By John Lynds
Veronica Robles, Woman of the Year
Veronica Robles has tirelessly worked to bridge the gap between the various cultures that all call East Boston home.
Over the years, through her Cultural Center on McClellan Highway, Robles has become a regular fixture in Eastie and has emerged as a community leader that has broken down barriers between Eastie’s Latino population and non-Latino population through art, music, festivals and activism.
For this, Veronica Robles is the East Boston Times 2016 Woman of the Year.
During any given week Robles is hard at work promoting harmony between cultures and has embraced residents seeking to learn more about not only her Mexican heritage but the cultures of various ethnic groups in the community.
An accomplished singer by trade, Robles expanded her love for not only her own heritage but the love of all cultures at the Cultural Center. Through dance classes, music workshops, numerous celebratory festivals throughout the year, Robles has encouraged new comers and longtime residents alike to get involved in not only the exercise of sharing their life experiences and struggles but to celebrate the rich diversity that has made Eastie a great place to live, work and do business.
This past summer, Robles launched a special celebration that became a big hit with residents at the East Boston Farmers Market.
Each Wednesday at the Farmers Market on Lewis Mall, Robles and her Cultural Center launched the ‘Dancing Elotes’ project.
The project included a bike-cart selling elotes, traditionally prepared corn served on the street in Mexico, as a literal and conceptual vehicle for cross-cultural culinary, dance and sculptural experiences at the Farmers Market.
Each week, shoppers at the Farmers Market were invited to help decorate a sculpture that became a symbol of peace and unity in the community.
With funding by the New England Foundation for the Arts’ Creative City Program and from The Barr Foundation, Robles was also able to provide summer jobs for Eastie youth through the project. The youth were responsible for making, preparing and selling the corn at each Farmers Market.
Veronica Robles, East Boston Times 2016 Woman of the Year.
Albert ‘Buddy’ Mangini, Man of the Year
Albert ‘Buddy’ Mangini is a man that has defined what it means to ‘give back’ to the community of East Boston.
For decades, Mangini’s work with youth organizations, scholarship funds and a whole host of other philanthropic activities in Eastie has been unmatched.
For this, Albert ‘Buddy’ Mangini is the East Boston Times 2016 Man of the Year.
Recently elected as the East Boston Chamber of Commerce’s new President, Mangini has in some way or another been active in nearly every event throughout the year in Eastie.
As a longtime face of the local Kiwanis Club of East Boston, Mangini has organized the club’s annual Senior Picnic, Bicycle Safety Day, Kiwanis One Day of Service, clean ups of the Belle Isle Marsh, the Reading Program at several elementary schools in Eastie, the Food Pantry Drive, and the special needs group holiday event.
The people that Mangini has helped over the years and the list of accomplishments in the community are both impressive and indicative of the type of community leader Mangini has become in Eastie. When listed, many are astonished by how many things Mangini contributes his time to in Eastie. Many residents, far younger than Mangini, have admitted on more than one occasion that they could not keep up with the feverish pace he has set in his own life.
“He runs circles around all of us and many of us are half his age,” Marisa DiPietro once said of Mangini. “He’s got such energy and spirit.”
Mangini, the newly elected Chamber President for 2017, is committed to moving the Chamber forward and building on its successes. As a long time member of the East Boston Chamber of Commerce many have said he is more than qualified for the position.
In addition to his role in the planning of many Chamber activities, his accomplishments in Eastie community activities over the years are awe inspiring. Among the many memberships and titles Mangini holds are: General Chairman of the Columbus Day Parade for the last 25 years, member of the East Boston Kiwanis since 1994, the East Boston Pride Day Committee, the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club, the East Boston YMCA, and the Bay State Chapter of Freedoms Foundation. Buddy is President of the Holy Name Society of the Sacred Heart Parish in East Boston, member of the Semper Avanti Lodge of the Sons of Italy, and Financial Secretary for the Saint Francis Council Knights of Columbus.