Ten Island women were honored by Assemblymember Rebecca A. Seawright last week, as part of the Third Annual Women of Distinction Awards, to commemorate Women’s History Month.
Seawright presented awards to 21 women in all in a ceremony held at Marymount Manhattan College.
The honorees, which include members of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, local volunteers, and community activists are: Eva Bosbach, Judy Buck, Mary Coleman, Linda Heimer, Sherie Helstien, Wendy Hersh, Barbara Parker, Joyce Short, Louella Streitz, and Lynne Strong-Shinozaki.
“This year, the celebration is particularly important because 2017 marks 100 years since the Women’s Suffrage movement,” said Seawright’s chief of staff, Katarina Matic.
“We have to stop thinking of history as a closed book, a story with an end, because, as women, our story is not nearly over,” Seawright said. “There are exciting new chapters still to be written.”
Seawright herself is doing some of that writing.
Last week, on International Women’s Day, Seawright introduced the Equal Rights Amendment Resolution in the Assembly, calling on Congress to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment into the Constitution. Seawright is also chair of The Feminist Press, the longest surviving women’s publishing house in the world.
The evening ceremony commenced with performances by two Hunter College students. Nailya Khalizova, a music student, played a piece from Chopin’s Preludes on piano. Her performance was followed by student Sara Tabio, who read an original poem, “Spanglish in America,” inspired by Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Pulitzer prize winning non-fiction book, Between the World and Me.
“Celebrating Women’s History Month is not just about honoring women who came before us; it is about reminding ourselves of the heroines who inspired us by using their courage, their spirit, and their accomplishments as motivation to keep fighting for our rights,” Seawright said.
“Congratulations, Women of Distinction, you are an inspiration for our community, our city, and our great State of New York!”
Dr. Eva Bosbach was born in Prague, Czech Republic, and has lived on the Island with her husband and children since 2007. In 2012, she founded the Roosevelt Island Parents’ Network (RIPN) and, as its coordinator, grew this social network to a community organization of over 600 members. Engaging a large team of volunteers, Bosbach and the RIPN have offered a variety of free activities and events, including educational workshops, panel discussions, events for children and parents, community advocacy efforts, and an online information exchange platform.
From 2012-2016, Bosbach was a Common Council member for Southtown, serving as a member of the Island Services Committee. As a member of the Public Purpose Fund Committee, she made recommendations for the annual distribution of $100,000 to local not-for-profit organizations.
Bosbach is a higher education manager, and an expert on United States-German higher education systems. She holds a master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Cologne in Germany.
Judy Buck moved into an Island House apartment fifteen years ago and has never looked back. She helped create the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC), a watchdog group focused on monitoring Cornell Tech’s construction plans, and advocating for Island interests. RICC pushed for more barging and fewer trucks to transport construction materials, urged Cornell Tech’s adoption of PS 217, and continues to raise issues such as increasing needs for transportation, policing, and security.
In addition to serving as RICC co-chair, Buck sits on Community Board 8’s Roosevelt Island Committee and was appointed by State Senator Jose Serrano to the Cornell Tech Community Construction Task Force Committee. She also volunteers with Roosevelt Island’s Wildlife Freedom Foundation for the rescue of hurt and abandoned animals.
Professionally, Buck was an advertising manager for Random House Trade Division. She also worked as a writer and copy chief for a number of local advertising agencies and spent a decade at New York University as the assistant director of development for the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education. While there, she solicited funding for faculty initiatives that included early reading intervention, research on HIV/AIDS prevention, and recovery for female victims of human trafficking and environmental education. She was a volunteer for Louise Wise Services and has served on boards of the Hell’s Kitchen AIDS Project and the St. Cecilia Chorus of New York.
Mary Coleman has been a resident of Roosevelt Island for over 40 years. Since retiring from AT&T in 2006, she has devoted herself to volunteering. You might find her helping with the Cherry Blossom festival, accompanying someone to the doctor, or stuffing eggs for the RIRA Egg Hunt. Coleman was also involved in starting the Roosevelt Island Women’s Health Organization, in which she holds the position of treasurer. Once a month, the group gets together to discuss women’s medical issues.
Coleman works with the office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and fellow honoree Wendy Hersh to provide fresh vegetables and fruit to seniors.The program runs in the summer for about 24 weeks and distributes an average of 40-50 bags.
Coleman is a member of the Pay It Forward committee through RIRA and, this past holiday season, she helped distribute 80 bags and boxes of food to Island residents. She and other residents have now adopted a dementia ward at Coler Hospital. This past Valentine’s Day, she and the committee delivered 60 Valentine’s bags for the patients.
Coleman’s definition of volunteering is giving one’s time and services to a cause where no monetary payment is involved. She says volunteering is a way of life for her which goes back to her mother. She remembers when she was a child, her mother started a block association in the Bronx, where they lived, and started a tenant patrol in 1958. She also remembers her mother working for the Democratic Party.