By Naeisha Rose
The Haitian Society, a group that celebrates the contributions of the more than 400 officers within the Department of Corrections, held its inaugural gala last week at the Royal Chateau Hall in Rosedale.
One of the keynote speakers at the Jan. 18 event was Brooklyn state Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte. Her district includes Flatbush, East Flatbush, East Midwood and Ditmas Park and she is the chairwoman for the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.
“I am excited tonight,” said Bichotte. “Haitians are all over the world.”
After greeting the crowd she read a citation to the Haitian Society, which officially formed in December 2018.
“The Haitian Society is a new fraternal organization dedicated to enhancing public safety and creating a supportive space for the correction officers who selflessly serve the community,” said Bichotte. “The NYC’s Haitian Society comprises of honorable men and women of Haitian descent who transform the lives of inmates in their care by providing them the tools and the opportunities to successfully re-enter communities.”
One of the founding members of the group was its President Sardou Augustin, a 10-year veteran of the city’s Department of Corrections, who helped to brainstorm the Haitian Society in October 2018.
“I love enforcement and being able to teach is what I strive for,” said Augustin. “Being able to teach staff and help with policy and procedure is what I strive for.”
Peggy Joseph-Saxton, the treasurer of the Haitian Society was also at the gala.
“I’m from Long Island and my family hosted our first Haitian Society meeting,” said Joseph-Saxton. “My parents cooked a lavish meal for us and we were there for 3 1/2 hours.”
After a fellow officer was assaulted on Rikers Island, Joseph-Saxton and Augustin, and other members of the Haitian Society started talks about forming their own fraternal society on WhatsApp, the group chat blew up immediately.
“In the chat, we had 270 people within the first day,” said Joseph-Saxton. “This was definitely a movement.”
The excitement for the gala was at a fever pitch and tickets for the event sold so quickly that the Haitian Society had to rent a second space at the Royal Chateau Hall to accommodate the over 400 members who came dressed to the nines in their best suits and bright and colorful dresses.
As kompa music played in the background by the System Band and a disc jockey played music in another hall, guests were also treated to a private photo booth and a raffle for a 55-inch television.
“Often times people don’t know what happens after a crime,” said the Chikera Beckford, a former DOC officer and the mistress ceremonies. “I love sharing how officers are protecting the city.”