For members at the East Concourse BronxWorks Senior Center on East Tremont Avenue and members of the surrounding community, Mae Moton is a priceless asset in their lives.
The community activist, who is 91 years old, was honored on Thursday, February 23 by members of the community, members of the center, family and friends at a luncheon held at the center.
Solomon Smart, the program director at BronxWorks Senior Center, said the event, which was in honor of Black History month as well, was the largest celebration he has seen at the center so far.
“I am really grateful to everyone who came here to celebrate Black History and to honor Mae Moton,” he said. “This is an important celebration because we never want to forget where we came from and how we got here. This is a great honor and privilege for me.”
As part of the festivities, Moton was congratulated by friends, current and former elected officials, and the BronxWorks staff.
“Mae Moton has been a valuable asset to Mount Hope and Tremont communities for many years,” said BronxWorks executive director Carolyn McLaughlin. “She has played a key role in maintaining neighborhood institutions, creating new ones, and laying the foundation for our future.”
The BronxWorks East Concourse Senior Center originally started as the Jewish Association Serving the Aging until 2004 when dwindling numbers of Jewish users led to BronxWorks sponsorship.
Moton, who had worked at the center for 29 years, 16 as a director, was instrumental in convincing BronxWorks to take over the operation.
Friends and residents all spoke of Moton with the fondness of a beloved grandparent.
Kelly Girsch, a resident of the area, said she grew up around the center, helping out.
“I used to come here with my mother and deliver meals to seniors who we unable to get here,” she said. “Mae was always here, I love her, and she really is great. Thank you Mae for everything you do for everybody. You’re very special.”
Police officer Sammy Perez from the 46th Precinct said he wanted to thank Moton on behalf of the entire precinct .
“Thank you for all you have done at this center,” Perez said. “The police Department and the 46th Precinct love these kinds of places. They keep things good in the neighborhood, we need places like this, so thank you.”
Moton said she has always had a very good relationship with the police department and the precincts, in order to keep trouble out of the neighborhood and also to help out seniors in the area, for things like shopping.
“I was the first woman in the neighborhood to go down to the 46th Precinct, and ask if all of the paddy wagons I saw sitting outside could be used to take some of us ladies from the neighborhood shopping at the grocery store,” Moton said. “And they did. And you should have seen the way people were looking at all of these old women in the back of this paddy wagon, I joked and told them it was a Bingo bust.”
Principal Ann Keegan presented Moton with an outstanding citizen award from the children at P.S. 209 during the luncheon.
“I am honored to celebrate Mrs. Moton’s legacy,” Keegan said. “We thank her for her great spirit and wisdom.”
Moton still lives in the area, where years ago she would sit on her porch and read to neighborhood children. She still sits on her porch, mostly talking to passersby now, who sometimes include visitors to a nearby drug rehabilitation program. She said she reminds them of her hopes that someday fate will take them in another more positive direction.
Moton said she will always be an activist.
“This is just one beautiful affair,” she said as the celebration came to a close. “Black history is every day, not once a month. They don’t teach them in school like they used to, so we’ve got to teach them. Let the fight go on.”
©2012 Community News Group