Mayor Awards Community Champion Award to Rita Lara

Last week, Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) hosted We Are Boston 2020: From Resilience to Equity on November 19, 2020. The annual end-of-the year reception celebrates Boston immigrants and their contributions to the City. This year’s virtual program focused on honoring frontline workers and immigrant-serving nonprofits for their tireless work throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. It also highlighted how together we can move towards equity for all residents.

The Mayor awarded the 2020 “We Are Boston Community Champion Award” to Rita Lara, Executive Director of Maverick Landing Community Services, for her instrumental role in the coronavirus response.

The Mayor awarded the 2020 “We Are Boston Community
Champion Award” to Rita Lara, Executive Director of Maverick Landing Community Services, for her instrumental role in the coronavirus response.

Lara organized a collaborative of East Boston organizations to provide relief and food to those in need, including those who do not qualify for any benefits.

“I’m really deeply honored to receive this Community Champion Award from the City of Boston especially during this moment in time,” said Lara. “I want to thank the Office for Immigrant Advancement for its tireless work amplifying the voice and representation for the immigrant community, which is one of our most vulnerable communities right now. There’s been so much work to do and the MOIA has done it with steadfast commitment and deep integrity. I also want to thank the Office of Food Access in the City of Boston. They’ve done an amazing job in increasing access to food for immigrants and for other people in need. We’re struggling in ways that we have not seen before this moment in time. We’ve put community interests over anything else and we need to continue to do that. I’m really deeply grateful to all the people who give their heart and soul to creating a more socially and economically and racially just community, especially for immigrants, they are our bedrock.”

Mayor Walsh said this year, due to the ongoing pandemic, the city and its residents have been tested in every way imaginable.

“Our immigrant friends and neighbors have played a vital role in our response to the COVID-19 crisis, here in Boston and all across the United States,” said Walsh. “But I’ve always said that a city shows its true colors during the hard times. We’ve got a long road ahead of us, we’re going to keep supporting one another, and we’re going to keep fighting to protect the wellbeing, the rights, and the dignity of everyone who calls our City home.”

Before the reception MOIA hosted workshops with corporate sponsors and community partners exploring the roots of systemic racism and ways to build inclusive cultures in the workplace and everyday life.

“Our work to root out systemic racism and elevate the power and agency of residents, workers and families who have been excluded from the City’s prosperity begins with each of us,” said Chief of Equity Dr. Karilyn Crockett, the keynote speaker for the reception. “Opportunities to learn together, to strategize, organize and advocate is the bedrock of a just democracy.”

Thirty-three corporate sponsors funded this year’s We Are Boston. Their donations totaling more than $159,000 will go towards capacity-building for immigrant-serving nonprofits.

“Thank you to the Mayor and my colleagues at City Hall for prioritizing our immigrant communities,” said MOIA’s Director Yusufi Vali. “Thank you to our nonprofits for helping families survive this pandemic, to our sponsors and those who bought tickets for your heart and generosity, and to our immigrant residents for keeping Boston diverse and making it this wonderful City that we love.”

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