The Villager: Politicians honor Cecere, their toughest lobbyist

Thomas K. Duane

November 17, 2009

By Albert Amateau

Lucy Cecere was definitely the Woman of Distinction last week — and for the past few decades.

The born-and-bred Villager and founder of The Caring Community received the 2009 award of that name from state Senator Tom Duane at the noon Caring Community gathering last Thursday at Our Lady of Pompei Church.

Caring Community was founded in 1971 to serve seniors and help them achieve independence, dignity and respect; Lucy Cecere, 86, was there at the beginning and she’s still on the board of directors.

In the presence of nearly 100 of her fellow Villagers, Cecere also received similar proclamations from the City Council, presented by Speaker Christine Quinn, and from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

Duane said at the Nov. 12 event that the state Senate award was for the woman in his district most deserving and dedicated to the community, and that no one fit the bill as well as Cecere.

“If Lucy put the arm on you, there was no better lobbyist ever,” Duane said, adding on a personal note that Cecere spoke at his inauguration when he was first elected to the state Senate.

“There isn’t a proclamation long enough to list all the reasons to honor you,” Quinn told Cecere. “Lucy puts pressure on us every day to make sure that government does everything it can for seniors.”

Caryn Resnick, deputy commissioner of the Department for the Aging, a former executive director of The Caring Community, recalled that when she first came to The Caring Community in 1995, “Lucy opened her arms to me and opened my eyes to the needs of seniors.” Resnick noted that Cecere worked in the Mayor’s Office in the weeks after Sept. 11, 2001, coordinating meals for rescue workers. Many speakers praised Cecere for her relentless advocacy for affordable senior housing.

“Lucy has always had an internal compass about what is the right thing to do,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick, “and she does it with grace, elegance and a strong personal commitment to those who need her help. We are not just proud of her, we are grateful to her.”

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