we do with survivors from Queens, which continues to be the borough from which we are seeing the most new requests for support.” In 2008, Sakhi received at least 219 new calls for assistance from Queens—nearly 30% of new calls for that year.

Tom Tedeschi, President of the Queensboro Council of Social Welfare, welcomed the 40 or so attendees and set the theme for the afternoon by thanking the social service workers for their contribution. “This is really your day for us to thank you for your service,” he said.

Deborah Taylor, who holds an MSW and serves as one of the Deputy Mayor’s senior policy advisers, said that social service workers are critical “when we are very much in a time of economic crisis,” adding that service, integrity, and social justice are the three key facets of social work. “You’re really part of a great tapestry that services the city,” she said.

Queens Borough President Marshall also addressed the award recipients, their families, and other staffers. She said that proposed budget cuts will have a disproportionate effect on the most vulnerable—the old and the young—and denounced the negative impact they will produce.

Pointing to the positive role played by social workers like those at Sakhi, she commented, “You are really very special people who are the glue that holds the city together.”