Throughout her life, Sophie Gerson surrounded herself with good, close friends, who also have left us. Many of those friends or their family members helped to create and sustain Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth. We remember and  honor them by awarding stipends in their names of at least $100 to middle school graduates, selected by their respective schools, whose achievements reflect the values and ideals for which Sophie and her friends stood.  We know that they’re all enjoying each other’s company and sending direction to us from their Executive Board Meetings in Heaven. 

Scholarships - Cohen

New York Times: Rabbi Bruce M. Cohen of Interns for Peace, a group that he co-founded, in 1980 in the Arab Israeli village of Tamra. Photographer: Hansi Durlach/Interns for Peace

The Rabbi Bruce Cohen Leadership for Peace Scholarship, Awarded to a student who leads his or her peers to promote, peace, harmony, tolerance and mutual respect.

Rabbi Dr. Bruce M. Cohen founded INTERNS FOR PEACE to pursue his and his life partner, Rebbetzin Karen Wald Cohen’s dream of promoting peace in the Middle East by having Jews and Arabs involved in community projects.  He soon brought this peace-building model to other parts of the world.  For 32 years, until his death in 2012, the Rabbi along with hundreds of community workers from Israel, Gaza, the Sudan, Rwanda and Bosnia worked on community development projects to break stereotypes.   Rabbi Cohen believed it was his destiny to try to live up to his faith’s teaching to “Welcome the stranger into your midst.”  Strangers from any ethnic background became friends after meeting Rabbi Cohen for only a few minutes.


Dudley Gaffin, Esq. Civic Engagement Scholarship, awarded to a student who demonstrates a commitment to involvement in the civic or political affairs of the community.

Scholarships - GaffinDudley Gaffin began his political life at the ripe old age of 16.  Gathering together with other teenagers in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn they formed a group famously known as Brownsville Boys Club which successfully advocated to have a building built as a community center for Jewish, African-American and Italian boys.  He joined the army at 18, was sent overseas as part of the post-war forces in Japan.  He came home and went to law school becoming the first class to graduate out of the newly built NYU Law School in 1953.  He continued to be involved in Democratic politics until his death in 2011.

The Father Louis Gigante Community Improvement Scholarship, awarded to a student who participates in efforts or projects to make the community a better place.

Ordained a priest in May 1959, Father Gigante has served over 45 years at St. Athanasius Church in theScholarships - Gigante Longwood/Hunts Point section of South Bronx.  In 1968, Father Gigante organized the South East Bronx Community Organization (SEBCO) to discuss and plan the reversal of urban blight which had descended upon the Hunts Point area.  This group later developed into the present day SEBCO Development, Inc.  In 1973, Father Gigante was elected to the City Council and served two terms.  Since 1968, he has served as Board Chairman of SEBCO.  To date, under the leadership of Father Gigante, SEBCO has been responsible for development, construction and restoration of over 6,000 multifamily apartments, senior citizen units, condos and private homes.  In addition, SEBCO Development, Inc. operates three homeless shelters and two Senior Citizen Centers.  Father Gigante still lives in the Greenwich Village neighborhood where he was born.

The Dr. Leonard Golubchick Scholar Athlete Scholarship

Awarded to a student who demonstrates achievement or progress in athletics and academics. 
Dr. Leonard Golubchick, a leading NYC Educator with a larger than life personality, was affectionately known to family, friends, and colleagues, as “Lenny” or “Dr. G.,”  He was born on November 19, 1943 to Sol and Goldie Golubchick, and grew up on the Lower East Side. He is survived by the lights of his life, his beloved grandsons, Hudson & Jordan, son, Dr. Jeffrey Golubchick, daughter-in-law Amy Kass, and his true partner in life of 52 years, his beloved bride, Judy Golubchick, as well as his dog Bailey and a plethora of dear friends, and all of us at Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth, which he helped found. 
Throughout his life, Dr. G loved a variety of sports. He played college baseball. A professional farm team drafted him, but an injury cut short his professional baseball career. He remained a lifelong sports fan and advocate for the value of sports to young people. 
After volunteering on a kibbutz in Israel’s early days, Dr. G.  returned to New York to embark on a never-ending career in education. Dr. G. received his Phd in social psychology from NYU and devoted his life career to children of all backgrounds for whom he genuinely cared. He started as a science teacher then served as principal of PS 20 (the Anna Silver School) on his native Lower East Side for 28 years, benefiting generations of children. After retiring,  he served as an Education Policy Director with the office of CM Alan Gerson, and then as Vice-President and Program Director for Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth. He became  a distinguished college professor at Metropolitan College of N.Y., LIU, St. John’s, and St. Thomas Aquinas; in all of these institutions, Dr. G. prepared students for  teaching careers. A staunch unionist, he was a proud CSA member. He loved the theater, eventually becoming a theater critic for Labor Press.
All of us at SGHY who knew and loved Dr. G. will miss his inspiring partnership, sage counsel, great leadership, and outspoken direction as our Vice President and Program Director. He will always be a part of us.
The Zella Jones Technology for Community Betterment Scholarship    
Zella Jones was a fixture in her beloved NoHo and Lower Manhattan communities. She served as a leader, officer, and activist in a variety of community organizations and neighborhood political clubs.  The cross section of the community turned to Zella for advice and counsel on a range of community issues. As a  founding Board of Directors Member of Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth, Zella served as our first and longtime webmaster, in addition to her myriad of other contributions to the children our organization serves.  Zella mastered the technology ahead of her time and generation. She developed and managed creative, effective websites, and related communication, for many community and not-for-profit organizations. She showed all of us how communication technology can build a better community and world.
Zella had two great loves: her family and her community, including SGHY. She is survived by her beloved son Eben, and Grandson she helped raise, Corey, as well as their dog, Brown.


Awarded to  a student  who demonstrates the combination of  good health or fitness habits,  accomplishment in athletics, dance,  science, or language skills, and commitment to building a better community. Sophie Gerson

Click on this link for Sophie Gerson’s biography: 

Sophie Gerson’s commitment to children and dedication to education continues to inspire and inform Sophie Gerson Healthy Youth. Here is another poem written by her students in their yearbook about her:

Mrs. Gerson gave us the foundation upon which

     to become adults and grow.

She tried to expand our interests in

     ways that we were delighted to know.

Because now we can have the confidence 

     to graduate and go

Fulfilled within and facing our future,

     from head to toe. 

Sophie Gerson was all about providing all children with the knowledge, self-confidence and a range of opportunities to live healthy lives and to explore, develop and pursue their dreams. Adults today stay in shape and more than one have pursued careers related to dance because of her encouragement and instruction as a physical education and health teacher for 36 years. Students today  take greater interest in science and math because of her efforts to promote hands-on science. Schools and our City became more tolerant and supportive of all  because of her leadership in support of what was then called the Rainbow Curriculum and her accomplished activism, with her husband Herman,  in community and political affairs. After raising two children, in her spare time, Sophie wrote poetry and loved foreign languages, speaking French and Spanish. We award the Sophie Gerson scholarships to students who evince the ideals she and her live example have promoted.


The Ponsie B. Hillman Educational Excellence Scholarship, awarded to a student who achieves progress in sports or dance and math or science.

Ponsie B. Hillman was a retired mathematics teacher and former Assistant Treasurer of the United Federation of Teachers, UFT.  She was a lifetime mScholarships - Hillmanember of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., and the NAACP. In 1964, Ponsie received a Teacher of the Year award for working in the American Federation of Teachers- Freedom Schools, educating African-American children who were denied access to schools during desegregation efforts.

During her tenure at the UFT she served on the Executive Board, organized the AfroAmerican Heritage Committee, initiated the Asian-American Committee after an educational trip to Taiwan, and setup the UFT summer camp program. Ponsie also served as a NYSUT Board Election District Director. In 2006, at the AFT convention, Ponsie was honored as an “everyday hero” for her work in opening the first AFT Freedom School in Prince Edward County, Virginia.  After her death, Ponsie was chosen as one of fifty people that helped further unionism at the UFT. Her name has been placed on the wall of their new building at 52 Broadway in Manhattan. In further recognition of her civil rights work, in 2014, Congressman Fattah from Philadelphia, PA paid tribute to Mrs. Hillman in the Congressional Record-extension of remarks. In Ponsie’s last request she asked for scholarships to be given to students in sports, arts and dance education.


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