On Monday, September 20, 2021, the Queens Chamber of Commerce Foundation held its annual charity golf outing at Garden City Country Club, attend by over 250 business leaders representing a cross section of the over 1,300 companies and 125,000 Queens-based employees that belong to the Chamber, making Queens a great place to live, work, run a business.
The event benefitted the Chamber Foundation’s efforts to local provide students with scholarships and uplift struggling communities in Queens, NY.
The honorees included Zara Realty founders Jay Sobhraj, Ken Subraj, and the late George Subraj, who were acknowledged and honored for providing quality housing throughout the borough, plus a long list of philanthropic endeavors the family leads. Additional honorees included George Xu, founder and CEO of Century Development Group and Maria Odysseos, VP/Retail District Manager of Investors Bank.
Brothers Jay Sobhraj, Ken Subraj, and the late George Subraj, who immigrated to New York from Guyana, are the founders of Zara Realty, which has grown from operating one building with 44 units to 60 complexes with 5,000 units located throughout Queens and Nassau County.
The family’s various charitable endeavors were born out of Zara’s success, which has fulfilled their mission to be a force for good, improving the lives of thousands of families.
President of the Queens Chamber of Commerce Tom Grech said, “For decades, the Sobhraj Family have left an indelible mark on the borough of Queens. They not only invest in quality housing that is clean, safe, comfortable, and affordable, but also in the totality of human life for the greater good. The Queens Chamber of Commerce is proud to honor Zara and the Sobhraj family for their compassion and dedication to the betterment of our community.”
Over the course of the last 15 years, the various Zara related family foundations have established and equipped 13 state-of-the-art computer centers in local schools and community centers across Queens and Nassau County, as well as in the brothers’ native country of Guyana. The foundation also built four libraries in Guyana and has partnered with various organizations to provide free computer training to more than 15,000 students, many throughout downstate New York and created an educational tutoring and training program for the specialized high school admission test (SHSAT) and college SAT, resulting in more than $2 million in scholarships for New York students.
Besides education, the Subraj Family Foundation’s passion for is medicine and medical care, having made lifesaving contributions to benefit patients in the South American-Caribbean nation. In 2008, the late George Subraj pioneered Guyana’s first kidney transplant by bringing in a team of transplant surgeons from Walter Reed Medical Center of Washington, DC, to save the life of a 17-year-old boy. In the ensuing years, countless more liver and kidney disease patients have been saved.
George later introduced pediatric heart surgeries to Guyana, saving the lives of eight children, whose parents were unable to raise the huge sums necessary for the same surgery overseas. His efforts helped bring the necessary life-saving equipment, built out facilities and recruited leading U.S. surgeons to help Guyanese doctors establish specialty care that could save even more lives in the future.
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Over recent years, the family’s efforts were instrumental in bringing eye care treatments and ophthalmological exams to Guyana and donating more than 5,000 pairs of glasses for people losing their eyesight, as well as facilitating the first cataract surgeries for Guyanese, who would go blind without the procedure.
While George passed away in November 2016, his legacy of “treating life as a gift” continues through the hard work and dedication of his brothers Jay and Ken.
Jay Sobhraj thanked the Chamber community for honoring Zara, on behalf of his brothers and their families. He noted, “We are very passionate about helping our community, both in Queens and in our homeland of Guyana. Through our community investments, we can help more people seize opportunity and achieve their dreams. It is our way of thanking God for blessing us with the ability to help propel others towards pursuing a fuller life of liberty, and happiness.”
The Zara family foundations continues to bridge the gap to benefit the less fortunate, empowering people to reach their best potential. This entails scholarships and specialized education test preparation courses to students, it includes robotics for STEM programs and sports equipment to teach kids values of hard work, teamwork, and ethics. They also invested in community wellness by strengthening the relationship among communities they serve here in New York and Guyana.
The Jay and Sylvia Sobhraj Foundation donated over $1 million in state-of-the-art computer technology and training to modernize Guyana’s national police force’s cyber and information sharing capability. This summer Jay Subraj was met by Guyana President Mohamed Irfaan Ali to tour police facilities across the nation to examine the beneficial impact the technology program has had.