NEW YORK (TIP): The South Asian American Political Action Committee (SAPAC) organized its First Annual Breakfast at Garden City’s Mint Restaurant & Lounge, February 2.

Despite the fact the breakfast took place on a cold and foggy Sunday morning, the turn out of the event was astounding. South Asians are known to be reluctant to go out early on a Sunday morning. But, it came as a pleasant surprise that more than the expected number of people arrived, compelling many to be satisfied with the standing space.

Over 200 members of the community and officials gathered to savor the taste of a special breakfast and listen to the SAPAC Chairman Zahid Syed and invited officials, numbering 12, to be exact.

The officials present included Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth, New York State Senator Jack Martins, New York State Assemblyman Phil Ramos, New York State Assemblyman David McDonough, New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine, New York State Assemblyman Thomas McKevitt, and Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams, Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello, Nassau County legislator David Denenberg, Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy, and Hempstead Mayor Wayne Hall Sr.

5SAPAC Chairman Zahid Syed called upon the brown community to involve in America’s politics, assert themselves and make their presence felt.
Along with the numerous elected officials, stood various community and civic organization leaders, representing Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan. And who could forget the appearance made by the large no of Latino and African American community. In his welcome address, Zahid Syed, the chairman of SAPAC said, “Three years ago, we started this organization.

I worked with labor union. My vision was to bring together South Asians on a model of Latinos and Afro American communities. So, in 2011, I decided to do something for the South Asian Community. In 3 years, we have grown into a strong and vibrant organization, with more 500 members and growing. We have many life time members.

I am happy to announce that some officials are SAPAC members too. And I invite all officials present here and those who are not, to join SAPAC and express their support for the South Asian Community.” Zahid stated that the South Asian community in New York is “increasing rapidly” and its legitimate concerns should be taken note of. He said South Asian kids in schools have a problem which needs to be solved.

6Judi Bosworth, David Denenberg, Robert Kennedy with Satnam Parhar, Zahid Syed, Rizwan Qureshi, Dilip Chauhan, Ajay Batra and other community leaders
Diwali and Eid are important events for the community and, as such, kids should be free to celebrate the days with the family rather than be under compulsion to go to school. He was lustily applauded when he appealed to the officials to have the two days declared as school holidays all over in New York State like New York City. The agenda of the morning was set by New York State Assemblyman Phil Ramos who, in his impassioned speech, said, “You, South Asian community, have the power to make a change”.

7SAPAC Volunteers who made all comfortable with SAPAC Chairman Zahid Syed. (From L to R): Sara Pervez, Shariq Hussain, Zahid Syed, Khalid Hussain, Parvinder Kaur, Jasmine Chandi

Complimenting Zahid Syed and his team for creating a great organization of the South Asians, Ramos called upon the gathering to give a round of applause to Zahid, “who has put your community on the map”. Visibly delighted Ramos said, “I see here a rainbow of people whom you have brought together. We have the power. Only we do not realize we have it. Only when a group realizes they have the power that they can change.”

Ramos gave the example of great men like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Jesus Christ who, he said, had no material possessions and yet they could change the lives of people, the destiny of people and the course of history. The program got off to a start with the pledge led by Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, who was the also the speaker of the morning. He acknowledged the strength of the South Asian community when he said, “You have a voice in power politics here”.

Maragos then spoke of the marvelous economic recovery of the County. In the last four years, Nassau County has recovered”. He said no new taxes were imposed. He also spoke of infrastructure development, job creation and accelerated economic activity in Nassau County. The Supervisor of Town of North Hempstead Judi Bosworth acknowledge the acumen of the community when she said, “there are many leaders right here in this room. They can as well be part of local governance”.

She said, “I look forward to developing and furthering our relationship”. New York State Senator Jack Martins said there was a better awareness of the South Asian community amongst the officials and the government, “thanks to the efforts of Zahid Syed”. “We will continue the dialogue and work together”.

10The gathering
Nassau County Legislator Kevan Abrahams gave the mantra for making a mark in America: “Work hard. Play by the rule”. He made a passionate plea to work together and ensure no one is left behind. Others who spoke on the occasion included Nassau County Legislator Richard Nicolello, Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy and New York State Assemblyman Charles Lavine. Special thanks went out to Ajay Batra and Sharanjt Thind for all their efforts in taking care of the strong media presence.

SAPAC Volunteers and supporters who made all arrangements to ensure that all guests were comfortable were also recognized by the SAPAC Chairman Zahid Syed. They included Sara Pervez, Shariq Hussain, Khalid Hussain, Parvinder Kaur and Jasmine Chandi. Dr. Anila Midha who emceed the program, was at her best. Earlier in the program, Kawaljit Chandi welcomed the gathering and Dr. Kamal Zafar gave the closing remarks. Sara Pervez requested guests to join the SAPAC team by filling out an application form that was conveniently available at the reception table.