Below is a press release from the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers:
WILMINGTON, MA — A group of local community business leaders has been assisting low-income seniors who attend the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers’ (MAPS) Senior Center in Cambridge with weekly donations of culturally-appropriate meals and groceries since late March of 2020. So far, the group of 10 supporters has home-delivered more than 400 meals, at an estimated value of more than $6,000. The effort will continue until June and may be extended if the senior center remains suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the health and social services organization.
The charitable initiative was spearheaded by Walter Sousa, owner of Inman Square Wine and Spirits and Joe Cerqueira, co-owner of Rocco’s Restaurant and Bar in Wilmington, MA, where the meals are prepared.
“We have a lot of love for these seniors,” said Joe Cerqueira. “When we heard that the center would be closing to the public, we felt a responsibility to step up and try to make their lives at home a little easier during this challenging period.”
“The MAPS Senior Center brings so much happiness and comfort to our seniors,” said Walter Sousa. “We know it wasn’t easy for them and for MAPS to have to suspend it, and it gives us great joy to be able to bring people together in helping them.”
The two longtime friends and supporters of MAPS were soon joined by several other community business leaders and supporters: Salvi Couto, co-owner of Rocco’s Restaurant and Bar and CEO of Couto Management Group; Filomena Cabral Fitch of Filomena’s Hair Salon; Rick and Salete Fernandes, owners of a local construction company; Rui Domingos, CEO of the MIT Credit Union; Cambridge City Councillor Tim Toomey; MAPS Executive Director Paulo Pinto; Manny Silva, retired business owner; and Michael Carreiro, CEO of Auxzillium IT Services & Solutions.
The MAPS Senior Center provides case management, nutritious lunches, social, recreational and educational activities, and much more to over 40 Portuguese, Brazilian, and Cabo Verdean seniors from Monday to Thursday on the second floor of MAPS’ Cambridge office at 1046 Cambridge St., Cambridge, MA. It was suspended on March 12, 2020, due to the pandemic. Since then, MAPS staff have been in regular communication with its members to ensure their well-being.
As part of its coronavirus relief efforts, the health and social services organization recently launched the Unity and Action campaign to raise funds to continue providing emergency gift cards to vulnerable seniors, as well as families and individuals in need of food and medical supplies due to shutdown-related unemployment and lack of access to the social safety net. MAPS is encouraging the community to donate and learn more about the campaign by visiting facebook.com/maps.org or maps-inc.org/donate.
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