PRdream mourns the passing of Yolanda Sanchez, 1932 – 2012

Political Activist and Community Leader Yolanda Sanchez died earlier today. She was born in El Barrio/East Harlem, and has lived there for most of her life.

She is a graduate of The City College of New York/CUNY and has a Master’s Degree from Columbia University in Social Work with a Specialization on Community Organizing.

Considered one of the most ardent defenders of the Latino empowerment movement in New York City, Yolanda was part of the group that organized, in the 1960’s, the Puerto Rican Association for Community Affairs (PRACA) which established the first Puerto Rican foster care and adoption services agency in New York.

At Dr. Antonia Pantoja’s invitation, she joined the staff of ASPIRA in 1962. Yolanda was also one of the original board members of the East Harlem council for Human Services, Inc.

Through the EHCHS, Ms. Sanchez lead the team that developed and built Taino Towers, with 700 units of low and moderate income housing, and Casabe Houses, with 124 units of subsidized housing for the elderly. In 2010, under Casabe Houses sponsorship and financing, Yolanda developed C.A.C.H. E., (Casabe Arts, Culture, History, Education program).

In addition, Yolanda is a founding member of the National Latinas Caucus, a feminist organization. She also organized and served as first chair of El BAC (El Barrio Action Coalition). In the early 1970’s, she organized and led one of the first groups to travel from the United States to China after the Second World War.

2 thoughts on “PRdream mourns the passing of Yolanda Sanchez, 1932 – 2012


    Word of yesterday’s passing of Yolanda Sánchez circulated widely in the Puerto Rican community, the day after the celebration of the National Puerto Rican Day Parade.

    Yolanda’s passing resonated deeply to the many who knew her, not only because of the force of nature she was but also because it represented the passing of a generation of Puerto Rican activists who literally changed the world. She also represented the best of that cradle of the Puerto Rican community, El Barrio (East Harlem) in New York’s Manhattan.

    When I was a high school student back in 1968, I remember Yolanda speaking to us at an Aspira of New York event, where she told us young boricuas that we would be the leaders of tomorrow. I never forgot that because it was the first time I heard one of our community’s leaders invest me with such an important responsibility. I never forgot that and will never forget this proud and kind Black Puerto Rican woman. —Angelo Falcón (June 12, 2012)

    For the first Trailblazer Award, we recognize today the extraordinary achievements of Yolanda Sanchez, a woman of almost mythic standing . . . I am pleased . . . to recognize and honor Yolanda Sanchez, social worker, organizer…one of the true founding mothers in the social work community.
    —Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College (2012)

    Yolanda Sanchez left footprints, time for the young to review and learn from them; your dedication will move the face of el barrio forward. Yolanda completed her assignment. Now it’s your turn . . . our turn . . . we must continue to pass the torch, keep the light going and make Yolanda proud.
    —Alberto O. Cappas

  2. This was my Titi Yolanda, her life was built around the betterment of the Puerto Rican community. I myself am a so called New Yorican. I can remember as far back as my 5th birthday, I would recieve books which were educational and focused on Puerto Rican history. If there was anything I needed to know about where I came from and who my people were, she taught me what I needed to know and answered all my questions. The organizations she created and was drafted into have even help me in my early years. I am proud of everything she has done for the community and her family. She must have helped and encouraged at least tens of thousands of people. I love her and I am proud to be her nephew.
    Esteban Diaz

Leave a Reply