Leadership from the Astoria Welfare Society, an Astoria-based non-profit community organization that distributes food and clothing for those in need across Queens and throughout the city, were awarded by Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, minority leader of the U.S House of Representatives, December 16. At a Tibetan community hall event marking the 9th Anniversary of the Time TV, Astoria Welfare Society President Sohel Ahmed and General Secretary Mohamed Jabed Uddin received the Covid-19 Hero award and congressional recognition from Jeffries, Mayor Eric Adams and Time Television.
The Astoria Welfare Society was founded during the pandemic, providing masks, personal protective gear and groceries to the community to mitigate the challenges of COVID. Since then, they have provided clothing, groceries and halal food for hundreds of families through their programs. They also operate a free community fridge on 30th Street and 36th Avenue in Astoria and is stocked with free groceries for those in need.
“The award was because of our COVID work we did during the pandemic: helping people with masks, sanitizer, food, the community fridge and all the work we did for the people,” Uddin said. “It was hundreds of families we served during Covid-19
The Astoria Welfare Society receiving recognition and support from elected officials has been crucial to their ability to support the community since beginning their work in the pandemic, Uddin said.
“Because of our work, the council members and the assembly members and the community leaders, they see how we are working and everyone started coming out to join with us and support the community,” Uddin said.
While the awards are meaningful, Uddin said he hopes city officials will begin to offer more substantial support to the Astoria Welfare Society beyond recognition and praise. Uddin said the Office of the Queens Borough President Donavan Richards has provided canned food in the past for food drives.
“We are the only organization in Astoria and Long Island City that is still serving the food and everything. We invite the officials to bring their attention so we can show them what the people’s needs are in the community,” Uddin said. “We don’t get that much from the official people, they just come in and give a speech while we give out our free food. My intention was to bring to their attention the program and how many hundreds of people come in line in Astoria that need the food and stuff.”
In the meantime, Uddin said the Astoria Welfare Society will continue to operate as a self-funded operation.
“We’re trying to buy [food] from our own pockets. We put money together as an organization to buy halal food, chicken, rice and oil,” Uddin said. “We are still doing it, giving the people what they need. We get a lot of phone calls given that families are coming every week for food.”
The Astoria Welfare Society already has events planned for the new year and is dedicated to serving the community for a long time to come.