Over the summer, when members of the Eileen Dugan Senior Center were forced to relocate to the basement because the landlord had rented the ground floor to a new daycare franchise, longtime Carroll Gardens resident Celia Maniero Cacace, 77, wasn't afraid like the others to speak out in opposition.
Though it was the first time we had ever chatted, it wasn't the first time she had raised her voice in dissent.
As a 20-year-plus member of Community Board 6, Cacace is known among colleagues and friends for being as outspoken at meetings as she is on the sidewalk, having contributed to the neighborhood over the years in various ways.
From coordinating summer jobs for youth, to overseeing cleanup crews for the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrow, to organizing festivals in Carroll Park and reactivating the original Society of Mother Cabrini of South Brooklyn, Cacace is the exemplar of someone who gets involved. She put as much passion behind an individual's "problems with bad landlords, unfair evictions, and seniors who didn’t understand their meds," says PortSide New York's Carolina Salguero, as when the Barclays Center/Atlantic Yards reared its head.
At the time, Cacace once again was unafraid to express her disapproval to CB6 on the development project, even when it "led to borough president Marty Markowitz not re-appointing her to another term," according to the New York Post.
But now, after so many years of fighting on behalf of others, Cacace is the one in need of a champion: Her first-floor, First Place apartment is being sold—forcing her to be out by Jan. 14.
Having tried unsuccessfully for the last six months to find another home for the same $500-a-month she paid in rent, Cacace must leave the place she loves to move in with a son who lives in Wisconsin.
That is, unless someone can find a way to bring her back.
"Despite the best efforts of many dedicated to her cause, no one has been able to help," said District Manager Craig Hammerman in an e-mail. "So, for now at least, she'll be leaving Brooklyn until the angels smile upon her and a viable housing alternative emerges."
A Celia Cacace Tribute Party and the launch of the "Bring Celia Back from Wisconsin" campaign will be held on Sunday, Jan. 13 from 3:30pm to 6:30pm at Mama Maria’s Restaurant located at 307 Court St. Tickets are $30; $10 for seniors. Hors d'oeuvres and cash bar.
Donations will be accepted, leads on inexpensive rentals are encouraged, and memories of Celia are expected to be shared.
RSVP by Jan. 10 to info@BrooklynCB6.org or (718) 643-3027, ext 201.