BOSTON – The Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) will honor Framingham City Councillor Margareth Shepard with the MAPS 2019 Person of the Year Award at the organization’s 2019 fundraising gala, scheduled for April 27, 2019, at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, in Cambridge.
The announcement was made at the MAPS Annual Meeting, held on October 30 at the MAPS Cambridge office.
A role model for immigrants and the Brazilian community, Shepard made history last year by becoming the first Brazilian immigrant elected to a City Council position in the United States.
She had already served the community for several years as an advocate for immigrant rights and democratic engagement through her roles at BRACE, the Brazilian American Center in Framingham, and the group Brazilians for Political Education.
“A lot of our work revolves around incentivizing our immigrant clients to become U.S. citizens, so that they can take full advantage of their rights, especially the right to vote and run for public office, which empowers our communities as a whole,” said Paulo Pinto, MPA, MAPS’ Executive Director. “Margareth couldn’t be a more perfect example of this. To be elected to public office as an immigrant woman is an incredible achievement that fills us with pride, and we hope that by honoring her at our 2019 Gala, we will inspire many more community members to engage in the political process.”
MAPS will also be honoring several other outstanding individuals for their great contributions to the Portuguese-speaking communities of Massachusetts at the 2019 Gala.
The Boston Police Department’ Cabo Verdean Police Association will receive the MAPS 2019 Jorge Fidalgo Community Service Award. The group was founded in 2014 with the mission of addressing problems in the city’s Cabo Verdean community, and aims to overcome language barriers, promote youth development and mentoring. This year, the group held its first Annual Cabo Verdean Association Scholarship Gala, and handed out four scholarships to deserving local recipients for their upcoming collegiate studies.
Fernanda Rocha, a Brazilian advocate, founder and president of a support group for Brazilian mothers of autistic children in Everett, will be receiving the MAPS 2019 Manuel N. Coutinho Outstanding Volunteer Award, in recognition of her volunteer work and dedication to families with children with special needs.
The support group holds monthly meetings with different health and autism professionals to help educate these families, and Rocha, a mother of two autistic children herself, is a passionate advocate who has made a tremendous difference in the lives of the families and children she supports.
The MAPS 2019 Álvaro Lima Oustanding Business Award will be honoring two prominent business leaders in the Portuguese community – Joseph Cerqueira, co-owner of the Rocco’s Restaurant and Bar in Wilmington, and Walter Sousa, owner of Inman Square Wine & Spirits in Cambridge– for their continued support of MAPS and other community organizations. “Their resolute commitment to supporting the MAPS Senior Center in Cambridge over the past year, including donating the entirety of the profits of the bar during the Boston Portuguese Festival held this past June, is truly exceptional and worthy of celebration,” said Pinto.
The MAPS 2019 Mary & Manuel Roger Lifetime Community Service Award will be presented to the Chaves Family, of Arlington, represented by Dorothy, Mark, Philip and Jake Chaves.
“This inspirational Portuguese-American family has a long history of giving back to the community,” Pinto said. They founded the Joe & Dorothy Chaves Foundation in 2010 in honor of the family’s patriarch, the late Joe Chaves, a popular and philanthropic businessman. The foundation holds an annual 5-K Walk/ Run in his honor to raises funds to support several scholarships, the MAPS Citizenship program, and the Bunker Hill Community College, where Joe taught.
The MAPS Awards Gala is the health and social services organization’s main annual fundraising event, and raises crucial funds to support a variety of services to the Portuguese-speaking communities of Massachusetts. The black-tie-optional event is a fun-filled celebration of the community’s cultures and successes, and features a banquet, an awards ceremony, a silent auction, a red-carpet cocktail reception, and lively cultural entertainment.
MAPS, with offices in Cambridge, Somerville, Brighton, Dorchester, Lowell, and Framingham, has served the Portuguese-speaking communities of Massachusetts and others since 1970. More information is available on the organization’s website at maps-inc.org.