Community salutes Sandra Chapman on retirement

Sandra Chapman (third from left) receives Congressional Proclamation from Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke (left) flanked by Clarke’s mother, Dr. Una S.T. Clarke, and Chapman’s husband, Clyde.
Photo by Nelson A. King

Brooklyn Borough Hall was packed to capacity Friday evening as the Brooklyn community celebrated the retirement of former Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Sandra Chapman after 35 years of city service.

The Guyanese-born Chapman – who served under three Brooklyn Borough Presidents – Howard Golden, Marty Markowitz and Eric Adams, in that order – was Deputy Brooklyn Borough President under Markowitz and Program Officer under Adams.

An almost Who’s Who in Brooklyn politics, as well as prominent community figures and organizations, and Chapman’s family, were on hand for the gala salute, showering praise after praise on Chapman.

“We really appreciate you,” said Adams in a video presentation in which Borough Hall employees lauded Chapman for her strong work ethic, and infectious and caring personality.

“You’re really a steady hand,” added Adams, who collaborated with Golden and Markowitz in giving Chapman a Brooklyn Borough Hall Proclamation. “It’s a better city, a better borough (because of Chapman’s efforts).”

One former co-worker described Chapman, who migrated to Brooklyn from Guyana at 16, after graduating from high school, as “the epitome of style and grace.”

Incumbent Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Ingrid P. Lewis-Martin, who served as Mistress of Ceremonies, said: “Anyone who knows Sandra (Chapman) knows she’s an amazing person.”

Former New York City Councilmember Dr. Una S.T. Clarke said: “We all grew up with Sandra at St. Gabriel’s (Episcopal Church on Hawthorne Street in Brooklyn.).

“We’re grateful for such graceful public servant,” added Clarke’s daughter, Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, before giving Chapman a Congressional Citation.

Dr. Roy Hastick, the Grenadian-born founder and president of the Brooklyn-based Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CACCI), said he was introduced to Chapman by Golden.

“What is amazing to see the continuity of democracy in action and [that] someone of Caribbean descent was respected throughout the borough,” he said, telling Chapman that she was not retiring but “transitioning into a new life.

“While you start your business, we’ll like to have you back,” Hastick added.

Lawyer Carlo A. Scissura, a former chief-of-staff at Brooklyn Borough Hall, said that Chapman is “a community person, a church person.

“Sandra was by my side,” said the president and chief executive officer of New York Building Congress. “Sandra, we’ll miss you.”

Frank Seddio, Kings County Democratic Party boss, said Chapman was his “homie.”

“She’s a Canarsie (Brooklyn) girl,” he said. “She’s unique. She never has an ego in what she does.

“What you brought here was the wind beneath the wings,” Seddio added. “New York’s loss, Canarsie’s loss will be South Carolina’s gain.”

Markowitz, who was elected Brooklyn Borough President in 2001, said Chapman “took care of so much here.

“You’ve made your family proud,” he told Chapman. “You make Brooklyn proud.”

Karen Dewar, Chapman’s childhood friend in Guyana, who flew from Florida for the celebration, said they stayed in touch throughout the years.

“Thank you for being a friend and your willingness to always lend a hand,” she said.

Chapman’s daughter, Cherylle, said her mom “really deserved this.”

“You worry about work, but now you’re free.”

Assemblywoman Guyanese Roxanne Persaud and Assemblyman Jamaican Nick Perry personally presented Chapman with proclamations.

Representatives for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Assemblyman Walter Mosely and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, among others, also presented proclamations and citations to Chapman.

In addition, among others, the Brooklyn-based Guyana Cultural Association, the Guyana Tri-State Alliance and the Caribbean American Heritage Committee presented Chapman with tokens of appreciation.

Chapman, who returned to Guyana last year for the very first time since migrating, praised her mom for sacrificing “her home for me to be who I am.”

“I have so many stories,” she said. “I never thought I’ll be standing here. I wouldn’t have done it without you.

“A lot of you are doing so much with so little, and I thank you for it,” she added. “I had the privilege of working with a lot of women in my life – Una Clarke.”

Earlier, during the reception, Trinidadian Lima Calbio, a former lead singer with the Jamaican band Byron Lee and the Dragonaires, and Trinidadian pannist and singer Ricardo Jerome entertained patrons as they dined on Caribbean delicacies

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