FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | November 15, 2016
Contact: John Blasco, (212) 788-7366, firstname.lastname@example.org
Carmen Pabón, Lower East Side Activist and Gardener,Dies at 94
Carmen Pabón born June of 1922 in Ciales, Puerto Rico died Saturday night surrounded by her family. Pabón migrated to New York City in 1946. She lived in the Bronx and worked in a factory. A few years later, she relocated to Manhattan and in 1955, she moved into NYCHA’s Lillian Wald Houses where she lived until a few days prior to her death.
Pabón well known for her humanitarian acts was fondly referred to as the “Madrina of Loisaida” (the Lower East Side Godmother) and as the Mother Teresa of the Lower East Side. She volunteered in not-for-profit organizations such as Charas/El Bohío and Loisaida, Inc. She served on the Board of Housing Works. Among other things, she was active in the Committee to Save Charas and the Coalition to Save St. Brigid’s Church.
In the 1970’s, Pabón became active in the community garden movement. She with the help of other residents removed the rubble from several empty lots located on the southwest corner of Avenue C and East 7th Street. The garden named “El Bello Amanecer” (A Beautiful Dawn) bears the same name as a mural on the side of the building abutting the garden. She tended to the garden for several decades where she was known for feeding the homeless and providing social services referrals.
In the late 1990’s, the City of New York under then Mayor Rudolph Giuliani conveyed many community gardens sites to developers for housing construction. The Lower East Side community lost Esperanza Garden located on East 7th Street and two of the three lots that comprised El Bello Amanecer Garden for the construction of the Eastville Gardens building. A year later, Pabón had to leave the garden to make way for construction equipment.
In 1999, a NYC Council land use hearing with then Councilwoman Margarita López determined that the lot known as Carmen Pabón’s Garden would be permanent community garden with a not-for-profit garden association that would receive a 99 year lease. After many obstacles, the garden finally re-opened on Wednesday, October 26th, 2016. Pabón attended the re-opening ceremony of the garden that was renamed in her honor now known as the Carmen Pabón del Amanecer Garden.
Councilwoman Rosie Méndez said: “When I moved to the Lower East Side, Lisa Kaplan told me that the first thing I had to do was meet Carmen Pabón. Lisa took me to Carmen’s garden and when she wasn’t there, she walked me to Loisaida, Inc. There was Carmen with a broom in one hand sweeping the floor and a pen in her hair that she was using to register people for tables for the upcoming Loisaida Fair.”
Méndez continued: “I will miss her dearly. All of Loisaida will. I am grateful that she was here for the re-opening of St. Brigid’s Church and that we were able to clear all the hurdles to re-open her garden. I was so thrilled that she was able to go to the garden and cut that ribbon.”
Funeral & Wake Arrangements:
Wednesday, November 16th 4-9pm, Ortiz Funeral Home, 22 1st Avenue
Thursday, November 17th , 9:45am, St Brigid Church, 119 Avenue B