A Grand Street Celebration: Mama YaYa Turns 100

City Council member Margaret Chin with Eladia Velez.

City Council member Margaret Chin with Eladia Velez.

Mama YaYa celebrated her birthday in style on Saturday. And with good reason. The longtime Lower East Side resident, Eladia Velez, just turned 100!

The Grand Street Guild’s community room was decorated for the occasion. There was cake, and balloons and a special proclamation from City Council member Margaret Chin.

Velez was born in Puerto Rico in 1918 and came to New York in 1948 with her husband. She worked as a seamstress, following in the footsteps of her mother. In 1989, Velez returned to Puerto Rico, and obtained credentials to become a social worker. Three years later, she came back to New York, and has lived on the Lower East Side ever since. Two of four children are still alive, as well as 9 grandchildren and 22 great grand children. Many of them were in attendance at Saturday’s celebration.

The other day, Grand Street Guild resident Daisy Paez took Channel 11’s Greg Mocker to visit Mama YaYa.