The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce has three award winners this year. The awards are for Business Person of the Year, Humanitarian of the Year, and a special tribute award for work in aiding the Iraqi American Community.
This year’s Business Person of the Year award-winner is Victor Saroki. The Business Person of the Year award spotlights individuals who are “good corporate citizens.” They must be a distinguished business community member or organizations who has provided service to the Chaldean community in areas that improve the Chaldean community’s health and wellness, image and representative voice in the United States and/or abroad.
Saroki was nominated by Michael Romayo and Raad Kathawa. In their letter to the Chamber, they noted that, “Mr. Saroki has done the architectural and interior design work for the Shenandoah Country Club, St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church, the Chaldean Community Foundation building, and is currently working with Bishop Emeritus Ibrahim in the design of the Bishop’s Library. Mr. Saroki is a man of his word. He is trust-worthy, hard-working, and client-centered. His dignified presence and speech add credibility to any organization to which he belongs. Mr. Saroki gives the Chaldean Community a positive face to the greater population in Southeast Michigan.”
Victor Saroki, FAIA, is the president of Saroki Architecture, an award-winning architecture and interiors firm in Birmingham, Michigan, since 1983. He was admitted to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in 2000 and with over 30 years in business, the firm has earned more than 60 design awards including the AIA Michigan Firm of the Year in 2007.
A graduate of the College of Architecture & Design at Lawrence Technological University, Saroki received a Bachelor of Science in 1979, a Bachelor of Architecture in 1980, and was conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Architecture in 2008. Focusing on the firm, he oversees all of the diverse work with projects including retail, hospitality, mixed-use, multiple residential, and custom residential.
Extending his expertise to the community, he has served as a past board member with the America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, The Birmingham Community House, and the Birmingham YMCA. Saroki currently serves on the Board of Trustees at LTU and is past president of AIA Michigan and AIA Detroit.
He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Chaldean Community Cultural Center.
Saroki and his wife, Michelle, started the firm together in 1983, and Michelle still plays an active role in marketing the firm. They currently live in Birmingham and have two children: Alex, who is an associate architect at the firm, and Adriana, who attends the University of Michigan.
This year’s Humanitarian of the Year award-winner is St. John’s Providence Health System. The nomination was submitted by Dr. Nahid Elyas and the Chaldean American Association for Health Professionals (CAAHP). The CAAHP’s nomination was seconded by Saif Kasmikha from Midwest Legal Partners, LLC.
The Humanitarian Award spotlights community members or organizations that have also shown exemplary service to the Chaldean community in areas that improve the Chaldean community’s health and wellness, image and representative voice in the United States and/or abroad.
In the letters received, it was noted that, “St. John Providence (SJP) is committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. This philosophy of care underscores their heritage as a faith-based health system offering patients so much more than medicine.”
It was also noted that, “each year St. John Providence provides an estimated $200 million in uncompensated care to our community annually. Through partnerships, coalitions, and program development and support, St. John Providence has created innovative programs to increase access to healthcare services and empower individuals to make informed health choices. The Chaldean community has benefited greatly from programs and efforts of St. John Providence to make our community a healthier and better place.”
To ensure culturally competent care of the Chaldean community, St. John Providence (SJP) provides or sponsors numerous programs and services, within the hospital setting, and in the Chaldean community. This outreach includes the sponsorship of two weekly radio programs that highlight health topics using various Chaldean and other highly quality SJP physicians and clinicians. These shows have been instrumental in increasing the community’s awareness and understanding of practicing preventive health. In recent years, SJP has made available in-patient services to the Chaldean patients and their families that includes, Middle Eastern food options on the menu, Arabic TV channels in patient rooms, Arabic signage throughout Oakland Hospital, and MARTI, which is an electronic mobile translation services for the patients with language limitations.
SJP has hosted an annual cultural diversity day with employees to educate them on the Chaldean culture. As the baby-friendly designated health system, SJMOH established a mom-to-mom support group and breast feeding classes for Chaldean women. This project promotes breastfeeding as an important element in the healthy development of the baby and mother. St. John Macomb Oakland Hospital has established a prenatal and child birth education classes, specifically aimed to pregnant women and mothers in the Chaldean community. SJP has also provided mental health services through Eastwood Clinics, which are geared towards treatment of recent immigrants who may have post and pre-migration challenges.
St. John Providence has worked tirelessly to help the Chaldean community both locally and abroad. They have been the only health system who has donated time, staff, services and money to ensure local projects can be successfully implemented to help the community. They donate $75,000 of lab work yearly to support Project Bismutha, which is a program that provides free medical care to low income and indigent members of the Chaldean community. They have partnered with MERCI (Medical Emergency Relief for Christian Iraqis) in providing medical services and supplies to the displaced Iraqi Christians. They work to promote education for both the Chaldean layperson and Chaldean medical community. St. John Providence has been the major sponsor of the annual Chaldean American Association for Health Professionals (CAAHP) CME conference since its inception. The annual event educates clinicians on innovations in health care, which has a direct correlation with the provision of high quality care. St. John Providence also sponsors community teaching events to help patients communicate with their medical providers, understand their condition, medications and treatment, as well as refer patients to resources within the community. They have also partnered with CAAHP to sponsor an annual health screening program at the local churches to promote preventive care.
The third awardee recognized is Almanhal Al Safi, the Consul General for Iraq in Detroit. He received a special tribute from the Chamber for his work in aiding the Iraqi American Community.