In Memoriam: Rafaela “Betty” Capellan

Rafaela “Betty” Capellan


All of us at BHC are saddened by the loss of one of our family members, Rafaela “Betty” Capellan. Betty made her transition on Friday, March 15th after a battle with Cancer.  A talented
artist born in the Dominican Republic, she came to NYC when she was 2 years old. She always regarded herself as a Dominican made in Harlem, residing at 519 West 144th Street almost all of her life. Betty made a lasting impact on everyone she came in contact with through her art, her personality and her generous spirit.

Betty has been a part of BHC for 20 years. Upon her arrival at BHC IN 1999 she started out volunteering  at  Rio Gallery, then  co-founded the LETRA Program (Literacy Through the Arts) for 35 children at 10 Fort Washington. In 2000 Betty began working with BHC full time and immediately began working on several youth initiatives including the creation of Baby Quilts for the infants and toddlers living with Aids Encarnation Center,  A total of 22 quilts were created among 30 children and 6 adult tutors.  Betty also served as Coordinator for BHC partnership with IRC Collaborative,  a city wide social justice program founded and directed by Dr. Grace Yun. Betty was the videographer for the bi-monthly programs of IRC Collaborative and documented the first drafts of the Peace Quit created by the Collaborative in collaboration with artist Faith Ringgold. The Peace Quilt has travelled the entire world and will be hung, in 2021 at the 9/11 Museum in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the Twin Towers.

In 2003 Betty was given the title of Educational Advocate for the children and Families of Dorothy Day Apartments.   She held this position until her passing.  During her tenure as Educational Advocate she successfully managed to enroll numerous BHC children into some of the best schools in New York City with many of them continuing on to college and having great success. Among Betty’s many success stories are graduates from Fashion Institute of Technology,  The City College of New York Sophie Davis Medical School and two graduates from the prestigious Brown University .  One of which will begin Medical school in the fall and the other is now a Fulbright fellow in the Dominican Republic  and was just accepted to the Ph.D. Program of the University of Pennsylvania.

Betty has truly left a legacy and her family here at BHC will miss her presence but her spirit lives on.

A memorial tribute event will be held in the coming weeks. Details will be announced soon.

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