When she’s not busy helping her fellow co-workers over at the MTA’s corporate office, Yovanna Peguero is home in Brooklyn—mixing batter and frosting cakes in her free time.
“I’m a baker!” says Peguero. “Wedding cakes, sweets for bridal and baby showers, I can bake just about anything.” When friends or family need treats for an upcoming event, the mini-bakery Yovanna runs out of her kitchen is their go-to source.
For more than 30 years Peguero has had a thriving side business baking cakes for weddings, birthdays and other occasions.
“For about 10 years, before starting this job, I was home with my four kids and baking cakes,” she chuckles. “I was very busy.”
She has four grown children – all of them “professional,” she beams – and now has seven grandchildren and a great grandchild. Peguero says her union and co-workers are “like family” as well.
“Getting things done the right way and helping others really keeps me going,” she says.
Her dedication doesn’t go unnoticed. She’s been named Lower Manhattan Office Cleaner of the Year. Hector Saez, Peguero’s supervisor of almost four years describes her as “responsible, hard-working and an essential part of the staff.”
Peguero first joined 32BJ in 1995, working as a “floater” in buildings such as Carnegie Hall and Grand Central and worked at the publishing company, Feffer & Simons for nine years, and for a year on the West Coast, was a hair stylist.
Peguero was “pleasantly surprised” when notified of her award, as she is not just dedicated to her job, but also to the union. “I organized the union from the beginning.” When Peguero is not doing her best “Norma Rae” impression, her focus is on her job, which is cleaning, predominantly the 24th floor of the 32-floor building. Peguero, 65, was born in the Dominican Republic, but moved to Brooklyn in 1966, where she has spent most of the past 50 years.
“The neighborhood has changed so much since I first got here,” says Peguero. “It’s like SoHo has moved to Brooklyn—we have all of these new restaurants…They’ve really been building it up. It’s nice.”
But when she retires, Yovanna plans to spend more time in the Sunshine State, visiting her son, mother and siblings in Florida: “It’s time to enjoy the weather… Too much snow in New York!”