Her name is Grisel, her daughter’s name is Grisel, and her two granddaughters’ middle names are Grisel. A third granddaughter, as yet unborn, is also expected to share the name.
In this family, the name “Grisel” implies strength.
Grisel Amador drew on her strength as a single mom, born in Puerto Rico speaking only Spanish, to raise three children and a niece by herself, learn to speak English, and earn a bachelor’s degree in Science of Human Services from Brooklyn’s Boricua College.
At that point, her professional journey was just beginning. In 1988, she joined the United Senior Center of Sunset Park as a bilingual caseworker. Ten years later, she was named executive director, a position she holds to this day.
In that role, she’s involved in “everything” that affects the lives of the senior citizens who use the facility. Amador oversees the daily planned activities for those who come to the center, making sure they receive breakfast, lunch, and other services. She’s also in charge of the Community Emergency Response Team, ensuring the facility is open even during snowstorms, so that its elderly patrons have two solid meals and a warm place to spend the day. The center is already staffed with translators, but Amador wants to do more: she plans to learn Chinese to better communicate with the growing numbers of Chinese-speaking seniors who come there.
Asked why she keeps striving to go that extra mile for the senior center’s patrons, she answers simply, “I like to help people.”
When the center needed a new elevator to transport seniors to the third floor location, Amador encouraged the elderly clientele to show up in large numbers, every day, to support it. The daily turnout “touched me and touched everyone,” she says. “Community Board 7 and our local politicians helped us get the new elevator.”
This Woman of Distinction’s enduring desire to be of service to others extends outside the walls of the senior center; she’s a member of Community Board 7, has received numerous certificates for her work in the Sunset Park community, and was the proud recipient of a Humanitarian Award from former Kings County District Attorney Charles J. Hynes.
Most of all, she is proud of her three children. Her daughter, Grisel, is a social worker, her middle son, Justin, served in the Navy, earning his bachelor’s degree there, and her younger son, Malek, works in the hotel industry in Florida.
Amador has made “giving back” a family affair. They have all worked at Maimonides Medical Center at some point in their lives — she and her sons as volunteers, her daughter in the hospital’s administrative office.
Amador’s colleague, Xiomara Martinez, a colleague of Amador’s at the senior center, who nominated her for this award, said: “My co-workers and I are very proud to work with such a wonderful, caring person.”
Neighborhood: Sunset Park.
Occupation: Executive director.
Company: United Senior Center of Sunset Park.
Claim to Fame: Treating people with respect and dignity.
Favorite Brooklyn Place: United Senior Center of Sunset Park. Also: My apartment, a private place to rest and think about the future.
Woman I admire: My daughter, Grisel, a social worker, and single mom who finished her Master’s degree, and self-published a book that helps seniors learn about benefits which may be available to them.
Motto: Work hard to get what you want.
©2017 Community News Group