The 12th annual We Are Boston Gala celebrated the city’s diverse and inclusive immigrant communities at the Westin Waterfront Hotel on Nov. 30. Mayor Marty Walsh, along with the Office of Immigrant Advancement, welcomed more than 1,000 proud Bostonians with Caribbean-themed festivities.
Baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez, who helped the Boston Red Sox secure the 2004 World Series Championship title, received a standing ovation as he took the stage with emcee Maria Stephanos, WCVB anchor.
“Coming from the Dominican Republic through baseball to the land of opportunity, I’m here today to support this cause because this country opened doors to people like me who didn’t have anything. It was really difficult but for me, being humble, I had it made,” Martinez said. “My success and my lifestyle would make no sense if I wasn’t grateful for what I got. I think I’m supposed to give back.”
Established in 1998, the Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement works to achieve social good for immigrant communities across the city. Caribbean immigrants, who come from one of the largest regions of origin for new Bostonians, make up 15 percent of Boston’s population.
“Tonight we recognize and acknowledge the contribution our Caribbean communities have made across Boston,” said Alejandra St. Guillen, director of Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Advancement. “Members of the Caribbean communities are playing central roles in the revitalization of the city.”
Walsh took the stage to announce this year’s Youth Action Awardees. Roxbury resident Ayub Tahlil and Dorchester resident Deina Da Costa Lopes were honored for their exemplary perseverance, courage and contributions to their community.
The Immigrant Advancement office also convened the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund with the help of private and public organizations to help protect immigrants’ legal rights and secure pathways to citizenship.
“Twenty-eight percent of the population of our city was born in another country. Forty-eight percent of the people who live in the city are first generation like I am,” Walsh said. “It’s important that we understand our country was founded on the belief everyone has the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Immigrant Advancement office will host another Citizenship Day this year and add more free legal clinics so people could get the resources they need, said communication advisor An Le.
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