Currents News Staff
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens St. Charles Jubilee Senior Center celebrated the 100th birthday of Vivian Levy, longtime member and Brooklynite, on July 17th.
Born on July 18, 1919, Vivian Levy grew up in Brooklyn Heights and gave most of her life in service to others. Although she wanted to pursue a career in science, she took time off to care for her three children. And after seeing how happy her two friends were as school teachers, Levy became one too.
“She and her husband were teachers, and they had children, they seemed to enjoy it so much,” said Levy. “I said, ‘You know? That sounds like a nice career.’ I felt it was the kind of career that allowed me to come home and spend time with my children.”
While teaching at P.S 188 in Coney Island, Levy witnessed a guidance counselor take a girl who was constantly disruptive out of her class, and then bring her back into the room after spending an hour with the student.
“When she came back, [the] little girl sat down, with all smiles, good as gold,” said Levy. “And I asked, ‘What is that lady?’ and they said she was a guidance counselor. I said ‘Oh, that’s what I’d like to be.”
She described her 14 years of being a counselor as “interesting” and fondly remembered not only helping children, but their parents too.
Raised to believe that everyone should be treated equally, Levy marched for Civil Rights. There was once one incident where police officers on horses chased her and many other protestors off the streets. An activist at heart, that didn’t deter Levy.
Instilled with the same belief of equality, Levy’s eldest son followed in his mother’s footsteps and displayed his own form of activism as well.
“My oldest, when he was in high school, he organized a sit down in Mort’s because they wouldn’t serve black people,” Levy proudly recalled. “He and his friends picketed. He went on in, sat down [and] organized a boycott of that.”
Believing that it was wrong to send young men to fight a war that America should have had no part in, Levy marched against the Vietnam War and was also an avid supporter for Women’s Rights.
Although she spent a lot of her time being an activist, she didn’t find any trouble finding a balance with motherhood. In fact, she thought it was easy.
“I had three children, I had a baby in a carriage and I collected signatures against the nuclear war,” said Levy. “I remember just pushing the carriage and collecting signatures.”
Wanting to preserve the peaceful world she lived in, she joined Brooklyn Parents for Peace, an organization that allows Brooklyn residents to resolve conflict in a peaceful manner. She believes that people shouldn’t be fighting over unnecessary issues, especially if they can be resolved peacefully.
Even after all the years she spent on fighting for what’s right, Levy never really got tired. Even in her sixties, she collected signatures against nominating Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.
“It’s not that you get tired, but as you get older, there’s very little you can do,” she said.
After her husband’s death and through a suggestion of a friend, Levy became a member of Catholic Charities St. Charles Jubilee Center in 2011.
There is still excitement in her voice when talking about the trips and activities she went on with the friends made along the way.
“This is a wonderful center, we went on so many wonderful trips,” said Levy. “Museum trips, garden trips; I think this is a wonderful thing that seniors can partake in. It opens so many wonderful things for seniors to do.”
She was honored in the center’s cafeteria with a birthday celebration surrounded by family and friends. Many people expressed their appreciation for Levy by giving her gifts and praising her for her thoughtfulness, as well as the positivity and joy that she brings to the center.