Organize Social Workers and Related Health Services professionals to strengthen, develop and improve the resources and services available to best meet the needs of the communities we serve.
Legacy - Promise - Leadership
It is with PROFOUND SADNESS that we announce the passing of one of our founding and longest serving members,
Sonia Palacio Grottola on December 7, 2021.
A Message From the President of NAPRHSW
No words could ever express how I feel over the loss of my friend and colleague, Sonia. She represented not only the profession but the Puerto Rican professionals who established the National Association of Puerto Rican Social Workers. The heart and soul that showed us by and lead us by example. I know in my heart that she is home with the Lord. Sonia, my friend and colleague, may you Rest in Peace.
La Familia de Círculo de la Hispanidad
A todos los que queremos a nuestra siempre amiga Sonia:
Sonia representa una etapa histórica de lucha y trabajo por los derechos de nuestra Comunidad Hispana, especialmente en Suffolk County. Luchadora Puertorriqueña que junto con otros Puertorriqueños e hispanos luchamos en contra de la propuesta de ley RACISTA de ENGLISH ONLY de la legislatura del gobierno de Suffolk County hace muchos años.Esta fue una de otras luchas que llevó a cabo Sonia para defender los derechos de nuestra Comunidad Hispana.
Sonia representa además su compromiso y liderazgo al fundar la organización de Trabajadores Sociales en Long Island para la que dedicó gran parte de su vida como voluntaria permanente, recaudando fondos para becas a estudiantes hispanos en el campo de trabajo social.Fue su motor que nunca se apagó a pesar de la dificultades. Nunca nos olvidaremos de las excursiones en barco durante el verano para recaudar fondos y de cenas- baile con el mismo fin. Recuerdos inolvidables.
En estas fiestas de recaudación de fondos u otras su amor por la música y el baile se hacían realidad en la pista de baile.Amigos como yo hemos tenido el placer y honor de bailar con Sonia, una buena bailarina,y siempre incansable sin importar su edad, y siempre me llamó la atención su SIEMPRE SONRISA Y AMABILIDAD.
Sus valores fueron inspiración para mí y para todos los que la conocieron. La tengo y tendré un GRAN CARIÑO siempre. Además, un gran agradecimiento profundo en mi nombre y en el toda la COMUNIDAD HISPANA de Long Island que se tradujo en ser seleccionada como homenajeada en la GALA ANUAL de Círculo en el año 2008.
Tuve la gran suerte de hablar con Sonia y su hija el Sábado 23 de Octubre pasado. Asistieron al Concierto de Flamenco que organizamos en el Centro Comunitario de Círculo y, como siempre , después del concierto se quedó para disfrutar de las TAPAS y vino. Hablé con Sonia y su hija en su mesa y como siempre tenía una gran sonrisa y me dijo que la gustó mucho el concierto, las tapas y el vino. ¡¡¡ LA VI MUY FELIZ!!!
Quiero quedarme con esta imagen en el medio de la tristeza de su marcha física de este mundo.
También, quiero que este texto sirva como un recuerdo especial y lleno de afecto profundo, respeto y admiración a UNA GRAN MUJER HISPANA que cambió la vida de miles de jóvenes y familias de nuestra comunidad. Una líder ejemplar que nunca dejó de luchar por sus sueños dejándonos un LEGADO que debe ser inmortalizado por escrito o por otro medio cualquiera para que otras generaciones aprendan y sigan su ejemplo de vida.
Me pongo a disposición de su familia, amigos y colegas para llevar a cabo un HOMENAJE A SONIA Y SU LEGADO. Nuestro Centro Comunitario y nuestros recursos humanos apoyarán tal homenaje si se se decide llevarlo a cabo por parte de la familia y amigos. Sería,sin duda,un homenaje comunitario merecido.
Sonia, DESCANSA EN PAZ.
Eternamente en nuestro corazón.
It is with a heavy heart that I bid farewell to my dear friend Sonia Palacio-Grottola who has passed on. Sonia was a dear friend with whom I traveled, defended the rights of Latinas and supported many causes in the community. A founder of the National Association of Puerto Rican and Hispanic Social Workers and alumni of SBU and a consummate advocate of children. She was fun, enjoyed salsa dancing and was down for enjoying life at every turn. Joe and I will miss the Anniversary and Birthday cards she sent religiously. She was a champion of the people and maintained the four principles associated and essential of social justice goals - human rights, access, participation and equity! I will miss her dearly and particularly our time together sharing meals, adventures and laughs! Rest In Peace my friend!
My wife Irma & I met Sonia on March 25, 1990. I was on the Board of the Hempstead Hispanic Civic Association then under the leadership of Rafael Picon.
We went by chartered bus from Hempstead to Albany to attend the Somos Uno Conference. Pauline Velasquez was there too.
It was a remarkable experience and I became very fond of Sonia, Pauline, and Ruth and for many years was actively involved on the Board.
There are so many wonderful memories, so many events, galas, boat rides, fundraisers, and Christmas celebrations at Sonia’s home. I’ll be spending many more hours culling through thousands of photos taken over the years.
Sonia was all at once a lovely person, a sweetheart and a trailblazer.
I will miss you dear Sonia, but you will remain in my heart along now with Pauline and Ruth.
Dedicated to Sonia, you are gone, yet you are not, you no longer hurt, your heart is healed and you feel a joy that will last forever.
Sonia was an inspirational human being with a heart of gold. Her loving nature brought out the best in people, always with a smile and the compassion to make things better. Sonia will be remembered always with a smile and a dance, she loved to dance. Now she is dancing with the Angels!
Sonia was an amazing social worker and human being. Really, she was an ever-present icon who did so very much in so many ways. Her spirit lives on in all whom she touched, mentored, supported and taught. Thank you, Sonia.
Our Sonia! The heart and soul of the association for so many years. My mentor!Heaven won another angel. RIP💔
Deeply saddened to hear. What a wonderful life lived.
Cindy Reide Combs
A tremendous loss for us all, and what an exemplary life of service well lived.
Sonia was a tremendous supporter. She always managed to say the right thing at the right time, reaching out to you at your lowest to offer sound advice, and making linkages that would benefit the community.
She was an angel on earth, and may our creator praise her and welcome her. 🙏 Until we meet again, see you soon Sonia. Gracias por todo! Nos vemos pronto.
I am so sorry to hear that our beloved Sonia is no longer with us. She will always be in our hearts and her smile. May she rest in peace.
May she rest in peace and I look forward to seeing her again after the resurrection . She was a role model for me and assisted me in getting my Social Work position at Sagamore Childrens Psychiatric Center. I will miss her presence.
Abraham Valentin, Jr.
We are so very sad to hear this news.
Sonia is beloved by all. She has touched so many lives and we hold her in our hearts.
Much love and peace.
Thank you, Sonia for your incredible leadership, compassion, and strength to luchar for the dignity of underserved populations.
We will always remember you.
A Tribute to My Friend & Colleague
by Vilma Matos
If Newsday were to write a story about Sonia, the front-page headline would read:
“SONIA PALACIO GROTTOLA
A LATINA ICON LEAVES A LEGACY OF ADVOCATING FOR THE LATINO
AND UNDERSERVED COMMUNITIES
OF LONG ISLAND, PASSESS AT THE YOUNG AGE OF 87”
Sonia was a legend in her own time. She was a cheerful, energetic, good-natured, humorous person who always, and I MEAN ALWAYS, was looking for something to do or a place to go. Whenever, I called her, the first thing she would say, “Where are we going now? It didn’t matter as long as she was out having fun either at the beach (she loved the water), eating dinner and dancing with friends, going to the movies or Broadway shows, golfing, going to conferences around the country and of course, one of her favorite pastimes was traveling. She traveled the world from Galapagos Islands, Machu Picchu, to Israel, Egypt, China, etc. Her last trip was to South Africa where she went on a Safari and came back sharing a story of how an elephant began chasing the jeep they were in and she was laughing about it, mindless that she could have been killed. She always saw the positive in everything. A few months ago, she told me that the worse part about aging was having to give up her independence, her traveling and believe it or not, losing her sense of smell. She missed the smell of morning coffee. I kid you not when I tell you she drank gallons of coffee a day. She looooved her coffee, not to mention her red wine.
But on a more serious note, what many may not know about Sonia is that she was an extremely resilient woman, overcoming many personal obstacles from living in an orphanage for a few years as a young child, to being a young widow and raising her 2 children, Sabrina and Paul as a single parent. Years later, she married again to her dear, Jim but the cards were not in her favor, as she became a widow once again. Sonia shared with many how she survived a small plane crash in Central America and underwent hypnosis so she can overcome her fear of flying. Sonia with her strength and strong faith kept going and appreciating life along the way.
Her family was her pride and joy and she always enjoyed taking her grandchildren on outings. She attended college as a middle-aged woman receiving her MSW from Stony Brook University. She was a passionate social worker changing lives for the better no matter where she went or what she did.
In 1983, she was a founding member of the National Association of Puerto Rican Hispanic Social Workers and worked tirelessly since then to keep the association functioning and impactful. She served in every position of the board and was still working for the association up until the week before she died as we were talking about job ads that were being posted on the website. But her more profound legacy was her fight against the “English Only Bill” in Suffolk County and with her leadership the bill was defeated in the Suffolk County Legislature. Throughout her career she received many Lifetime Achievement Awards, too many to mention.
I could go on and on about this amazing woman, mother, friend, social worker, colleague, advocate, mentor but I want to close with a few statements that were made to me by friends after finding out that she had passed. Statements such as:
“Sonia was a champion of Latino justice on Long Island.”
“Sonia was a force to be reckoned, a powerful voice and advocate for the Hispanic Community.”
“We lost a great soul.”
“Our hearts are broken.”
“She was one in a million.”
“Wow, how she liked to dance.”
“A GREAT HISPANIC WOMAN who changed the lives of thousands of young people and families in our community.”
“She was a mentor to so many.”
“Sonia was the heart and soul of the association.”
And last but not least, I think we can all agree, “What a wonderful life lived.”
Sonia, you will be sorely missed but will continue to live in the hearts and minds of your family, friends, all those who had the pleasure of meeting you and those whose lives you positively affected during your lifetime.
May you rest in peace in the arms of your Lord. Until we meet again.
Your loving and devoted friend,
THE 36th ANNIVERSARY AWARDS GALA
Left to Right: Legislator Samuel Gonzalez, Lois Logan, Chair, Scholarship Committee,Pilar Delgado, HONOREE, Maria Elena Girone, Board Member, Sonia Palacio-Grottola, HONOREE, Gladys Serrano, HONOREE, Rose, Assemblyman Phil Ramos' Office, Dilcia Granville, Gala Chair,
and Louis Medina, NAPRHSW, President.
Photography by: Walter Sanchez
THE 2019 SCHOLARSHIP AWARDEES
Left to Right: Grace Gomez, Adelphi University, Lorenz Zavala, School of Social Work at Columbia University, Millerlandy Acevedo, School of Social Work at Stony Brook University, Bidania Criscuolo, School of Social Work at Stony Brook University, Mayra DePena, School of Social Work at Stony Brook University. Missing from photo Enmanuel Garcia, Fordham University.
Thank you for your support!
Sonia Palacio-Grottola, LCSW
Serving our Community for Over 30 Years
Together with our Members and Community Leaders Sonia Palacio-Grottola labored to defeat the "English Only" measure in New York ensuring that everyone has a right to access services in their native language whenever possible.
Lois Logan, LCSW
Chair - Scholarship Committee
Awarded over $120,000 in scholarship funds.
Our membership has raised and awarded over $120k in scholarship funds to MSW students. Together our membership has worked with community leaders to ensure the next generation of social workers has every opportunity to succeed. Want to learn more about our scholarship programs and how to apply, click here.