An exciting evening of inspiring award recipients, cultural entertainment, glamorous red carpet arrival, online silent auction, and an elegant banquet helped the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) raise $154,000 at the nonprofit organization’s 2022 Awards Gala in Cambridge on April 9.
MAPS presented its Person of the Year Award to Portuguese-American Gilda M. Nogueira, President and C.E.O. of the East Cambridge Savings Bank. Nogueira was honored for her all-American successful and inspirational journey from a young Portuguese immigrant to CEO of a prominent bank like East Cambridge Savings.
Over her 40-year career at the bank, she worked her way up from being a part-time teller, while still attending Somerville High School, to her current leadership position–in a field that traditionally was run mostly by men. East Cambridge is one of only a handful of Massachusetts banks led by a female chief executive, and it also has high percentages of women in leadership positions throughout its workforce.
Addressing the audience of more than 320 community leaders, entrepreneurs, public officials, and MAPS staff and volunteers, Nogueira thanked MAPS for the recognition and highlighted the “shared immigrant experiences of hard work and sacrifice.”
“My story is the same as that of so many immigrants,” said Nogueira, who was introduced to the stage by MAPS Executive Director, Paulo Pinto, MPA. “I was an 8-year-old child brought to the United States for ‘opportunity’. My parents, my Mom, who is also here tonight, are the story of the ‘immigrant sacrifice’; moving to a country foreign in so many ways – in culture, language, and way of life. As immigrants who have successfully integrated and unified in support, we are all extremely fortunate and blessed to be in a position to help others.”
Debora Guimaraes, a Brazilian-American community leader and volunteer, received the MAPS Manuel N. Coutinho Outstanding Volunteer Award. She is the founder of the Share Your Love Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides educational programs to families living below the poverty line in Brazil, while also providing guidance and support to Boston-area youth and their families seeking to access post-Secondary education.
Guimaraes was 17 when she immigrated to the US to complete her post-secondary education. Despite many challenges, including her undocumented status at the time, she persisted for many years, finally receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, then a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Boston University. She was welcomed to the stage by Anne-Marie Coutinho Moore, daughter of the late Manuel N. Coutinho.
“Like MAPS, I always believed that education was a contributing factor that could make myself, and our Portuguese-speaking community, active participants in American Society,” said Guimaraes. “I dedicate this award to the first-generation students I have the honor to support through their college preparation and application, the families we serve in Brazil, the selfless volunteers and donors of Share Your Love, my dear parents, my husband, and my sweet daughter Hannah. You all inspire me to continue this work.”
Cabo-Verdean American Julia Evora was introduced by Joshua Fidalgo, son of the late Jorge Fidalgo, who presented her with the MAPS Jorge Fidalgo Community Service Award in recognition of her 11 years as Coordinator of the MAPS Senior Center in Cambridge.
Beloved by all who came in contact with her, Evora worked tirelessly to provide enjoyable, interesting social and educational activities for Center visitors – keeping them engaged and thriving. As Senior Center Coordinator, she also provided outreach and case management, arranged healthy, culturally appropriate meals, organized parties, field trips, arts and crafts, health and consumer presentations, and much more.
“I want to thank Paulo Pinto, the MAPS Board, and everyone here tonight for this recognition,” said Evora. “Most of all, I want to thank my dear seniors. I learned so much during my time at the Senior Center, and there was so much love.” Reflecting on several other careers that she’s enjoyed, including her current Dorchester-based catering business, she said, “Being the Senior Center Coordinator was the best part of my life.”
Executive Director Paulo Pinto 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.
“Tonight, we celebrate Spring and the hope that comes with new beginnings,” said Pinto. “It’s also a wonderful coincidence that we are honoring three amazing women who inspire us with their leadership, compassion, and generosity, and perfectly exemplify the importance of new beginnings. On behalf of the nearly 15,000 clients that we served in 2021 and the many more we will serve in the future, I want to extend our deepest appreciation to all of you for rising with us and helping us fulfill our mission.”
The MAPS 2022 Awards Gala was once more sponsored at the highest level by Dunkin’ franchisees the Cafua, Couto, Serpa, and Sardinha families.
Representing the group of Dunkin’ sponsors, Salvi Couto, President and Principal of the Couto Management Group, took to the stage to present the Diamond Sponsor Greeting.
“On behalf of all the Dunkin’ Diamond Presenting Sponsor franchises and families, thank you MAPS for always being there and continuing to serve so many immigrant families in so many ways,” said Couto. “We are very glad to support your mission, and we would like to also encourage other businesses to partner with MAPS and sponsor this beautiful Gala. We are very proud that MAPS runs on Dunkin.”
The fundraising event was also sponsored by the East Cambridge Savings Bank and the Joe & Dorothy Chaves Foundation (Emerald); Accutronics, Inc. and Naveo Credit Union (Platinum); Gilead Sciences and the Nogueira Family (Gold); Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Silver); Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge Printing Company, Cambridge Savings Bank, Cruz Companies, Eastern Bank, and Rocco’s Restaurant and Bar (Bronze).
From its glamorous Red Carpet reception to its awards ceremony, the black-tie-optional Gala was a festive evening punctuated with entertainment from the Portuguese-speaking world.
Following the cocktail reception, the distinguished guests were welcomed to the Boston Marriott Cambridge’s ballroom by the warm sounds and rhythms of Brazil, performed by Fernando Holz and Paulo Danay, and greeted by the evening’s co-hosts, Susan Pacheco, President of the MAPS Board of Directors, and Carlos Mattos, Manager of the MAPS HIV/STI Prevention and Screening Program.
After the scrumptious banquet, Cabo-Verdean American Deu Almeida-Tawo delighted with her smooth and delicate vocals and Cabo-Verdean ballads.
She was introduced to the stage by Mark Chaves, co-founder of Emerald sponsors the Joe & Dorothy Chaves Foundation, who shared a few remarks.
“As many of you know, our family started our foundation 12 years ago in memory of my late father, Jose Chaves,” he recalled. “We love supporting MAPS because this organization, like my father, is dedicated to helping Portuguese-speaking immigrants and their families to thrive, learn, and often become voting citizens in their new communities.”
Following the Awards ceremony, guests flocked to the dance floor at the Gala’s after-party which ran until midnight under the command of DJ Adilson. Gala photos, videos, and other information can be found at maps-inc.org/gala2022.
MAPS has served the Portuguese-speaking communities of Massachusetts and others since 1970. The organization offers a wide range of free health and social services through its six offices in Cambridge, Somerville, Brighton, Dorchester, Framingham, and Lowell. To learn more, visit maps-inc.org.