An exciting evening of inspiring award recipients, cultural entertainment, glamorous red carpet arrival, silent and live auctions and an elegant banquet helped the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) raise a record of approximately $180,000 at the nonprofit organization’s 2017 Awards Gala in Cambridge on April 29th.
MAPS presented its Person of the Year Award to Lawrence (Larry) K. Fish, founder and chairman of the Fish Family Foundation, in recognition of his outstanding financial career, and his steadfast support of MAPS and many other organizations working with immigrant communities – both personally and through the Fish Family Foundation. Mr. Fish worked and lived in Brazil for several years and speaks fluent Portuguese. His continued support has allowed MAPS to assist thousands of immigrants in becoming U.S. citizens.
Speaking in Portuguese to an audience of more than 440 community and business leaders, as well as public dignitaries, Fish thanked MAPS for the recognition, and his family and the staff at the Foundation for all the support, highlighting the work they do. “I deeply believe that the more you give, the happier you get.”
“Thanks to their ongoing grants, MAPS and other community partners have been able to assist more than 18,000 immigrants from 152 countries of origin—including many Portuguese speakers,” said Paula Coutinho, MAPS Board President. “MAPS alone helped more than 400 people to become naturalized U.S. citizens in 2016, with funding support from the Fish Family Foundation.”
Project Health CV, a non-profit medical aid group who makes yearly visits to Hospital Regional Santiago Norte and Hospital Agostinho Neto, in Cabo Verde, with a variety of medical specialists, was awarded the MAPS Manuel N. Coutinho Oustanding Volunteer Award. The non-profit organization was founded in 2009 by medical staff from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to address, educate, coordinate and provide medical as well as specialized surgical services in Cape Verde. Speaking on behalf of the group, Briony Varda, MD, pointed out some of the successes of the group, and announced the expansion of the number of medical specialties they will be able to bring over to Cabo Verde on their next mission. “We appreciate this award and we thank you again so much for the support”, said Dr. Varda.
John B. Cruz, III was honored with the MAPS Alvaro Lima Outstanding Business Award. The grandson of first generation immigrants from Cabo Verde, Cruz is the president of Cruz Companies, which includes the John B. Cruz Construction Company, one of the leading minority-owned construction firms in the nation, as well as Cruz Development Corporation and Cruz Management Co.
Remembering the values of hard work and community engagement instilled in him by his father, John B. Cruz Jr., fondly known as “Bertie”, Cruz said that his company has always made a point of providing well-paying jobs, contracting with other minority-owned businesses, building affordable housing and, through their nonprofit Cruz Cares unit, supporting community programs that help children, youth, and others. “As a Cabo Verdean businessman, my father faced prejudice, outright racism, and other challenges,” Cruz said. “He used to say you had to work twice as hard to get half as much. I know my father’s spirit is still with us and we’ll carry that spirit into the next century.”
Ana Nava, Phd, LICSW, who has provided critical mental health services for Portuguese speakers in the Cambridge-Somerville area for more than 32 years, received the MAPS Mary & Manuel Rogers Lifetime Community Service Award. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at the Cambridge Heath Alliance, a Team Leader for the Portuguese Mental Health Clinic located at the East Cambridge Health Center, and provides clinical services at the Outpatient Addiction Services at Central Street in Somerville. Born in the Azores, Portugal, Nava’s own experiences as an immigrant marked her career choices and her continued dedication to the Portuguese-speaking communities. From 2002 to 2007, she was the Director of Clinical Services at MAPS, where she managed and supervised the Domestic Violence, Batterer Intervention, Driver Alcohol Education and Family Services programs.
Thanking MAPS for the recognition, Nava called for an end to the stigma often associated with mental health and addiction issues. “It is well documented that, when we talk to others about our concerns, we feel better,” she said.
The MAPS Jorge Fidalgo Community Service Award was presented to Father Volmar Scaravelli, Pastor of St. Tarcisius Church, in Framingham. Of Brazilian nationality and the grandson of Italian immigrants, Scaravelli was ordained a priest in 1982, and his ministry initially took him to Argentina, where he started his work with border immigrants on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. During this period, he worked with Pope Francis, when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. In 2012, along with an active Brazilian Community, Scaravelli founded BRACE – the Brazilian American Center, a non-profit organization that provides information and assistance in areas such as education, health, advocacy, legal referrals, sports, dance and exercise classes, job placement and housing assistance to immigrant communities.
Dedicating his award to “everyone who helped build BRACE”, Scaravelli reminded the audience of the importance of caring for our “immigrant brothers and sisters” and of preserving immigrant’s values and cultural identities.
Executive Director Paulo Pinto and Board President Paula Coutinho congratulated all the honorees and gave special thanks to all the staff, Board members, business sponsors, media sponsors, advertisers, donors, guests and entertainers who made the Gala a great success.
“I have many reasons to say thank you in the most profound way possible, because MAPS is nothing but a collection of people interconnected by a desire to do good for those around us and across the world,” said Pinto. “The MAPS Awards Gala continues to be a celebration of a united and highly diverse community’s pride, success and identity, coming together to raise critical funding in order to help those less fortunate and marginalized members of our communities. As always, when we unite as a community as we do here tonight, the possibilities are endless and powerful. And, along the way, we’ll continue to find many, many reasons to say thank you.”
The MAPS 2017 Awards Gala was once more sponsored at the highest level by Dunkin’ Donuts franchisees Apres Management Group (Serpa family), Cafua Management Group (Cafua family), Couto Management Group (Couto family) and Riverside Management Group (Carvalho and Rodrigues families). Representing the generous group of sponsors, Duarte Carvalho, CEO and Principal of the Riverside Management Group, took to the stage to present the Diamond Sponsor Greeting. “We’ve seen MAPS grow by leaps and bounds over its nearly fifty years of existence,” said Carvalho. “Paulo Pinto and his team are always looking to the future, seeking support to serve up more and better programs that meet our community’s changing needs. On behalf of the Diamond Sponsor Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, thank you, MAPS, and thanks to everyone here for continuing to support MAPS so they can keep serving the Portuguese-speaking communities of Massachusetts for many years to come!”
From its “paparazzi”-lined Red Carpet to its awards ceremony, the black-tie-optional Gala was a festive evening punctuated with entertainment from the Portuguese-speaking world. Distinguished guests, including the Boston area Consuls of Brazil, Cabo Verde and Portugal, members of the extended MAPS “family” and supporters from the business and professional communities, were greeted by the Brazilian drums of Grooversity as they took their seats for dinner in the elegant Royal Sonesta Hotel’s ballroom. Musical performances by Sonia Bettencourt, accompanied by Jose Iglesias and Anthony Ferreira, and Gutty Duarte, with band members Kiki Barbosa e Danny Carvalho set the mood for the evening that ran until midnight with an after party with DJ Melo, from DNJ Entertainment.