Previous Releases

November 2, 2009

Census 2010


(Cambridge) – Brazilian, Cape Verdean and Portuguese community leaders across Massachusetts have united to form a Portuguese-Speaking Complete Count Committee (PSCCC) for the 2010 US Census. The goal is to seek more representation and resources for their population groups and for the state as a whole.
The PSCCC is holding a kick-off Press Conference for its public awareness campaign for English-, Portuguese- and Cape Verdean Creole-speaking media.   PSCCC leaders and other key individuals involved in the Census count will be there to speak and take questions.  The Press Conference will be conducted in English and Portuguese.   Please see the details below:

Kick-off Press Conference for  the Portuguese-Speaking Complete Count Committee for the 2010 US Census.
WHO WILL BE THERE: PSCCC Members, Secretary of State William Galvin, US Census Bureau Regional Director Kathleen Ludgate, State Legislators, Representatives of the Consulates of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, Community Leaders, Religious Leaders, Businessmen and Businesswomen.  Interview opportunities will take place after the press conference.
WHERE: Hearing Room B-2, at the Massachusetts State House.
WHEN: Thursday, November 5, 2009, from 11 to 12 am.
RSVP: Media members, please contact Deolinda Daveiga at (617) 864-7600 or by Wednesday, November 4 to let her know that you are attending.

For more information about the PSCCC, please visit our Web page at

September 21, 2009

Young Brazilian Women Awarded Grant To Do Community Work

     Rafaella Aleixo, Sidna Oliveira and Cecilia Oliveira received a check of $4,000 from the Somerville Health Foundation on behalf of the Youth Brazilian Group, during a Grantee Reception on Wednesday, September 16, 2009. The funds, the first for the newly formed branch of the Brazilian Women’s Group, will be used to develop and implement a series of workshop on young women mental and physical health issues. “We are very excited”, said Cecilia, 10, a 4th grader at the Argenziano School, and her sister Sidna, 13, a 7th grader at the Winter Hill Community School. They both helped Regina Bertholdo, the group’s mentor and founder, to write the grant. “We are delighted with the chance to reach out and do community involvement with young Brazilian women who many times are left out,” said Regina. Rafaella Aleixo, 22, a Senior at Salem State College, presented the Group to the Somerville Health Foundation Board of Directors. “This grant will allow us to be more visible in the community and therefore to inform and recruit other young women interested in getting more involved with their communities”, said Aleixo.

August 26, 2009

Brazilian Community mourns the loss of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy

     The Brazilian Women's Group joins Senator Edward Kennedy's family in prayers at this sad and difficult time for our country, our state and the Kennedy family.
     Senator Edward Kennedy has been the most significant political figure in the fight for the rights of the poor, victims of injustice, the persecuted, the elderly, immigrants, and for all human beings.
     At the same time that we mourn Sen. Kennedy's departure with great sadness, we also take pride and gain strengthen from his example and fierce disposition to speak up for the neediest. And although we know it will be almost impossible to replace Sen. Kennedy’s stature as a leader and public figure, we hope that people from all walks of life that Sen. Kennedy helped will step up to keep the Senator's work alive.

August 25, 2009

Portuguese Speakers Launch Statewide Complete Count Committee for 2010 US Census

     Seeking more representation and resources for their population group and for the state as a whole, Brazilian, Cape Verdean and Portuguese community leaders across Massachusetts have united to form a Portuguese-Speaking Complete Count Committee (PSCCC) for the 2010 US Census.
     “If we do our job, we will make sure that every Portuguese speaker in Massachusetts gets counted,” said Paulo Pinto, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS).  MAPS, a nonprofit health and social service provider in greater Boston, Lowell and Framingham, organized and hosted the first PSCCC meeting at its Cambridge Office on August 20.  Nearly 30 community representatives from nonprofit organizations, the Census Bureau, the media and other key positions attended the meeting or joined it by teleconference.
     “It was inspiring to have so many dedicated individuals coming together and committing to make this the most successful Census ever,” said Pinto. 
     At its inaugural meeting, the PSCCC honed in on several key messages that members want to get across to Portuguese speakers for the Census, which will attempt to count every US resident in the spring of 2010.
     First, “Everyone should be counted and not be afraid,” said Eduardo Siqueira, a Board member of the Brazilian Immigrant Center, and an Assistant Professor at UMass/Lowell.   
     The committee pointed out that a “complete count” is crucial so that Portuguese speakers, and all Massachusetts residents, have full representation in Congress.  A full count also has many other benefits, including ensuring that all communities receive enough government funding for vital services and programs that range from highway construction to education, public safety, health and social services.
     Committee members agreed they especially need to inform the community on how to answer the Census questions that refer to race and ethnicity.  The PSCCC endorsed this plan for Portuguese speakers:

  • Question 8 (or question # 5 for persons 2 and beyond in the household):  Check “No - not of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin.”
  • Question 9 (or question # 6 for persons 2 and beyond in the household):  Check ONLY “Some Other Race” and write in your ethnic/ancestral background such as Brazilian, Cape Verdean, Portuguese etc. in the boxes below.   

     “According to US Census data, the Portuguese-speaking community doesn’t exist—we are invisible because we are either miscounted or not counted at all,” said Pinto.  “We are not as lucky as our friends in the Hispanic community to have our own category on the forms.” 
     Unofficial estimates of Portuguese speakers in Massachusetts range from 800,000 to 1 million, which would make them the state’s largest linguistic minority. But many in the large and growing Brazilian population are counted as Hispanic/Latino, although Spanish is not their native language.  Other Portuguese speakers from Portugal, Cape Verde and other African countries, are scattered among White, Black and other categories.
     “Ten years ago, we had a lot of Portuguese speakers who got counted as Latinos,” said Pinto.  “The Latino population got a huge increase in the Census, but we still don’t have a picture of our community.”
     Edirson Paiva, a community member who also publishes the Brazilian Times newspaper, said a movement to boycott the Census—partly because of fears that undocumented immigrants will be reported to immigration authorities—has caused dissent in the Brazilian community.  “It’s complicated for the Brazilians,” he said.
      Census representatives Alexandra Barker and Miryam Wiley emphasized that Census takers operate under a strict confidentiality code upheld by the nation’s highest courts, and personal information obtained in the Census cannot be shared with anyone including police, FBI or Homeland Security.  The PSCCC members strongly opposed the boycott idea. 
      According to the Census staff, assistance guides are being printed in many languages including Portuguese, even though the Census forms are not available in Portuguese.  The Boston-based Consulates of Brazil, Cape Verde and Portugal are already educating their constituents about the importance of the Census, and Census employees are also working closely with schools throughout Massachusetts.  The PSCCC agreed to work with a variety of Census partners as well as with youth as they try to reach all Portuguese speakers.
     Organizations such as MAPS, the Brazilian Women’s Group and the Immigrants’ Assistance Center in New Bedford will be acting as Census assistance centers next spring to help Portuguese speakers and others fill out the forms.  They are also helping recruit community members for Census jobs.  Census representatives said forms will be mailed to every household beginning in late February 2010, to be mailed back by mid-April. Census takers will begin visiting households that have not replied by May.
      The next monthly PSCCC meeting will take place on Sept. 24 from 3-5 pm at MAPS. The group also plans to hold a kick-off breakfast press conference on Sept. 15 to publicize its efforts in the media.    Meanwhile, nine newly formed subcommittees will begin meeting, including Media; Faith-Based Community; Southeastern Regional; MetroWest Regional; Northeast Regional; South Shore Regional; Youth; Resources (to serve as the voice for the Committee and as an information center for other local complete count committees); and Outreach. 
     Other interested community members are invited to join the group anytime.  More information is available by calling MAPS at (617) 864-7600, and a Committee web page will also be available soon at

      Individuals who attended the first Committee meeting included:

  • Paulo Pinto – MAPS
  • Lois Josimovich – MAPS
  • Anabela Quelha – MAPS
  • Norma Malkiel – MAPS
  • Renan Leahy – MAPS
  • Donna Landry-Rodrigues – MAPS
  • Julia Jardim Evora – MAPS
  • Martha Vasconcellos – MAPS
  • Maria Matos – MAPS
  • Paula Bronzoni – MAPS
  • Victor Do Couto – MAPS Board
  • Marcony Almeida – MAPS Board and MIRA
  • Liz Chaves – MAPS Board
  • Alexandra Barker – US Census
  • Miryam Wiley – US Census
  • Roberta Pinheiro – Framingham School Dept
  • Heloísa Galvão – Brazilian Women’s Group
  • José Ferrão – United Way of Mass. Bay and Merrimack Valley
  • Josefina Silva – Georgetown Savings Bank
  • Carlos da Silva – Brazilian Total Assistance
  • Eduardo Siqueira – Brazilian Immigrant Center
  • Edirson Paiva – Brazilian Times
  • Geraldo Corredor da Paz  – Photographer
  • Regina Bertholdo – Brazilian Women’s Group, Somerville Parents
  • Ilton Lisboa – Framingham
  • José Ronaldo Ferreira – O Favorito
  • Helena Marques  –  Immigrants Assistance Center, New Bedford 
  • Shirley Farber – Bate Papo TV & Magazine
  • Adalberto Teixeira – City of Boston

April 30, 2009

Somerville Community Advocate and Framingham High Senior win 2009 Awards

     The Brazilian Women’s Group is proud to announce Sylvia Cardim and Kevin Figueiredo as the winners of the Mangeca Fanghaenel Community Award and the Youth Leadership Award, respectively. Sylvia, who is a Housing and Benefits Advocate at CAAS, and Kevin, a senior at Framingham High School and the president of the student group Desafio, will be receiving their awards at the Brazilian Women’s Group’s 14th anniversary celebration on May 16th.
     The BWG is a volunteer-run organization of Brazilian immigrant women, whose mission is promoting the empowerment of all community members and the advancement of the rights of immigrant women. The BWG has promoted discussion groups, seminars and meetings around topics such as education, immigrants’ rights and women’s issues, and has launched civic participation campaigns.
     Sylvia Cardim emigrated from Brazil to San Diego in 1973, and moved to Somerville 10 years later. She and husband pianist Alfredo Cardim are packing to return to Brazil in the next few months. They plan to divide their time between Rio de Janeiro and Somerville from now on. One co-worker says: “Sylvia has provided hundreds of immigrants with information, assistance and support in their struggles to have a reasonable housing situation. She empowers her clients so that they will be able to move forward on their own. She has become their ally and trusted advisor not only about housing problems but about every situation an immigrant might face.” Sylvia was “touched” when she first learned about the award.
     Kevin Figueiredo, 18, had a quite different experience when she landed in Framingham four years ago. “I did not like it at all, I used to cry everyday and beg my parents to take me back (to Brazil).” Because a friend had told her family that she could only register for school at the beginning of the school year, she stayed home for six months and “hated it.” Once school started, Kevin turned her life around and became a successful and participative student admired by her peers and teachers alike. With her parents back in Brazil, she now lives with a 21 year-old sister and works several hours a week in a restaurant to maintain herself.
     “Kevin is an excellent student who has given all of her energy to her studies, learning English, and living in the USA without her parents and family,” says Genoveffa Grieci, head of the Bilingual Department at Framingham High School. “As the President of Desafio, she has energized the affinity group to help Brazilian students both in the newcomer and standard curriculum adjust to life in the United States, and manage their dual cultures. She is very humble, she does not look for approval, certificates, or a handout. Though she misses her family, she is appreciative of the opportunity that this school has given her, thus the sacrifice of being away from her family will be worth it when she receives her diploma alone, as her family will not be able to travel from Brazil to see her. We are the ones who have benefited from her leadership, support, and resilience.” Kevin talks daily with her family in her home town of Divinolândia, Minas Gerais “By phone and I see them on camera. I miss them so much.” Besides having her parents, a brother and a sister in Brazil, she left behind two grandmothers, one great grandmother, and dozens of cousins.

February 25, 2009

BWG condemns first workplace raid of the Obama administration

     The Brazilian Women's Group is dismayed and shocked to learn of another ICE raid. It is inadmissible, disappointing and sad that the Obama administration marks its first 30 days in office with yet another raid in the work place. On February 24, 2009, at about 9 a.m. immigration officials stormed into an engine remanufacturing plant in Bellingham, Washington and arrested 28 workers, including 3 mothers, from Mexico, Honduras, and Guatemala. They were handcuffed and put into deportation proceedings.
     Mr. President, you were elected because you pledged change, we needed change and we believed you were different and that you would make a difference. We need just and humane immigration reform not enforcement that terrorizes our communities, divides our families, and hurts our neighborhoods and the economy. Stop the Raids Now!
     The Brazilian Women’s Group joins MIRA, FIRM and many community groups across the country to denounce this tragic enforcement tactic and urge you all to express your disagreement with and disbelief of the first worksite raid of the Obama administration.
     Call the White House at 202-456-2461 or fax a letter to the White House at 202-456-2461. Call the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano NOW - 202-282-8000

November 18, 2008


     The Brazilian Women’s Group (BWG) and the Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers (MAPS) will start offering free monthly Immigration Clinics at the MAPS Framingham office (24 Union Avenue, Suites 8 & 10) beginning Dec. 9, 2008. Attorney Joshua Paulin of the Offices of Joshua Paulin, who speaks Portuguese and English, will conduct the clinics from 6 to 8 pm.
     There is also a free clinic scheduled for Jan. 13, 2009. Appointments for all clinics can be made by calling (508) 397-9051.
     The Immigration Clinic program, a partnership between the two community organizations, started in May of 2007 at MAPS’ Allston office and has already benefitted about 100 people.
      “There is a great need for this kind of service and the BWG is thrilled to once more partner with MAPS to offer such a program,” said BWG President Heloisa Maria Galvão.
     MAPS Executive Director Paulo Pinto said, “The clinics will be a great addition to our Framingham office because they’ve been so successful in Allston, and there is such a large number of Brazilians in the MetroWest area seeking information and assistance about the complex American immigration system.”
     Free Immigration Clinics will continue to be offered at MAPS’ Allston office at 569 Cambridge St., with attorney Jill McCain from Immigration Advocates. The next Allston clinics will be held from 6 to 8 pm on Dec. 4, 2008, as well as on January 8 and Feb. 5, 2009. For an appointment, please call 617-787-0557, Ext. 15.
     Both MAPS and BWG are private, nonprofit organizations. MAPS provides health and social services to Portuguese speakers in Massachusetts through its six offices in greater Boston, Lowell and Framingham, while the Brazilian Women’s Group provides a variety of educational, cultural, grassroots advocacy and leadership development programs for the Brazilian community.

September 3, 2008

UMass Lowell’s TURI Awards $63,000 in Community Grants
Projects will raise awareness of the hazards of pesticides on lawns, lead use in fishing, toxics in cleaning, home building and renovations, and more

LOWELL, Mass. – The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell has awarded $64,000 in grant funding to nine Massachusetts community organizations. The projects will raise awareness about the hazards of toxic chemicals and encourage the selection of safer alternatives or methods.

“The variety of toxics covered under these grants, in addition to the depth of the projects, reflects the commitment I’ve seen in so many communities across the Commonwealth that are determined to create healthier neighborhoods and environments,” said TURI Community Program Manager Joy Onasch. “Leaders like these will make a difference for all of us.”

TURI awarded grants to the following nine organizations:
- Brazilian Women’s Group, Allston, $15,000. The group will implement the Natural Cleaning in the Brazilian Community Project to educate people who clean homes as well as residents about the hazards of household cleaners and help them convert to less toxic options made from safer ingredients.
- Wampanoag Tribe, Martha’s Vineyard, $15,000. Through its Lead-Free Vineyard Fishing project, the Wampanoag Tribe will promote and distribute non-lead weights made from alternative materials such as steel and natural stones. During the five-week Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby from Sept. 14 to Oct. 19 on Martha’s Vineyard, the Wampanoag Tribe will deliver educational materials about the dangers of lead to humans, fish and wildlife along with the alternative weights suitable for ocean fishing. Materials will also be available at local tackle shops.
- School Disinfection Workgroup, statewide project, $15,000. The workgroup will generate information about disinfection, sanitization and hand hygiene options to reduce the use of unnecessary disinfectants in schools. Since overuse of disinfectants can do more harm than good, easy-to-understand materials will be created about when it’s appropriate to disinfect and when it’s not. Materials will also be created for policymakers to encourage long-term change in schools.
- Viet-AID, Dorchester and Springfield, $7,000. TURI is funding the Viet-AID Healthy Floor Finisher Project for a third year. Viet-AID will expand its successful training program that raises awareness of flammable floor-finishing products and safer products to the Vietnamese community in Springfield. Viet-AID will create a training video about how to apply safer water-based products to encourage more Vietnamese workers across the state to make the switch.
- Center Pond Weed Project, Becket, $5,000. Rather than using hazardous chemical herbicides, the project will manually pull invasive weeds from Center Pond, a scenic, recreational lake in Becket. Specially trained cold water divers will eliminate the weeds as well as the need for chemicals in the future. The project will also educate other communities about the work and experiences so that others may reduce toxic chemical use in the same way.
- Townsend Conservation Commission, $4,000. Townsend will continue its Organic Lawn Care Project, which showcases to residents through “green” lawns at the Town Hall and library that organic lawn care methods work. In the program’s second year of TURI funding, it will expand its reach by partnering with the Nashua River Watershed Association and other Townsend municipal agencies to spread the message about organic lawn care.

TURI also offers a lower level of funding to encourage more community organizations to promote safer alternatives. TURI awarded the following organizations $1,000 each:
- Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA), Barre, offered scholarships to nine municipal employees or their contractors for the towns of Ayer, Barnstable, Carlisle, Cohasset, Orleans, Pepperell, Sandwich, Stoneham and Townsend to attend a full-day organic lawn and turf course last month in Dartmouth. Attendees learned about organic land management methods.
- Lowell Green Building Commission will implement a project to increase awareness among local residents and contractors of green building practices, focused on reducing toxics in homes. The commission will develop informational materials, mailings, posters and neighborhood group presentations.
- The Organic Mom in Berkley will conduct a lecture series, “Reducing the Use of Toxics in the Home Yard and Garden.” The free lecture series for the Berkley community will present experts speaking on composting and organic gardening.

For more information about the TURI Community Grant Program, visit or contact Joy Onasch, at or 978-934-4343. For more about the Toxics Use Reduction Institute, visit

November 2, 2007

Brazilian Women’s Group Receives Funding to Reduce the Use of Toxics in Housecleaning
Funding used to increase awareness about ways to reduce asthma and allergies

ALLSTON—The Brazilian Women's Group in Allston received a $1,000 community grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at UMass Lowell.
      Vide Verde, a project of the Brazilian Women’s Group, is on a mission to support Brazilian housecleaners in their professions while creating community and promoting healthy and environmentally-friendly methods. There is a concern among healthcare providers that the number of health issues such as allergies and asthma are rising among Brazilians who clean houses in the greater Boston area. The Brazilian Women’s Group and their Vide Verde Women’s Cooperative will develop materials about toxic household cleaning products and educate the Brazilian immigrant community about how to choose safer products in the upcoming year. Through a grant awarded by TURI, the Group will also assess and define the needs of the population, develop content, and design an outreach program for wide distribution.
      “The Vide Verde Women’s Co-Op is reaching a greater Boston community that will greatly benefit from this information,” commented TURI Community Program Manager Joy Onasch. “Informing the housecleaners about hazards associated with cleaners and more healthy alternatives will create a happier and healthier work force as well as healthier homes,” she continued.
      “Health and education are the most important assets in our community. Community participation and activism cannot happen if people are neither healthy nor educated. Our mission is community organizing and it starts right at the heart of the community, our homes and work places”, said Heloisa Maria Galvão, president of the Brazilian Women’s Group.

About the Brazilian Women’s Group
      The Brazilian Women’s Group is a volunteer-run grassroots organization made up of Brazilian women from different backgrounds and occupations, whose mission is to promote political and cultural awareness and to contribute to the development and self-sufficiency of the Brazilian community. The Group is in the process of carrying out a multi-year program to improve the health and working conditions of Brazilian housecleaners. As part of this program, a housecleaners’ cooperative, Vide Verde was formed and is focusing on the use of non-toxic cleaning products made with natural ingredients.

About the Toxics Use Reduction Institute
      The Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell provides the resources and tools to help Massachusetts companies and communities make the Commonwealth a safer place to live and work. Established by the State’s Toxics Use Reduction Act of 1989, TURI provides research, training, technical support, laboratory services, and grant programs to reduce the use of toxic chemicals while enhancing the economic competitiveness of businesses. To learn more, visit To learn more about the TURI Community Grant Program, visit, or contact Joy Onasch at 978-934-4343,