Two East Boston residents and community heroes will be among 28 people honored for their contributions to the community at the Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) 36th Annual Community Awards Dinner on Friday, October 29 at the Seaport World Trade Center.
Eastie’s APAC director Amy Lima and longtime community advocate Joyce Hamilton Cagiano will both receive awards at the gala which will feature a special keynote address by Vickie Kennedy – the widow of the longtime U.S. Senator Edward M. Kennedy. Sen. Kennedy often called the “Champion of the Poor” was a tireless advocate for all ABCD programs and initiatives that promoted opportunity and social justice to disadvantaged children and families here and throughout the city.
For over 14 years, East Boston resident Amy Lima has dedicated her time and energy to helping underprivileged families in Eastie, the neighborhood where she was born and raised. Lima has long worked to fulfill ABCD’s mission in one of the most needy and multi-ethnic neighborhoods of Boston.
The size of Lima’s tiny office in Eastie contrasts with the extent of the APAC’s huge mission. As the Executive Director of East Boston APAC, she ensures that thousands of low-income families have access to crucial services, including pre-school and after-school programs; fuel assistance; summer jobs for youth; EITC; senior programs and food pantry.
Lima joined ABCD 14 years ago as a SummerWorks counselor and WinterWorks program manager. After graduating from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Sociology/Anthropology in 2001, she returned to the APAC as a Senior Social Worker and Program Manager.
Five years later she was named Executive Director. She succeeded the legendary John White who is highly applauded for his long-term commitment and service to the Eastie community. He served as a mentor for Lima and is very proud of her accomplishments.
“I’m committed to the agency mission. I went from SummerWorks counselor to APAC director in 14 years. I worked hard and invested myself at ABCD and I am very grateful for the opportunities,” said Lima. “I’m honored to be chosen for this award!”
ABCD’s top leadership praises Lima’s enthusiastic and tireless work.
“East Boston families depend on the APAC for so much and Amy (Lima) makes sure they get what they need to move forward,” said ABCD President/CEO John Drew. “Her commitment, intelligence and perseverance make a difference every day for the diverse, dynamic East Boston community. We are very proud of her.”
Joyce Hamilton Cagiano staunchly believes that to be a true change agent, one should not wear many hats but wear one hat very well. For serving as a vocal advocate for those who often go unheard, the East Boston APAC chose to honor Cagiano at this year’s dinner.
Cagiano, an Eastie resident, has been committed to the empowerment and advancement of the community for years, despite a difficult upbringing. Raised in a poor home with unfit parents, she easily could have succumbed to the perils of her surroundings. Yet her resolve to support the most disadvantaged in her community is driven by an innate sense of purpose triggered by a traumatic loss. After the sudden death of her six and a half month old grandson, Joyce was determined to channel her resulting pain and anger towards more productive means.
Motivated by her own experience with agoraphobia she formed and founded Phobic United to raise awareness about the plight of those who are confined to their homes. Her personal connection to the issue makes her a passionate and effective spokesman for those who often suffer in silence.
She frequently testifies before the legislature about the litany of challenges facing the home-bound, such as a lack of proper health care, stable employment or other means of assistance, and faceless bureaucracies that provide more frustration that support. Above all, she gives voice to a population that receives little public attention.
“Through her advocacy on behalf of our community’s elderly and home-bound population, she shines a bright light on a public policy challenge that is not often talked about,” said Director of the East Boston APAC Amy Lima. “During her lifetime, she has given a sense of hope and empowerment to hundreds of people in our city through her ongoing efforts on their behalf.”