COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT: Alice Cardona has advocated for women’s rights and has been the founder of various organizations addressing issues confronting the Puerto Rican and Latino community, among them the Hispanic AIDS Forum, the National Latinas Caucus, and the Queens Hispanic Political Action Committee. Cardona is currently involved with Voces Latinas, an HIV/AID’s program in Queens, as fundraising chair. “I decided after reading an article in the newspaper, that I needed to be a part of it,” said Cardona. “The current thing I am doing as a community activist is being involved – information is the way to salvation, and if you’re informed, you know what to do.”
PERSONAL: Cardona indicated seeing herself as an instrument of god. “My mission in life is to do all the good I can do here so I can get to heaven,” noted Cardona. “I’m coming from a dedication in life of providing and helping people to advance and help them from where they stand to where they want to be.” Cardona, 81, of Puerto Rican descent was born during the period of the great depression in el barrio of Spanish Harlem, comprised of 96th to 125th Street and First Avenue to Fifth Avenue. “What I am today, I owe it to el barrio and those hungry years,” Cardona said.
GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT: Cardona’s greatest moment of accomplishment was when she fulfilled her childhood dream to go to China. “We went to Hong Kong and Beijing, and it was just an amazing experience,” said Cardona. “A fabulous experience!”
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: The biggest challenge Cardona had growing up was not being able to attend Hunter College. “I still remember walking from 68th street, crying my eyes out,” said Cardona. “The reason I couldn’t make it to Hunter College, was because I did not have math and at that time it was the requirement – I ended up going to Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont, best time of my life.”
FAVORITE MEMORY: Cardona’s most favorite memory occurred last year, on her eightieth birthday. “Almost equivalent to my quinceañera (sweet fifteen), a big celebration in the Latino community, it was a moment in history that was a passage, not realizing it then – but instead realizing it on my eightieth birthday,” Cardona said. “It was a wonderful party and an accumulation of all things you could possibly have, in every table there was a memory.”
INSPIRATION: Maria Dolores Tosado Jimenez Cruz inspired Cardona. “I would have to say my mother,” Cardona noted. “Many years ago, I was working as a stock room clerk, but my mom told visiting relatives, I was a teacher. Why? ‘Because I know you could do better,’ she told me and I never forgot that.” – Gaudys Sanclemente