Frank Modica has served as the Hamilton-Madison House director for 34 years. The House is a nonprofit settlement, which is now in its 100th year. It is mainly committed to improving the quality of life of the people and their families within the neighborhoods. At the age of 81, Modica passed away in 2013, followed by the immediate brainstorming of the people around him on how they could honor a man who converted the Lower East Side (LES) as his complete life.
Last week, family, friends, and wo-workers of Modica gathered together at the Rutger Slip and South Street so as to co-name the street as “Frank T. Modica Way.” Two Bridges Neighborhood Council board member Victor Papa boasted about the history of the entire neighborhood, saying that immigrants have disembarked from the area since the early 1800s.
Modica served as the director from 1976 until 2010, and also served as the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council chairperson.
The Two Bridges Urban Renewal District located along the South Street hosts 1,500 units of very affordable housing. It has been the flagship project, housing formerly homeless individuals and families, including a separate building for seniors.
Elaine Hoffman, a tenant leader expressed how much she appreciated and loved Modica. She noted that he was a former priest, and as a director of the House, Modica certainly developed it, forming it for people and providing the necessary services. The LES leader had also lived and worked elsewhere, however, was considered as a “Lower East Sider”, according to Papa during the street ceremony, proudly saying that Modica was one of them.
Among the attendees were some seniors, Two Bridges tenants, representatives of the local politicians, and a group of youth from the after-school program. Papa told the kids that the event was their expedition into civic action. While holding himself to burst into tears, he added that Modica was also his family, he’s happy and proud for what he did for the community, and finally said, while looking up at the sign, “Keep on shining on us.”
Margaret Chin, a city council member mentioned a several, local initiatives that Modica was known for, and responsible for setting up. Amongst the initiatives, she said, were involving health programs and the Head Start. Modica had certain passion for the welfare of the community, she added.
Kathleen and Sean, Modica’s widow and son respectively, also attended the street ceremony, paying tribute to their beloved and community-loved family member.
In a statement, Sean said that the city was his father’s too and so were the people. Sean added that the late community activist had dedicated his entire life just to serve the community. His father worked hard in order to make the place better and safer, he said.
The son of the late director also has high hopes that people would see the sign, recognize his father in several ways, and to be inspired of what he has done for the community, and that others will follow his footsteps.