2021 HUMAN RIGHTS DAY AWARDEES
Helena DaSilva Hughes
Executive Director of the Immigrants’ Assistance Center, Inc. in New Bedford, MA. Ms. Hughes has been creating and implementing services based on the immigrant communities needs for over 34 years. She is active in domestic and international advocacy for immigrants, appearing before local, state-wide and U.S. Congressional hearings. In 2006, she developed and implemented the first information exchange on forcibly repatriated Portuguese citizens between the governments of the US and Portugal, expanding the program in 2008 to include the Cape Verdean government.A frequent lecturer at colleges and universities, She has been the keynote speaker at various conferences in Washington, D.C., the Azores, and Lisbon, Portugal on the impact of deportation on U.S. families.
Over the years, Ms. Hughes has responded to the particular needs of undocumented immigrant youth by developing personalized guidance, cross-cultural language learning, citizenship and civic involvement programs for middle school and high school students, as well as educating law enforcement about risks unique to these students. Ms. Hughes serves on several boards and councils: including the trustee of Southcoast Health System, New Bedford Economic Development Council, the New Bedford Workforce Investment Board, the Governor’s Advisory Council on Immigrants and Refugees, and Attorney General Maura Healey’s Advisory Council on New Americans.
She is co-founder of Our Sister’s School, an all-girls middle school for low-income New Bedford-area students. IAC under the leadership of Helena Da Silva Hughes has advocated for Covid Equity, Police Reform, at the state and local levels. IAC is also taking a leading role in securing housing for Afghan Refugees and services. Ms. Hughes is leading a coalition of service providers and for this, she on behalf of IAC is receiving the Human Rights Award for advocating for the rights to asylum and nationality on the part of an organization.
Founder of New Bedford Health Initiative. The New Bedford Health Initiative (NBHI) is a Community Health Organization focused on improving Health Equity for one of our city’s most vulnerable populations. Providing health necessities such as haircuts, health checks, minor wound care, care kits, a listening ear, clothing, and winter essentials – the team has been able to practically meet the needs of hundreds.
For the last three years, our team has had the tremendous privilege of serving the needs of our community including children, adults, and seniors, and has partnered with various organizations including Boston’s Jubilee Christian Church to also service areas in Boston. After years of participating in community volunteer work, Cynthia Delmas founded this organization in 2018 with the sole goal of improving health outcomes for those in her city. Coupled with a passion for healthcare, health equity, and servicing, NBHI was birthed.”
For starting an organization that focuses on the right to a quality life and dignity in living, Cynthia Delmas is being given this award in the category of youth/young adult organization.
Retired as President and CEO from First Citizens Federal Credit Union in January of 2020. A long-time leader in the financial community, he has worked with many communities, business, and civic organizations. Peter is a collaborator in efforts around education, business, and non-profits especially working for those who needed help the most. Peter could have gone into retirement, sat back, and dealt with his health issues, which he has been battling for a few years, but he chose not.
It would have been considered a time for self-care and rest and no one would have questioned him. However, that’s not how Peter along with his wife Robin, live their lives. With retirement came the timing of the Covid-19 pandemic. With his years of service and experience, he didn’t sit back but moved forward and continued to work continuously in every collaborative effort that arose. To be a stakeholder addressing issues of the homeless, evictions and rent increases, food insecurities, testing, and vaccinations, even weeding at the community garden at the Sister Rose shelter. His leadership and experience brought people together, informed others, and pushed for answers. Even though at times making meetings meant listening and talking and sending notes while he was in Boston receiving treatments. He continued to be a part of not just listening but leading.
Peter would be the first to tell you he couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to do all that he’s being given credit for without so many partners, especially his wife Robin. What he doesn’t see is that so many others continue to be mentored, tutored,and educated by his influence. It’s about what we do together that lasts and will make the difference. It’s not about who gets the credit, but who gets the help needed.
For partnering and providing funding and resources to many community projects. For mentoring and tutoring many through his knowledge and good works. For giving tirelessly of himself for the betterment of others. For leadership during Covid 19 pandemic and the housing crisis. Peter Muise is the 2021 Human Rights Day Recipient in the category of Individual for Advocacy on Human Rights