When the COVID-19 pandemic hit many leaders in the nonprofit sector took on roles in the community that they could have never imagined. Executive Director of Maverick Landing Community Services Rita Lara was one of these leaders that has been tested in every way imaginable.
Lara’s work with the low-income and immigrant-service nonprofit throughout the pandemic to create equity for Eastie residents devastated by loss of income and food insecurity due COVID was unmatched. For this Rita Lara is the East Boston Times 2020 Woman of the Year.
With Eastie hit particularly hard by COVID with its high infection rates, Lara worked tirelessly to make sure residents struggling to pay their bills, rent, or put food on the table did not fall through the cracks. Lara, who was the 2020 “We Are Boston Community Champion Award” recipient from Mayor Martin Walsh, was instrumental in helping coordinate community groups and mount a unified coronavirus response.
Throughout the pandemic 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. Lara became a citywide symbol of how neighborhood collaboration played a vital role in the response to the COVID-19 crisis, here in Boston and all across the United States. Lara fought tirelessly since last spring to protect the wellbeing, the rights, and the dignity of everyone who calls Eastie home.
Lara worked closely with not only local community groups to help struggling residents daily but also with the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement (MOIA) With the help of MOIA Lara was able to amplify the voice and representation for the immigrant community throughout the pandemic, which is one of Eastie’s most vulnerable communities right now. “We’re struggling in ways that we have not seen before this moment in time,” said Lara in November. “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.” When she was named a “We Are Boston Community Champion Award” recipient, MOIA”s Director Yusufi Vali thanked Lara for helping families survive this pandemic.