Bay Ridge

Bay Ridge’s doyenne turns 95

Civic leaders gather to celebrate Jane Kelly

November 29, 2016 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Jane Kelly, a longtime member of the Bay Ridge Community Council, is pictured with some of her friends from that organization, Barbara Vellucci, Arlene Keating, Kevin Peter Carroll and Robert Hedlund (left to right). Eagle photo by Paula Katinas
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Jane Kelly is 95 years young! Blessed with the energy of people decades younger than her, Kelly continues to maintain a hectic schedule of meetings and activities surrounding the various civic organizations she is involved with in her beloved neighborhood of Bay Ridge.

But while Kelly, a retired Catholic school teacher, prefers being behind the scenes, her friends put her front and center on Monday night when they threw the Bay Ridge doyenne a surprise party for her 95th birthday.

More than three dozen of civic leaders gathered at the Greenhouse Café on Third Avenue to yell “Surprise!” as Kelly entered the restaurant. She said she was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the warm reception.

The party was organized by three of Kelly’s friends, Ilene Sacco, Renee Dorsa and Kate Cucco, who are following in her footsteps by becoming civic leaders of their own. All of the women have served in leadership positions in the Bay Ridge Community Council, which Kelly has been a member of for more than 50 years.

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Kelly also serves on the Bay Ridge Council for the Aging and is a member of numerous other grass-roots organizations.

The party room at the Greenhouse Café was filled with Bay Ridge Community Council members, Community Board 10 officials, members of the 68th Precinct Community Council and leaders of Ragamuffin Inc., the group that sponsors the annual Children’s Ragamuffin Parade on Third Avenue.

“We love you!” Sacco told Kelly.

So respected is Kelly that when the Bay Ridge Center, a program serving senior citizens in the neighborhood, conducted a “Neighborhood Needs Assessment” survey last spring to learn more about the lifestyles and needs of older adults, she was the first person the survey-takers came to with their questionnaire.

The survey was funded by a $100,000 grant secured by Councilmember Vincent Gentile (D-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Bensonhurst) and was administered through the New York City Department for the Aging.

The survey included 118 questions on such topics as whether seniors regularly attend religious services, where they shop, whether they eat at home or out, what type of health insurance they have and whether they were interested in learning computer skills.

Kelly, who taught for many years at Our Lady of Angels Catholic School in Bay Ridge before her retirement, was asked what advice she would share with other older adults hoping to remain active and in good health in their golden years.

Her advice was simple. “Keep active. There are so many organizations that need volunteers,” she said in a soft-spoken voice.

Kelly may be a representative of a growing trend in Bay Ridge, older adults who call the community their home, according to local officials. The neighborhood is home to nearly 20,000 people over the age of 60, officials said.

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