Heroes Among Us 2023

(HSVS Deputy Executive Director Brooke Rosenthal Kicks of the 2023 Ceremony)

On September 21st, 2023, at the Brooklyn Law School Forchelli Hall, members of the Heartshare St. Vincent’s family came to honor their own at the 2023 “Heroes Among Us” Celebration. Started in 2019 by now-CEO Dawn Saffeyah, the “Heroes Among Us” event was designed to shine a light and honor HSVS staff who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Nominated by their peers, each hero has showcased true dedication to their field, their clients, and their fellow HSVS staff.

Tyler Bullock II opened up the afternoon’s festivities with a live performance, followed by welcoming remarks from Ms. Saffayeh. HSVS Deputy Executive Director & Chief Program Officer Brooke Rosenthal took over as the day’s MC and kicked things off with the first award recipient.

Throughout the event, nominators approached the podium, sharing anecdotes and praise for each of the honorees. The afternoon was filled with lots of laughs, some tears of gratitude, and even a few dance moves- Honorees got to pick their walk-up music. See below for a playlist of all the songs– but one thing is for certain the HSVS community is made up of extraordinary individuals and they are all heroes.


Meet This Year’s 2023 Heroes


Julia Parke (Clinical Coordinator- Family Treatment & Rehabilitation Program)

“Julia is a breath of fresh air in an extremely challenging field. Julia is a strong advocate for families in the FTR program as well as the FTR staff. Julia is just as concerned about the well-being of the team as she is about the well-being of the families. She always checks in to make sure we are ok and can sense when something is off. She lends support when it’s needed and knows when to give space and grace.”

Patricia Vanderlinde (CASAC- Family Treatment & Rehabilitation Program)

“It’s an honor to watch clients open up and come alive through their individual sessions with Patricia. One young person in particular really stands out to me. This young person wouldn’t say anything to anyone, no matter how long. But When I last saw them, they were laughing, joking, and smiling and I overheard them asking Patricia when they had the opportunity to come back and see her. This is what Patricia does. And she does so with humility.”

Eric Williams (Senior Program Director – Youth Residential Programs)

“Eric uses his talent and life experience to bring healing hope and humor to staff, youth, and others in the community. Thank you for your authentic hustle.”

Oluyemi Akinnibosun (Program Supervisor -Supportive Housing Journey Singles Program)

“He is not that supervisor who sits behind the desk. He is out there. He’s driving you to college. He’s helping you put your apartment together. He’s going to every court date. He just does it all.”

Julia El-Amin (Care Manager- Adult Health Home)

“Julia goes above and beyond to service our clients. When Julia is given an assignment, she never questions it. She doesn’t ask why. She doesn’t ask how unless she needs to know how she needs to do it… Julia is always patient and never raises her voice. She speaks to our clients with compassion and empathy. She is so patient in helping her clients who are in need. She is always diligent in assessing the needs of the client.”

Colleen Jones (Director of Children & Adult – Health Homes Program)

“I think there are two words that I can use to describe Colleen. She’s an advocate, and she’s a leader. I know that she is committed to the clients. She is always advocating. You just count on Colleen when there was an issue that she would come to me and say, hey, Jude, if you have to fix this.”

Samuelle Bruny (Care Manager- Adult Health Home)

“She works so diligently with each and every client. They call, and they all have great things to say about her. I challenge her every day. I’m so honored because she’s, our hero. The highest hero. She’s a hero within our whole family.”

Sandra Bell-Bernard (Care Coordination Supervisor – Care Coordination)

“My supervisor, your supervisor, our supervisor is my hero. Sandra is an amazing supervisor. She treats everyone equally, without discrimination. She is always there to help every one of us. Always hardworking, punctual, and dedicated to our work. We are blessed to have her.”

Robert Grant (Associate Clinic Director- Mental Health OutPatient)

“You may not. Fly over there, but you have all the qualities of a hero, a hero as a professional, supervisor, and mentor. One example that stands out was during the evening when we were working at a preventive program and there was a shooting. The community and the staff were shocked. This was not the first time for that experience but this one was especially impactful because it involved a teenager. Robert, you checked in with us, and you decided to go to the community. To the building where the shooting happened and offer support to anybody who needed it. You said it was about being there, holding the space, and letting people know that there was someone who cared. I was scared, but Robert was not. You are a hero.”

Jeffrey Cowitt (Associate Director- Youth Development)

“Overall, when I think about a hero. I think about Jeff. Jeff is the epitome of our work, dedication, and a true servant leader who works diligently to provide quality services to our youth and our families.”

Angela Ofosu (Senior Child Advocate- Positive Care Services)

“Those of us who have had the privilege of working with Angela know her as softspoken, easygoing, pleasant, hardworking, with a great sense of humor. Today, Angela is one who is truly deserving of a “Heroes Among Us” honoree because of her years of service, dedication, and uncompromising commitment to our children.”

Samantha Charles  (Supervisor- Queen Foster Boarding Home)

“Samantha Charles is a treasure trove of information garnered from her 12 years working with the administration of Children Services…Currently, Miss Charles’s unit is down one worker, and instead of reassigning the cases to her workers who are already over capacity, Miss Charles has chosen to carry a caseload. Miss Charles has also been a source of assistance to case planners not assigned to her but who might need guidance with a case if their immediate supervisor was not in the office at that time, or if another perspective was needed. Miss Charles is always very supportive of her staff.”

Joyce Fulton (Sr. Executive Assistant & Training Coordinator- Foster Care)

“I personally felt it was important to recognize this person, who, for me, is a foundational pillar of our organization. She has been with us for 27. Everyone deserves a Joy, and I will say thank you very much for being my Joy.”