Bea Badian and Rose Kryzak: friends and social activists
Bea Badian came to Sunnyside in 1938 and remained in the neighborhood until her death in 2008 at the age of 104. With her best friend and neighbor, Rose Kryzak, she worked tirelessly to make better the lives of seniors in the state of New York, with a special focus on health care.
As secretary of an International Workers Order (IWO) cooperative selling health care coverage, Bea was involved in the successful struggle to establish the first public single-health care system in America, which grew rapidly into what is now the largest non-profit, single-payer health and medical provider in the country, EmblemHealth.
Throughout the 1980s, Bea, then Secretary of NY StateWide Senior Action Council (NYSSAC), and Rose, the organization’s President, spearheaded the fight for the Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC) in New York State. In 1986, the two women traveled to Albany together with a group of activist seniors as part of a march on Governor Mario Cuomo's office demanding action on EPIC legislation, which passed soon thereafter.
Closer to home, Bea and Rose were honored in 1992 for their volunteer work in creating Sunnyside Community Services, established as a senior center in 1974, and offering licensed home care services by 1979. Sunnyside Community Services has the current distinction of being the largest community based social service organization in western Queens, providing its services to children, adults and seniors through its various programs.
Bea and Rose’s social activism into the 1990s represents the kind of commitment to make life better for working people that many of our parents had when we were children growing up. That these two women continued their work into their 90s is remarkable, and reveals the depth of compassion they had for people.
NYSSAC Executive Rose Kryzak, President, seated second from left; Bea Badian, Secretary, seated at right.
Governor Mario Cuomo signs EPIC legislation with Rose Kryzak and Edith Billing to his left.