Loss for the Community

Tireless Volunteer, Bold Whistleblower, Padmini "Bubu" Arya Leaves Roosevelt Island Today

Updated 25 weeks ago David Stone
Bubu Arya spends time helping out at the Senior Center on her last day as a resident of Roosevelt Island.
Bubu Arya spends time helping out at the Senior Center on her last day as a resident of Roosevelt Island.
© David Stone / Roosevelt Island Daily

Padmini Arya, better known as Bubu, spent part of her last day as a resident of Roosevelt Island doing what she's done for years, volunteering, helping out at the CBN/RI Senior Center. She shared some final thoughts with The Daily.

"I've enjoyed everything here," she said of the community, packing up to leave after her last visit to CBN Director Lisa Fernandez's office. "Tell them I will miss everyone."

Arya has contributed countless hours as a member of the Community Advisory Board at Coler, helping feed children at PS/IS 217 and pitching in at the Senior Center.

"Right from the start, she was always here, helping us out," said Fernandez, recalling CBN's rocky first months reinvigorating a damaged Senior Center.

Arya brushed off the compliment. Helping out is just what she's always done. She's modestly shied away from the spotlight, never reaching out for recognition, a classic "Do the right thing" contributor to the community.

Today, January 23rd, Arya leaves New York and Roosevelt Island to resettle with family elsewhere. 

Roosevelt Island's blessed with enthusiastic volunteers. Judy Berdy, Wendy Hersh and Lynne Strong-Shinozaki come instantly to mind, and then, there are the unpaid RIOC Board and Common Council Members. But you can never replace a Bubu Arya.

Not Just a Volunteer... 

A few years back, serving on the Board of the Roosevelt Island Seniors Association, Arya became aware of illegal activity within the organization. She did what most of us hope we'd do and went to the authorities with the information.

She was surprised to find them uninterested.

Then, she did what few of us would do. She kept pushing, knowing that thefts were denying services to the seniors she was determined to help.

Eventually, joined by fellow whistleblower and RISA Board Member Wendy Hersh, Arya got someone to listen. At their urging and with support from City Council Member Ben Kallos, the Department for the Aging finally investigated.

DFTA soon terminated RISA's contract to manage the Senior Center. Within a year, RISA's Program Director pleaded guilty to three felonies in an eighteen count indictment.

Before that unfolded, RISA's Board and not yet indicted Program Director were given space in the local print newspaper to trash both Arya and Hersh. Both were eventually vindicated but dealt with taunts and accusations inspired by RISA's false accusations.

This, Arya also waved off.

It was the right thing to do, and being shunned by a small, but influential group was not going to discourage her.

There's more to that story, but we decided to let it go. 

Wounds need to heal, but more important are Bubu Arya's gifts to the community. They'll stay with us longer.

Time to go.

I hugged my friend Bubu and thanked her for all she's done for us.

She blushed a little.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm going to miss seeing Bubu's quick smile and immense energy, the distinct sunburst of goodness penetrating the community. 

We will never replace Bubu Arya. We will try not to forget.


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