A rainbow of diversity filled the room on Sunday night, December 11th as hundreds of guests dressed in colorful and festive attire gathered to celebrate a decade of building bridges between their communities at the Unity in Action 10th Anniversary Gala held at The Bridge Multicultural and Advocacy Project (Bridge MCP) located at 1894 Flatbush Avenue.
“Tonight, we celebrate unity, as one people — look around you at this beautiful group and what do you see?” Bridge MCP Executive Director Mark Meyer Appel asked. “Jewish people, Christian people, Muslim people, gay people – that’s what we’re about and that’s what we started 10 years ago, and thank God, it’s been resonating in this community and around the City of New York as a place, regardless of faith, regardless of religion, regardless of their race, regardless of their sexual orientation, they’re welcome here at The Bridge.”
Appel mentioned the round-the-clock operation at the Bridge MCP working with over 25 national organizations and over two dozen community and faith-based partners and supporters over the last decade or more, recognizing many of them in the room. “Together, only together, working with the Mayor’s Office, can we fight hate like we need to fight it,” Appel said, mentioning the many advocacy projects they have done over the years.
Among those honored were Chaplain Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin, Chief Advisor to the Mayor; Hassan Naveed, Executive Director, Office for the Prevention of Hate Crimes; Pastor Gil Monrose, NYC Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships; and Joel Eisdorfer, Senior Advisor to the Mayor.
Special recognition was also given to chairman of the gala and Bridge MCP President Eugene Burshtein; Councilwomen Rita Joseph and Farah Louis; Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn; Assemblyman-Elect Lester Chang; Commissioner Fred Kreizman, NYC Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit; Atia Shahnaz, Muslim Liaison to the Mayor’s Office; Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik; corporate sponsor IHL Group and many others.
Bichotte Hermelyn presented a NYS Assembly Proclamation to Appel honoring his organization for 10 years of advocacy and cultivating grassroots community projects and collaborative events.
Everyone had a wonderful time in the true spirit of “unity” as they enjoyed a full program of entertainment, prayers, music, food, dance and each other’s company throughout the evening.
A highlight of the evening was when Councilwoman Louis introduced special guest Ndaba Mandela, grandson of Nelson Mandela, and chairman of the Mandela Institute for the Humanities and Africa Rising Foundation; he was honored for his leadership by Mayor Eric Adams two days before the event.
“We say, in Africa, if you want to go fast, you go alone, but if you want to go far, you go together,” Mandela said as he spoke about the importance of family and unity. “When we work together, there is nothing that we cannot accomplish, across racial lines, across religion lines, across all lines.”