New York Today: A 101-Year-Old’s Advice for New Yorkers


Still speaking up, at 101.

Yeong-Ung Yang for The New York Times

Good morning on this chancy Tuesday.

Mary Sansone is a loud voice in New York City. And that’s saying a lot. She’s 101.

The Brooklyn resident, who was born in 1916 in what is now Cobble Hill, has been a community activist since she was 12.

“My life has always been organizing,” she said, “and I’m not afraid to tell people how I feel.”

As a child, she and her father would join rallies in Union Square to support unions. After high school, she worked in a Manhattan sweatshop to better understand the working conditions and help laborers organize protests and go on strike. She volunteered with the Red Cross during World War II, among other social service work.

When Ms. Sansone’s son died at the age of 31, she started a foundation to encourage other young New Yorkers to find voice and purpose within their communities, just as he had.

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So we asked Ms. Sansone for advice on how young New Yorkers can be more engaged in the city and world around them — in big and small ways.

Civic Engagement

• Figure out what your neighbors’ needs are and then decide how you can best help, Ms. Sansone said. For example, if that need is housing, the focus could be as broad as improving safety at nearby homeless shelters, or as specific as finding lodging and resources for a local family whose home has burned down, which Ms. Sansone did recently.

“Go to the church and ask, ‘Do you think people in this community need help, and what kind of help do they need?’” she said. “Go into the schools and ask the principal, ‘Do you have kids that need help, and how…

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