Faces of New Bedford
Faces of New Bedford is a project by Colton Simmons. If you are interested in booking a shoot or getting prints from the series email all inquiries to josh@@newbedfordguide.com.
If you’d like to see the faces from newest to old go here.
Faces Of New Bedford – #01: Kat Knutsen
Meet Kat Knutsen, a resident of downtown New Bedford. Kat moved to New Bedford from Asheville, NC to attend UMASS Dartmouth where she earned her Masters degree in Fine Arts.
“After graduating I took notice of the concentrated art scene in this area and started a local art publication called The Siren (https://www.facebook.com/TheSirenNB) as a way to document and promote the arts in this area. Also after graduating I was invited back to UMass Dartmouth to be an artist in residence in fibers. My current work revolves around multi media in combining knitting, painting, animation and music production.”
She is very excited to see the direction that New Bedford is moving in and hopes to be a part of molding it into what it will become.
Faces Of New Bedford – #02: Nick Dompierre
Meet Nick Dompierre, professional skateboarder turned fitness expert. Growing up in New Bedford he was drawn to the skate culture that exploded from Solstice Skateboarding and had his humble beginnings at Livesey Skatepark.
Later gathering several endorsement sponsors and turning professional he was able to travel the world and live out his dreams. After an injury in 2011, he was left with a broken neck and took time off from skateboarding to focus on his health. Strengthening the muscles around his neck using fitness and weight training, he found a new passion. Recently he has become part of the Live Fit team of fitness athletes where he is able to skateboard and train, while inspiring thousands of people.
“Be Positive. Be Focused. Be Consistent. I use these 3 everyday for success and reaching my goals.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #03: Marcus Cusick
Meet Marcus Cusick, a recent graduate from the Fine Arts program at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
Here he is pictured preparing for the Seaport Artwalk, where he had several sculptures installed and a large mural of a lobster claw. When asked what it was about New Bedford that inspired him and his art his reply was the culture. “I mean, look at downtown, there’s a Mexican place down the street from a Portuguese place, down the street from a Thai place, next to a Dominican place.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #04: Dereck Boyd
Meet Dereck Boyd, a 22 year-old student at Bristol Community College.
Although you may recognize him as your friendly bagger at Market Basket, there is more to Dereck than meets the eyes.
He is also an aspiring dancer, singer, and actor who has a huge passion for fashion. He spends his spare time volunteering at the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ to put on youth events. He loves that there is so much musical talent in New Bedford and the history of Downtown and Seaport.
He remembers graduating college and living on the floor of his friend’s apartment thinking, “How will I ever get out of this?” Almost two decades later he knows that he only got through it by the strength of God and it was that difficult time that pushed him to do all that he has for the community.
Faces Of New Bedford – #05: Erik Andrade
Meet Erik Andrade, a poet and activist who calls our beautiful city home.
After moving here 20 years ago during his time at UMass Dartmouth, he fell in love with the rich history of social justice and the Cape Verdean community that New Bedford thrives from. Since then, he has become involved in helping the youth overcome their adversity through leadership development and after school tutoring.
“Outside of lighting the world with candles, we have enlightened the world with tolerance, social justice, equality, and equity. From the likes of from the likes of Frederick Douglass, Paul Cuffee, Sweet Daddy Grace, and Jibreel Khazan, we have been home to visionaries who have not only created change, but also inspired social-change movements throughout the world.”
He remembers graduating college and living on the floor of his friend’s apartment thinking, “How will I ever get out of this?” Almost two decades later he knows that he only got through it by the strength of God and it was that difficult time that pushed him to do all that he has for the community.
Faces Of New Bedford – #06: Jordan Pina
Meet Jordan Pina, New Bedford High School Educational Advisor by day and Female Varsity Basketball Head Coach by night.
After graduating New Bedford High School in 2008, he left New Bedford to attend Wheelock College in Boston. Due to the impact that many role models, such as Coach DeBritto, had in his life, he returned to New Bedford after attaining his Bachelor’s Degree in order to continue on the legacy set before him.
“Family raised me, New Bedford made me,” is what he stated when asked what he felt could sum up a short synopsis of what New Bedford means to him. Being inspired by the history of our city and the bright future ahead of it, despite all of the negativity he hopes to, “let the light expose itself to push the darkness aside.”
As an Educational Advisor he has had the opportunity to help kids, who wouldn’t normally have applied for college, not only pursue different universities but also move on to those institutes after graduating. He is excited to not only to assist students getting into college and chasing championship titles, but to interact with each one he encounters and really make a difference in their lives.
Faces Of New Bedford – #07: Charlie Perry
Meet Charlie Perry, an officer in the New Bedford Police department.
After spending a year in the cadet program in 1987, he left for the academy and never looked back. In his almost 30 years of service, he has not only patrolled our streets to keep them safe, but has worked as a detective and resource officer at Keith Junior High School.
His tremendous love for New Bedford has been the reason he has worked as a police officer all of these years. When he isn’t busy helping the citizens of our city, he spends his time working on his second passion, writing. Not only has he written tons of poetry, he has published his own book, a biography of Andre McCoy. The proceeds from the book go to fund the New Bedford Boy’s and Girls club.
“I really owe everything I have learned about being a police officer to Captain Guy Oliveira, who was a true inspiration and mentor. I just want to be able to help the community and impact our city and this badge allows me to do that.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #08: Meagan “Meaggsy” Borges
Meet Meagan “Meaggsy” Borges, a 24-year-old marine fabricator and artist.
After 8 long years of working at multiple McDonald restaurants in the area she left to work for Steele and Rowe, where she discovered her love for fashion design while crafting boat covers. Using the skills developed while working there, she creates backpacks, hats, and many other commissioned works.
Not only is she a full time fabricator, but she also recently graduated UMass Boston with a degree in Finance, which she hopes to use, along with her artistic abilities, to open a business in downtown New Bedford.
She has also been drawing since she first picked up a pencil. Inspired by the cartoons she watched as a child, her art heavily revolves around detailed line work and many familiar faces from 90s television.
She is inspired by the local community and how everyone has always been supportive of anything she has tried to do, which is why she loves this city. She just recently showed at the Pour Farm Tavern which garnered her a lot of local attention.
“Find out what makes you you and do it. Keep growing and learning to make whoever you find yourself to be better than you were the day before.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #09: Gildas Roberts
Meet Gildas Robert, a young creative from New Bedford.
Growing up in the city he has always been inspired by the remnants of the architecture from New Bedford past. He enjoys to be by the ocean and loves the sailing and fishing culture.
After a small stay at UMass Dartmouth studying English, he took a hiatus to truly find out what he desires to do the most. Feeling inclined to his passion for all things art, he is planning on entering into the CVPA program this upcoming fall.
“This city is so fascinating and I can’t just stay at home, so I am always on the go. Once you find the things you love never let it go, stay positive, and don’t ever give up.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #10: Courtney Saunders
Meet Courtney Saunders, a 29-year old hair dresser and business owner from New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Being part of a family that has been in this city for generations, she is passionate about seeing growth and success in our lovely city. As co-owner of the Beehive hair salon she hopes to help cultivate the trendy and eclectic nuance that is growing in that area. She anticipates a positive economic growth approaching our city and is happy to help be a part of that.
Coming from a salon that has helped shaped the face of Padanaram village, she aspires to bring that same life to the bustling cobblestones of Centre street. Courtney loves the charm of New Bedford and that is something that she truly appreciates.
Faces Of New Bedford – #11: Christian Farland
Meet Christian Farland, a 36 year-old civil engineer from New Bedford.
Living in the city his entire life, he felt a commitment to the community and decided to continue to live and raise his family here and start his career. After moving out of his home during his junior year in high school and having a child at 19, just a few years later, he was still able to graduate from The University of Massachusetts Dartmouth with a Bachelors Degree in Civil Engineering. He stated that math always come easy to him and pursued a career in it due to the impact of Mrs. Baptiste and Mrs. Bourgeois, two math teachers he had growing up.
Currently, he is the owner of two local businesses: Thompson Farland, which is a civil engineering and land surveying company and Farland Corp, which handles site construction. He started Thompson Farland in 2008 during the midst of the economic turmoil this country was facing and received criticism that it would take off. Years later, and after 60-70 hour work weeks at times, the company has proved itself successful.
Christian’s love for the rich history and culture has given him the drive to see improvement in this city, like a better school system and the flourishing of downtown New Bedford. In his venture to do this, he has been involved with the South Coast Business Alliance for the past 7 years and has been the President for the past 3 years. He also sits on the UMass Faculty Advisor Board and South Coast Health Presidents Council.
“You can do or be anything you want, the opportunities are out there. You just need to make sure you are ready when the opportunity comes your way. It doesn’t happen over night but by setting short-term goals and taking it one day at a time you will get there.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #12: Andrew Kepinski
Meet Andrew Kepinski, a 36-year old bartender and photographer who lives in Downtown New Bedford.
Growing up between Westport and New Bedford, he got to experience the best of both worlds. Not only did he get to experience the peacefulness of Westport but also the culture and diversity of the city.
He has had the opportunity to work at the Pour Farm Tavern, a flourishing tavern/bar and grille in the heart of the downtown area, for the last six and a half years. He enjoys the flexibility he has with his schedule there to be able to make a living and pursue his passion of photography.
During his time growing as a photographer he has hosted 4 photo exhibitions in Downtown New Bedford with his 5th one being shown at the Pour Farm on September 10th. He is encouraged and inspired by the innumerable amount of talent that surrounds him in our city.
“I hope to see more people realize the potential this city has. I’ve seen downtown at its worst about twenty years ago. It’s amazing what a turn its made and I only see it getting better in the future.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #13: Ben Gilbarg
Meet Ben Gilbarg, a 37 year-old Videographer and Adjunct Professor at Bristol Community College.
As the owner of Visionary Communications Consultants LCC his hope is to produce dynamic video content. These videos are produced with the intention of making an impact to the social current of our culture. He also helped to co-found Third Eye Open at the age of twenty, which is a non-profit organization which strives to equip the youth with the ability to grow in the arts and music.
Although both of his parents weren’t originally born here, one hailing from Cleveland and the other from California, they met in Boston and relocated to New Bedford, where Ben was born. He has spent most of his life in New Bedford, with the exception of his time spent in Amherst and Los Angeles, where he received his Bachelors and Masters Degrees.
His career path was inspired by the lack of needs being met in New Bedford after he returned home from college. He also saw the condition that the world was in and wanted to expand what he was doing locally to impact the world as well. For instance, he is currently working on a centennial music video anthem for the National Park Service which is aimed at raising awareness and projecting the voice of the youth.
This city is a huge inspiration to him due to the talent that resonates here and the heart, culture, and style of the people that live here. He sees the lack of mentors and knows that if we as a city can focus on the creative youth economy then we will see a major turn around in the development of our children.
“Do something, everyone has some sort of talent, interest, or niche. Communities don’t get better by people waiting for others to make a stand, you have to go out and make it happen. In the words of Ray Bradbury, ‘Jump of a cliff and build your wings on the way down.’”
Faces Of New Bedford – #14: Dana Ribeiro
Meet Dana Ribeiro, a City Councilor and a Community of Color Outreach member of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. She is the councilor of Ward 4, which encompasses most of the West End of New Bedford, some of the South End, and even Pope’s Island.
Dana returned to the city she loved after living in various places like New York, LA and even parts of South America. Her love is what has perpetuated her desire to help the city move forward. Influences here, both good and bad, have inspired her voice for people who don’t otherwise have one. Her father was a Panther Party leader, who was falsely imprisoned for murder and released 13 years later to the community where he lived and continued to advocate for the poor. This virtue he passed on to his oldest daughter and it stays with her to this day.
Her hope is to help create opportunities for the poor and working class to bring back to life the dying middle class this city once had. She is a firm believer that by creating more home and business owners who are citizens of New Bedford, we will be able to strengthen our economy.
“What good is the torch if you don’t pass it on. There is so much unlocked potential in our city and all it takes is someone being inspired enough to help someone move beyond what they believe their limits are.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #15: Lindsey Rocha
Meet Lindsey Rocha, a 26 year-old senior program manager and coordinator with the New Bedford Health Department.
Growing up she faced tons of adversity, living in and out of foster care while coping with her family’s battles with addiction. These traumatic experiences could have led her down a dark path herself, but she is able to use them to bring hope to others.
While attending Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational High School, she started an internship at the Ocean Explorium in downtown New Bedford. As long as she could remember she focused on her survival and marine biology gave her something else to grasp onto and it changed her life. It was during her time at the Explorium where she worked with at risk youth and she saw herself in these kids, which made her strive to want to show them that there was something in life they could relate to outside of their struggles.
Since then she has become a therapeutic mentor at Child and Family services, where prior to her involvement with the City of New Bedford, she worked with high risk youth, teaching them self awareness and coping skills. Not only did she give provide them with those resources but she helped them get involved with the community. She soon realized that the majority of the trauma these children and teens received were the result of substance abuse, which is why is working with the Health Department to raise awareness of opioid abuse.
“Don’t be afraid to let the walls down and share your story. There is power in vulnerability, you have no idea how what you have gone through could impact someone else.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #16: Clinton “CJ” Cassidy Dunston Jr.
Meet Clinton “CJ” Cassidy Dunston Jr., an 11 year-old student at Keith Junior High School. Cj’s favorite subject in school is math and hopes to one day become an engineer.
Although he loves math, he would also one day love to play in the MLB or NBA. He currently plays on the NB Police team in the SEEYA and has helped the team to claim two undefeated seasons, playing 2nd base, and two championships. He is also involved in a fall ball team out of RI where he also plays second base.
When asked who inspires him to become a better athlete, he mentioned how Jordan Todman helps him to see that it is possible for anyone coming from New Bedford to make it to the professionals.
Faces Of New Bedford – #17: Nicole Corkum
Meet Nicole Corkum, a 27 year-old jewelry maker and thrift store owner.
Having lived here her entire life, she has seen several business grow into something out of nothing in the downtown area.
That was, in part, her inspiration to starting New Bedford Negotiables, a thrift store located in the south end of New Bedford. After seeing how profitable it was selling her old an unused clothes through online yard sales, she thought about taking that vision and turning it into a full scale operation.
Three years later, that vision has turned into a reality for Nicole. Teaming up with local artists and jewelry makers, not only does she resell people’s older and vintage items, but supports the local art community by providing space for them to sell their wares.
She would love to join others in the community and help development an environment of positivity.
“We are only going to see change if we are actively seeking it, rather than sitting back and complaining. Instead of people seeing things in a negative way, we should be encouraging them to try and see the positive in things. Crime happens everywhere and rather than bash our city we can improve it because complaining gets us nowhere. We need to be the change we want to see in the world.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #18: Giovanni Willet
Meet Giovanni Willet, a 21-year-old cook and art student.
He spent most of his childhood traveling due to his parents’ careers, never staying in one place for more than a month. At the age of 9, they settled in New Bedford, which is why the city means so much to him. Before living here, he wasn’t able to experience a normal childhood and coming here allowed him to discover skateboarding.
He instantly fell in love with the culture and it allowed him to find himself as a person. Through skateboarding, he was able to explore numerous artists that greatly influence his artwork. All of this has pushed him to go to school to study graphic design.
He is also inspired by the community, which has flourishing art galleries and local businesses. To him, they prove that if you work hard enough you can make your dreams a reality. So far, Giovanni has already co-hosted two shows in downtown New Bedford, which garnered great local exposure.
“An old friend of mine, Andrew, used to say, ‘Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard,’ and that has always kept me going.’”
Faces Of New Bedford – #19: Clyde
Meet Clyde, the peace-sign waving local that anyone from New Bedford can recognize. A known staple to the city’s north end, Clyde is always greeting cars and foot traffic as they pass by the corner of Acushnet and Coffin Avenues.
In a brief conversation with Clyde you can tell that he is interested in one thing, love. Although people may be immediately opposed to talking to stranger on the street, Clyde is willing to talk with anyone. He constantly talks about his care for his friends and all people. In his own words, he just wants to show people how it’s like to ‘live like the big man upstairs.’
“To me, it’s all about One love.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #20: Shanna Sears
Meet Shanna Sears, a 28-year-old painter and residential remodeler.
Shanna grew up in New Bedford and at the age of 15 she emancipated herself due to family issues and finished her high school career living with a friend’s family. At the age of 22 she moved away to San Deigo, where she eventually got married and had a daughter. To everyone it appeared that she had overcome difficulty and now had a seemingly perfect life, but little did she know, the greatest challenge she would ever face was to come.
In February, she had a physical check up and everything was normal but a few weeks later, after noticing a lump, she went back in for an ultrasound , mammogram, and eventually a biopsy. It was then that she received the news that she had be diagnosed with triple negative stage-two breast cancer. In shock, she traveled back to New Bedford, where she knew she’d be able to seek treatment in Boston and be around the only family she really knew.
Between the months of May and September she received chemotherapy and went through a divorce, all while trying to raise her 3-year-old daughter, Randi. During this time she was overwhelmed with the response from the community around her, receiving phone calls from people she barely knew, offering to help in any way that they could. She even had a golf tournament held in her honor, which raised money that helped support her and Randi, as she wasn’t able to work during her treatment.
Today, after receiving a double-mastectomy, Shanna is cancer-free and truly grateful. She had always loved the community, but her appreciation has multiplied after seeing how it came together to in her time of need..
“It’s not about the money, gifts, or any of that, it’s about the endless acts of kindness that people have poured out to us. I know I’ve said it before but I am truly thankful for each and every person that has come along side of me to show their support. Everyday is a lesson and everyone is put in your life for a reason.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #21: Jonna Algarin-Mojica
Meet Jonna Algarin-Mojica, a 22-year-old IT Specialist with the National Guard.
After joining the military at the age of 19, he has had several contracts where he has worked with computer systems throughout the state of Massachusetts.
Towards the end of 2014, he was laid off, due to a lapse in contracts, and was without work for a few months. During that time period he picked up his camera and started experimenting with street photography. It was during this time period where his passion for photography exploded and he was able to really dedicate his time into getting better.
The Instagram community really pushed him harder and harder and has led to the success that Jonna has received in his short time as a photographer. After being featured in Street Dreams magazine, a quarterly photography magazine, which narrows down millions of submissions into a handful of lucky individuals and prints their work in the magazine.
While living in Milford in 2014 for a short period of time, he would constantly hear of the bad name that New Bedford had from the surrounding area. This encouraged and inspired him to be able to show the world that New Bedford didn’t have as bad of a rep as it seemed. In early September he was able to do just that, as he had been given a spotlight in the online blog Hypebeast, which has over 2 million viewers daily. Over the course of the weekend they posted his images of New Bedford, with little excerpts of his interview, talking about how great and inspiring the city is.
Today, Jonna is currently training for his new contract with the National Guard and chasing his photography dreams head on. He would love to see the community come together and work on accomplishing similar goals rather than trying to constantly cut each other off at the feet.
“Be yourself, there’s a lot of people that will guide you in the direction of what they think is right. You are only going to be happy or succeed if you are being true to yourself.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #22: Joseph Arruda
Meet Joseph “The Beardfather” Arruda, a 36-year-old direct support residential staff, founder of Beards of New Bedford, and President of the South Coast Beard and Mustache Guild.
He also helps his wife run the gallery that she co-owns, TL6 the Gallery, which is located on William Street in downtown New Bedford.
After growing up in Somerset, and attending the University of Massachusetts, he moved to New Bedford in 2000 to be closer to his friends and this new community that he had become so fond of. His father’s family had lived here for generations and his grandfather was a fire fighter here for 40 years, so he always felt a strong connection to the city.
After deciding to grow a beard a few years back, he never would have understood then how much it would impact his life today. He created a page on Facebook titled “Beards of New Bedford”, where he chronicled the growth of his beard and, after garnering some attention from the community, other men’s beards as well. With the formation of a group of guys that were interested in growing and styling their facial hair, the South Coast Beard and Mustache Guild had come to life. They started holding beard competitions and have focused the proceeds of these events, which include different categories of beards and mustaches, to benefit charitable organizations. He really believes that by uniting with others in similar interests we can really make a change in our city.
“The Guild is home to welders, artists, photographers, professionals, and even some women, but the one thing that ties us together is our love for beards and wanting to help people.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #23: Kathy Plante
Meet Kathy Plante, a 57-year-old Registered Nurse of 36 years and Professor at Bristol Community College.
Kathy is not only a full-time faculty member at BCC, she is also a full-time wife, mother, and student at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, working towards her PhD in Nurse Research.
For Kathy, there was no one moment or experience in her life that made her decide to become a nurse. Innately, she always knew that nursing was her goal. After much hard work and determination, she graduated from the Nursing Program at Bristol Community College—the same program where she educates students, today. Kathy went on to work at St. Luke’s Hospital in the the Labor and Delivery and Maternity departments for 27 years, caring for thousands the citizens from our city and local community.
With a profession that is in such a high demand, Kathy could have gone anywhere for work, but chose New Bedford for so many reasons. With deep Madeiran roots, she loves the Portuguese culture of our city. She and her husband, Steve, volunteer every year at our annual Feast of the Blessed Sacrament. Kathy and her husband also love the atmosphere of the downtown area, frequenting the shops and restaurants that call it home.
Although Kathy has moved on from a life-long dream at St. Luke’s Hospital, she has moved on to another life-long dream in her current position as an Associate Professor of Nursing at BCC. The best part of her job is the students, who come from various backgrounds and age groups. With the course load being so demanding, she is encouraged to see non-traditional college students, some even older than herself, persevere, graduate, and achieve their dreams.
Returning to education for her Bachelors, Masters, and PhD, 27 years after graduating, Kathy is an advocate and “cheerleader” to all returning students, no matter what age they are.
“As a current student, I know what it is like to work full-time while going to school full-time. I know what it’s like to lose my weekends and miss out on family events, but in the end, it will be worth all the hard work and sacrifice.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #24: Joshua Lemaire
Meet Joshua Lemaire, 27-year-old chef and owner of dNB Burger.
Having lived in the area his entire life, he was drawn by the charm of the city to the downtown area. After working in restaurants for 10 years and attending Le Cordon Bleu, his passion for cooking resulted in the birth of dNB Burger.
Now dNB isn’t your normal restaurant, that seems to be molded by a cookie cutter and operated in the typical manner every other establishment is. It is the home to a from-scratch kitchen, which only 400years ago was common place but now it is an almost non-existent commodity. With the commercialization of almost everything in our lives, Josh wanted to break the mold, which they do at dNB Burger everyday.
Although he may work longer days and work harder to grind the meat and prepare the sauces (just to name a few of the things they do daily), this is a sacrifice Josh is willing to make to serve great food to his customers. He doesn’t do what he does for the money, but for the satisfaction of serving something mind blowing to his customers.
He hopes to see the community realize what a precious city we have and start cutting some slack for the good that is really going on here. So many local entrepreneurs are taking risks in hopes to make this city better and he encourages everyone to continue their hard work.
“Someone once told me that you ‘Need to be the change you want to see in the world,’ and that really stuck with me.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #25: Samantha Johnson
Meet Samantha Johnson, a 26 year-old singer.
Samantha moved to New Bedford at the age of 12 from Dennis because her father took on new responsibilities at work, but she secretly thinks he did it because he wanted his family to be more cultured.
As a full time singer, Samantha has been able to travel around the globe. Before her run on America’s Got Talent this past summer, she worked on the Michael Jackson Tribute show for four years as the lead female vocalist.
Samantha owes a lot of her drive and determination to the music program she was heavily involved with at New Bedford High School. Under the leadership of Ms. Brasil, she learned how to set goals, create plans to accomplish them and, most importantly, strive towards those goals until they are completed.
With her recent shot to fame, she is constantly being pulled in all directions, one in particular, is to move away. She just couldn’t imagine doing that though. Her siblings go to school here, her friends are here, and most importantly her home is here. Out of the places she’s visited New Bedford is different, you can find anything you want here, culture, passion, art. She also enjoys how real people are here, they have real lives with real struggles, and it’s hard to find that anywhere else.
“I want people to visit New Bedford like we visit New York, or LA. We have everything we need to make New Bedford a destination, we just have to realize the potential and run with it.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #26: Lorenzo Vazquez
Meet Lorenzo Vazquez, a case manager with Seven Hills Behavioral Health.
He moved to New Bedford in 1997 to seek better opportunities for his family. He started his career in as an advocate at the Health Center back in 2000 when he saw the need in this city for people to stand up for those who didn’t have a voice.
Recently, after a split with his ex-wife, he has assumed full responsibility for his four children, which can be a daunting task for him. Juggling his career and raising his children alone has been tough but amidst it all, he is still chasing his other passions, which include opening a bakery.
He has always dreamed of opening his own bakery and that dream is slowly becoming a reality as he renovates its future home in the north end of New Bedford. When opened it will become New Bedford’s first Spanish bakery, serving breakfast and plenty of Spanish delicacies.
He loves New Bedford because upon arriving here he knew nobody but was made welcome by the community here. The fact that although there are many negative things going on and yet as people we persevere really encourages him.
“We need more community oneness. Although we have many cultures here, we would see a better community if we all came together to make it happen. We see too many divisions between ethnicities that stop us from being able to truly make a difference.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #27: Manuel Mederios
Meet Manuel Mederios, 64-year-old barber in New Bedford.
Manuel and his family migrated to New Bedford when he was only 12 years old and has lived here ever since. When he first got his barber’s license he managed a barbershop on Union street for a few years before opening his own, Your Father’s Mustache, right around the corner.
Since opening the shop he has been in operation for 33 years and has become a landmark in the Purchase street landscape. He loves the cities sense of community, as it has allowed him to build his business through word of mouth, which he continues to do without any advertising.
He hopes that the city’s economy has a resurgence of job opportunities. He remembers when someone could lose their job in the morning and have a new one by the evening time and sees the potentional for that to return.
“Remain grateful. Somebody might have driven by 4-5 barbershops to get here and I always stay humbled every time someone walks through the door.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #28: Ashley Bendiksen
Meet Ashley Bendiksen, a 29-year old, and the Executive Assistant to the Bristol County District Attorney.
Ashley, who had spent a brief time in college after she graduated high school, became involved in an abusive relationship which forced her to leave school. Once she eventually freed herself from that relationship she spent time volunteering and working in New Bedford to piece her life back together.
Remembering what her childhood dance teacher had told her about the Miss New Bedford contest, she saw that were she to win, she would receive a scholarship to allow her to afford to attend school again, as well as engage even more in the community. After lots of work and dedication she walked across the stage and received the title of Miss New Bedford 2009. As a requirement she also spent the next year volunteering to help raise awareness for domestic violence.
She eventually returned to school and at 26, she graduated from Salve Regina University as valedictorian, with her Bachelors Degree in Criminal Justice. She appreciates the experiences she has been through in order to get where she has and New Bedford has played a major role in that. When she felt that she had nothing she was able to build her identity in this city through her experience, the community, and her job. She has had the opportunity to work on the Board of Directors of the YWCA, as the chairperson of the Miss New Bedford program, chairperson of the Southeastern Massachusetts Walk to End Alzheimer’s and President of One Theater Group – a non profit theater group that she helped found which raises money for various organizations.
“New Bedford offers so much. As far as living here there is so much to do, diverse people, amazing music and arts, history and culture, and it’s a great central location to enjoy the entire New England area. There’s also so much opportunity here, whether it’s running a business or starting your own nonprofit. I think it’s just an awesome place to live.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #29: Jamie Casey
Meet Jamie Casey, a 42-year-old ministry leader and property manager.
Now life for Jamie hasn’t always been living to serve others and make a difference, in fact it was very destructive for many years. At an early age he was focused on money, having “fun” and self fulfillment, while indulging himself in the underworld of New Bedford.
It wasn’t soon after working in bars and nightclubs that he not only started selling drugs, but using them as well. With a wife and 3 children he tried to balance out his life by starting to go to church at the age of 25, but in turn created two parallel lives. On Sundays he would go to church and wrestle with his faith, but the rest of the week his life would be in total disarray.
By 35, he had jumped from job to job and even lost his wife and the relationship he had with his children, all of this due to his drug addiction. At the verge of committing suicide, his two parallel lives collided and his faith became a very real thing to him for the first time in 10 years. Not wanting to live the life he had for so long, with the help of family and friends, he checked himself into Teen Challenge New England, a faith-based residential rehabilitation program.
After a year in the program, Jamie returned to New Bedford renewed and ready to re-build his life the right way. He started all over again and spent a lot of time in the community, trying to right the wrongs he had made over the years. His goal was to help those who were still in the darkness and introduce them to the light he had found in his relationship with God.
He has since remarried to Stacey, who shares his passion and vision for ministry. And in the past 5 years he and a few close friends founded the Acts 29 Project, which has been involved in multiple foreign mission trips, as well as a yearly Thanksgiving Ministry at GNB Voc-Tech that prepares and delivers meals to the elderly, sick and shut-ins of our community. They also “adopt” families during Christmas to help them provide gifts, and have a recovery program that focuses on reaching those struggling with addiction.
“Its for Christ, for the glory of God. The call of the Christian life is to live out your faith and not just go to church, but to be the church. There’s a war on our streets and the greatest weapon we possess in this city, is love.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #30: John Biel
Meet John Biel, one of the many homeless on the streets of New Bedford.
Without a place for him to live he struggles trying to find a job that will hire him. Most nights he has no idea where he is going to sleep, as he tries to do whatever he can during the day to get money for food. With the early admittance time for the Sister Rose house, it’s just not feasible for anyone trying to work to get in at night.
Although he has faced homelessness for many years now, he is thankful for the people who have helped him in his time of need. Local businesses in the South End, like New Bedford House of Pizza, have helped provide him food when he didn’t have all of the money to pay for it.
Although pan handling is a major issue in our city, it is how he survives. He has even been put in compromising situations, where people have told him that the only way they would give him money would be to admit he was buying alcohol with it.
“I am so grateful for everyone who has helped me. I never know if tomorrow is going to be the day that things fall apart, but thank you for all of your help.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #31: Roger Andrews
Meet Roger Andrews, a 45-year-old commercial artist.
Roger grew up in the city and came from a modest family, who lived in and out of some of the housing projects throughout the city. With moments to spare, during the summer after his eighth-grade year, he got into New Bedford Voc-Tech, where he pursued the commercial art program.
During that time, graphic design was mostly drawing based, which allowed him to grow technically. Upon graduating he enrolled in Butera School of Art, which has in recent years been absorbed by Fisher College, where he continued his education in their two-year Sign Painting program. Having impressed the faculty at the school he received a full ride to take part in their 3-year Commercial Art program, which they allowed him to finish in 2.
Upon graduating, he worked for several years for ad agencies in Boston, understanding and learning what it took to make it in the graphic art business. He would notice that when the companies he worked for had large projects, they would hire freelance designers, who made exponentially more than he did at the time, to assist in completing these contracts. It was soon after than he decided to venture into the freelance world.
Some years after this decision, he also started teaching at his alma mater, where he formed a close relationship with one of his students Chris Ford. Chris went on to work for Hasbro in the games department and this was the moment that Roger’s life as a commercial artist really started to take shape. Chris asked for assistance on Hasbro’s board game redesign project from Roger, which opened amazing doors for him. He was introduced to Bill Concannon, who Chris later started Pilot with, and this led to Roger doing more work with Hasbro.
Since then Roger has worked on character design for all of Hasbro’s Star Wars Galactic Heroes line and Marvel’s Super Hero Squad, as well as many board games that we know and love. This opportunity, has allowed for Roger to see the world and even be a keynote guest at comic conventions all over the world.
Roger has also done work for Angry Birds, Jurassic World, Transformers, and Best Fiends, just to name a few.
As an artist, Andrews is appreciative of the renaissance that is taking place in our city. With the support that is show to young creatives and entrepreneurs he hopes to see our city continue to progress in the direction that it is headed.
To check out Roger’s work visit his site: http://www.rand247.com
Faces Of New Bedford – #32: Ed Rodrigues
Meet Ed Rodrigues, 62-year old retired teacher and basketball coach at New Bedford High School, who recently became the Athletic Director for Wareham High school.
Ed grew up in the south end of New Bedford where there was a lot of negative temptations. Alongside his good friend, Brian Baptiste, who is the Head Basketball coach at UMass Dartmouth, filled his time with playing basketball, instead of getting involved in the trouble that surrounded them.
After graduating high school, he went on to college, and upon returning to New Bedford started coaching and teaching U.S. History at New Bedford High. New Bedford is his home and he felt it was important to return to the city that he loved to impact kids who wanted and out from the trouble just like him. In his time as the Men’s Varsity basketball coach he led the team to win 2 State Championships and multiple conference championships. His biggest enjoyment of coach and teaching was seeing kids overcome their trials and go on to succeed in life.
He made such an impact at the school during his time there that they even named the basketball court after him. After retiring from his career at the school he couldn’t stay away from being involved in teenagers lives and accepted the position as the Athletic Director for Wareham High School.
“Give an effort every single day, have a passion for what you are doing, and be loyal to those who have helped you out.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #33: Abdourahmane Doumbouya
Meet Abdourahmane Doumbouya, 26 year old Senior Software Support Engineer and Musician from New Bedford.
Abdourahmane, also known as Abdou, moved to the United States in the December of 1996 from Senegal, West Africa, after a quick stay in France. As a kid he always felt a barrier between himself and others, as a young, black, Muslim living in the country. In Africa, he had the freedoms of a teenager and had to revert back to doing the things children do here.
He found that once he stopped trying to fit in with everyone around him, he found himself and actually started to make friends. This was all great until the unfortunate events of 9/11, where he was treated as an outcast, even by some teachers, for weeks.
As most children who are immigrated to the states, he found himself without documentation. The attacks on 9/11 made it even harder for his family to get him any type of citizenship with added security measures put into place. As all of his friends were getting their licenses and picking out colleges, Abdou felt alone once again, even making excuses to why he couldn’t join in these activities with them. During this time, he really poured his life into making music, not only to cope with these struggles but to give a voice to those who were stuck in the same situation.
It wasn’t until 2012, where after working multiple jobs under the table and trying to just get by he was covered until President Obama’s Dream Act, which failed twice in Congress before he put it into effect with an Executive Order. This allowed for children who didn’t have the option to come into the country and had excelled in school to become a legal resident in the United States.
Shortly after he began his career working for LogMeIn where he is a high level support engineer on two of their products, Rescue and BoldChat. Aside from that his music career is able to now reach heights he couldn’t get to in the past in fear of facing deportation. Recording between Boston, New York, and LA he is hoping to put out two albums this year under his moniker ‘Caliph.’ He hopes that his music becomes the voice for the millions of others who struggle just as he did to make a place in this world.
“If what I am leaving in this world changes one person’s life for the better, then I’ve done my job. I hope to do that and positively impact the world.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #34: Crystal Lister
Meet Crystal Lister, a 31 year-old Medical Lab Technician, body coach, and cook. Crystal works for the Greater New Bedford Health Center. When she isn’t in the lab, her and her husband are the owners of Heathy Bites Meal Preps, which means she is constantly researching healthy meals and creatively helping others live cleaner, heathier lives.
Now she hadn’t always been such a health enthusiast. Attending Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech she was in the Culinary Arts program and always enjoyed cooking growing up. Crystal never really managed how she ate and once she had her two kids, she had even less time to devote to developing a healthy way of living. It got to the point where she felt miserable and blamed everyone around her for her unhealthy lifestyle.
It was at this point she realized that for the sake of her health and the future of her children, she needed to make a change in her life. After working with a trainer who was passionate about fitness and inspiring others, she fell in love with the idea of living a healthy life. After learning how to prep her meals and working out consistently, Crystal dropped down over 45 pounds and found herself at a weight that she really felt comfortable with.
This gave her the desire to develop and assist in the same growth in others. Explaining that diet was one of the most important parts of leading a healthier lifestyle and that her clients needed to prep their meals, she found that more than not they would just ask her to prep for them. This got her thinking and not to long afterwards she opened up her own business, prepping meals for those who want to eat healthy but don’t have the time to portion and prep for themselves.
Her desire to help others goes beyond the notion of attaining the “perfect body.” Working in the medical field, she realizes how unhealthy people are. As more people are being diagnosed with diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, she wants to raise the awareness that these aren’t death sentences. With the correct diet people can actively fight these diseases and live longer, happier lives.
“It is so much more than losing weight, it’s more about finding yourself and loving the person that you are.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #35: John Brendon
Meet John Brendon “JB” Macaroco, 22-year old aspiring business owner/fashion designer.
JB works for his family’s business M&R ScreenPrinting, which was started in the basement of his grandfather’s house in 1982. The business continued to grow and expand up until 1996, when his grandfather decided to retire and sell the company to an outside party.
In 1990 JB’s father, John, lost his job as a Phys Ed teacher due to city cut backs. He then started working for his father-in-law’s company to provide for his family. After several years of managing the shop, he then with a partner purchased the company. Fast forward 20 years and JB now works with his entire family to keep the business running smoothly.
After spending a few years going for an engineering degree, JB felt that he didn’t want to take that route in life and switched into the business program at #UMassDartmouth. Upon entering the program talks between his sister, Sorrell, began about starting a clothing company. In 2014, in an attempt to put his business knowledge to use, he and his sister released Wicked Clothing’s first line and met mixed results.
Not satisfied, JB took the initiative to research and learn the market to better implement his vision. In 2015, with much gained experience and knowledge he, working together with local photographer Jonna Mojica, launched a summer and winter line, which became pivotal for JB and the future of Wicked.
Now fulfilling orders across the country and having some prominent faces in the fashion world co-signing and wearing his apparel, he can only be thankful. #NewBedford and the culture here has helped inspire and motivate the creativity he has poured out into his work. His hope for this year is to get his line into stores, while continuing to push the company’s online presence.
“I just encourage everyone to chase their dreams. New Bedford is a place with so much talent and underrated skill, we just have to come together and make it happen.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #36: Victor Fernandes
Meet Victor Fernandes, 44-year-old mason contractor at Fernandes Masonry and co-founder of the Noah Foundation. Victor moved to New Bedford 28-years ago from Linhares DaBeira, Portugal.
It wasn’t until their son, Noah, turned five that he was diagnosed with M.E.L.A.S.
– a progressive and degenerative mitochondrial disease. Raising a child with this type of disorder puts a large strain on the family between all of the medical visits and the equipment needed in order to make a house suitable for them to live in.
Seeing this daunting task, Victor and his wife Christine founded the non-profit organization Team Noah Foundation. The goal of the organization is to help raise funds in order to be able to fill in the gaps where insurances and government funds fail. They firmly believe that no child should be without the proper equipment to cope with the disease.
So far they have been able to provide the reconstruction of a few patients homes, installing ramps and lifts throughout the house to make their daily routines more feasible. Their main goal at the moment is to raise a million dollars to build a park in New Bedford that an entire family who has a disabled child can go. Most of the time, when a family has a child with a disorder like M.E.L.A.S., that child has to stay behind when their siblings go to the park with the other parent. Their vision is to allow everyone to be able to enjoy their time out with their loved ones without leaving anyone out.
“There are so many around us who have come to support, show us love, and create opportunities for Team Noah Foundation to help peoples lives. We know that there are so many who need help, but we want to help change that.”
Meet Brian Rudolph, 27-year-old teacher’s assistant, basketball player, and coach.
Spending his whole life in New Bedford, Brian has always found an attraction to basketball, one that even landed him a position to play for Loyola University Maryland. After graduating with his Bachelors degree in Advertising and Public Relation, he came back to New Bedford, where he started working for the public school system and coaching Junior Varsity Basketball for NBHS.
During the day he works with children who have disabilities, assisting them in staying focused during class and coaching them through the triggers they may face throughout their day. At night he helps lead the JV basketball team to face against the same teams he did during his time at New Bedford High. When he was younger he felt that his calling was to just play basketball, but as he has grown older and matured he knows that he is meant to coach. He loves being able to teach his players life lessons through coaching and show them that there are opportunities for them beyond what is being offered to them in the city.
He also spends his summers playing for the Cape Verdean National Basketball team, where he has played against professional basketball players from across the world for the past four season. Their hard work has even led them to the AfroBasket, which is Africa’s qualifying tournament for the Olympics. Although he led the team in scoring throughout the season, an injury kept Brian and the team from taking home the top spot, and a seed in the Summer 2016 Olympics. Despite the loss, he is relieved that he was able to come back and be here for his family and his students.
His hope is to help spearhead a summer basketball league at Monte’s Park, which will allow the neighborhood kids an outlet in the summer, rather than turning to the streets. Growing up he’s seen struggle and success in his immediate family and wants to see not only success in his life but the lives of the students he impacts everyday.
“You can’t cheat the grind. It’s not just about basketball either, whatever kind of work you put into something, is what you will see in the end. You reap what you sow.”
Meet Carlos Araujo, 19-year-old photographer who spent his entire life in New Bedford.
His passion for photography came about one day when his cousin Kathy asked him to do a photoshoot for her and her boyfriend. She placed a camera in his hand and, with no prior experience, started shooting away. Although they weren’t the best photos she saw that he had a very great eye for composition and told him he should look into getting his own camera.
After saving for a few months, collecting all that he could form his checks from McDonalds, at the age of 16 he bought a camera and started taking pictures of his friends around the city. Soon after, he started making a business out of his photography, traveling to Boston and networking with photographers across the region. During the week he would balance school, soccer and his job and spend his weekends growing and perfecting his craft.
By 18, he had graduated high school and even started attended the New England School of Photography. One night, with no money or ticket in his pocket, he attempted to get into RCA Recording artist Los’ show, to hopefully photograph and talk with the rapper. He was able to get in and send the photos to Los, who loved his style and asked him to photograph the rest of his tour. The two became really close and Los offered him the chance of a lifetime, to come out to LA and become his personal photographer.
In the time between then and now, he has had the chance to work with artists such as Jeremiah, Lucas Coly, Justin Combs, P. Diddy, and Justin Bieber. He feels like the support he has back at home, from his friends and family during this journey have pushed him to be able to get to the places that he has at such a young age. He is constantly encouraged by the local artists and photographers, providing constant fuel for him to put New Bedford on the map as an emerging creative force.
“Knowledge is King!”
Faces Of New Bedford – #39: Paulo Duarte
Meet Paulo Duarte, 23-year-old store manager of U7 and co-brand owner at Longevity Co.
Paulo has had a deep love for sneakers since he graduated high school, where he really started to get into the streetwear culture. From there he began collecting sneakers, learning the value in reselling exclusive sneaker releases, at the time Retro Air Jordans. The urban culture and sneaker heads in New Bedford really inspired Paulo to get involved, frequenting stores such as Carters and Expressions to check out the latest gear.
Delving into this passion he started buying and selling sneakers on Facebook groups and Kixify, which is an online resource that allows users to sell sneakers, unlocking the ability to sell more sneakers at a time depending on how well your business is. In a once in a lifetime opportunity, he sold a pair to the owner of the website, who was so pleased in the way Paulo handled the transaction, gave him the ability to sell unlimited sneakers on their platform.
It was around that time that Shop U7 had opened in the south end of New Bedford, where his friends had told the owners about Paulo and his knowledge of sneakers. He stopped in during the opening week and the owners tested his knowledge of pricing and they were impressed but the young mans prowess. He quit his job of delivering pizza, where he was extremely unhappy, and was hired on and started as an assistant in the shop.
As time went on and the owner’s trust in him grew, they promoted him to store manager. During his time working there, he as also come alongside his close friends to start LongevityCo, a local streetwear clothing company, which has grown immensely in popularity over the past few years. He’s grown to learn that he needs to love what he does and he is finally in the position to do that.
Paulo is highly encouraged by the young and ambitious people around him. He sees so many people who are working on their craft and they encourage him to get better. For him to see a business open in New Bedford, he thinks about the fact that they had an idea and made it a reality, in an environment where you are guaranteed to succeed.
“If you put time and effort into something you are passionate about everyday, it will pay off. Trust your ideas & don’t let anybody tell you, you can’t do what you want.”
Meet Danielle Lopez, 21-year-old Honors student at Bridgewater State University.
She is currently studying in Biology with the intention of obtaining her Doctorate in Dental Medicine. Although her current is very promising, thing’s haven’t always been so great.
When Danielle was just 8 years old, her mother was working to two jobs just take care of her and her 3 siblings. Due to unfortunate circumstances, she lost both of her jobs and was unable to find another position that would be able to support the entire family. Due to the jobs her mom held, she always found herself just above the poverty line, so they weren’t eligible for assistance during this period.
Shorty after, they lost their apartment and were forced to live in a tent at a local campground. For the next 3 months they bathed in coin operated showers and commuted back to New Bedford from Rochester for school and work. While her mother continued to work at her new job and strive to restore their living situation, they were eventually blessed with an RV to stay in.
Fast forward 13 years later, Danielle looks back at her mother’s sacrifice and perseverance, thankful that she learned what she had at such a young age. She also reflects on the time she spent at Dennison Memorial in the wake of these events, which really sculpted and molded her desire to learn. This has manifested itself in her current position, striving to create a better life for herself and her future family.
“The position you are in now isn’t where you are going to be forever, but if you don’t change the things you do then you are going to just perpetuate the cycle.”
Meet Craig DeMelo, 33-year-old teacher and musician.
Craig grew up his entire life and graduated from New Bedford High in 2000. During his time in high school he started singing in a band called Affliction. Having been involved in chorus all throughout his childhood, he had always sang but wanted to learn how to play the guitar, so he taught himself in 6 months.
In college, he had someone introduce him to Dave Matthews Band and it was during that time where his journey as a song writer really took off. Finishing up the last year of college, he started subbing in the New Bedford school system to make extra cash while finishing his degree and fell in love with teaching. It was during this time where he was also part of the band Lemon Stone, which he toured across New England with.
He graduated college and started working full time as a teacher in at Roosevelt. Lemon Stone had broken up and Craig really started developing his solo work, writing and recording an album, “The Wiskey Poet,” which he released in 2007. This album opened up a slew of gigs for him, playing in several large venues between New Bedford and New York.
As he has gotten older, growing his family and raising his children, he has enjoyed to be able to play locally and still teach at the High School, where he has taught English and Journalism since 2008. It’s been awesome for him to see students who come through the school and rise beyond the trials that they face and become successful.
His hope is for New Bedford High’s image to become more accurately represented and that the exception which is publicized wouldn’t be considered the normal behavior of the school. He remembers when there was a valor about going to NBHS and he is working and hoping to see that restored.
Meet Raymond Ramos, 41-year-old production worker for Harvey Building Products and Cosplayer.
Raymond has been an artist his entire life and started created costumes at the age of 10. Every year he would be constantly trying to out do his costume from the years prior. Along with his creation of costumes he started illustrating his own comic book characters, which he says was spurred on by his friend Manny DeBritto.
Although he spent a lot of his youth creating costumes, it wasn’t until 2007 when he created his first full costume for a work Halloween party, the Marvel Comic character Blade. From there he continued to find ways to improve this look, trying to create the real life Blade look. After being connected with his martial arts instructor’s former student, he entered his first show, South Coast Toy and Comic show.
A few years later Raymond’s friend started the Rhode Island Comic Con, which has grown into an event so large that it sold out the Dunkin Donut center last year. Raymond has been featured every year as a cosplay guest and has won awards for the Best in Master’s class for his Batman costume.
Being linked with the Rhode Island Comic Con has also opened opportunities to volunteer and give back. He has dressed for occasions at the Hasbro Children’s Dental Clinic, bringing smiles to the kids and even the adults who work in the office.
Faces Of New Bedford – #43: Stacey Mendonca
Meet Stacey Mendonca, 42-year-old certified occupational therapist assistant for the New Bedford Public Schools.
Stacey had lived a normal life that most in her position would, as an employee, wife, mother, and grandmother until an event that took place during the Summer of 2015 turned her life upside down. On August 2nd, she received the news that no mother ever wants to hear, her 24 year old son, Jeffery Sylvia, Jr. was found murdered in the city’s South End.
In the wake of this tragic event, her family was at a total loss. Although she knows that her son may have not always made the best decisions, nobody should ever be able to choose whether someone lives or dies.
She owes her ability to be able to make it through each day with support from family and friends, grief crisis counseling, which was established by the Victim Advocacy Program days after her son’s death and support from the POMC (Parents of Murdered Children) groups she attends with her daughter.
Having come along way since her son’s death, she wants to impact the community and raise awareness to the Youth about the cause and effects of senseless acts of violence. She has started the J.E.F.F. (Just Envision Future First) campaign in memory of her son to do just that. She is currently raising funds to start a scholarship for a NBHS graduate and to donate a new baseball scoreboard to the GNBYBL, where he played as a child and is hosting the Spare the Pain Bowl-A-Thon to do so. With J.E.F.F. she hopes to be able to stop another family from facing the pain and challenges that she and her family has had to endure in the aftermath of her son’s traumatic passing.
“We have been taught to not put our hand in fire because we know we will be burned. However because the consequence is delayed we don’t think of the severity of our actions. It’s time to get our youth to envision a future self before making a choice that could crush their hopes and dreams for a better future.”
Meet Joel Cordero, 31 year-old father of two, Broadcast Editor and all-around artist.
Joel has lived most of his life in New Bedford. After graduating from Bristol Community College with a degree in Graphic Design, he started working with an artist, Thomas Deininger, creating found object assemblages that the duo installed in skyscrapers, hotels and private collections across the country. He worked with Deininger for about eight years before deciding that he wanted to continue his Bachelors Degree.
After experimenting with a few different majors, he settled on photography, which is something he had already been freelancing.
During his time in school, the city of New Bedford highly influenced his direction as an artist and photographer. He worked on his “The Ave” project, which documented the people, places, and events that happen on New Bedford’s Acushnet Avenue. This developed into his senior thesis as a short documentary, a series of large prints and a very-well put together book. Through this project he was able to meet people he’d never met before and create work that he was proud of.
His freelancing really started to pick up in 2014 as he began working with large companies, such as Bluefly, shooting high-end fashion products for e-commerce.
In early 2015, after eight years of managing commercial and residential properties in New Bedford and Fall River, he acquired his MA Real Estate license and began to practice flying UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) as a marketing tool and for fun. In February of this year he was awarded his FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) Sec. 333 Exemption for Commercial photography and video.
The day before he passed his realtor’s exam he received a call to inform him he landed a job as a Broadcast Editor at Boston’s Ch7 NBC News. There he edits together stories and openings of the news broadcasts. He is en route to working with reporters as a Videographer on the road. He is excited about his work and knows this is only the beginning to bigger and better opportunities.
Meet Bryce Fortes, 26-year-old fire fighter for the New Bedford fire department.
He never realized growing up that he would end up working to save peoples lives everyday. He had gone to Greater New Bedford Regional Vocation Technical High School and had graduated from the Carpentry shop. Upon graduation he started working with Youth Build, teaching at-risk youth how to build houses, while they studied to get their GED.
This was a fulfilling job for him, as he cared about the lives of the kids he had the chance to impact on a daily basis. After talking to his father one day, who is a corrections officer, he was left wondering what it would be like to work in civil service. He quickly became interested in the work that the fire fighters do on a daily basis and even went to offer to volunteer at one of the local stations, just to get a glimpse of what it was like. After taking his exam in 2011, he joined the academy and was soon on his first Engine.
He didn’t realize how much of blessing and calling he had to become a fire fighter until he witnessed the first toy drive that they were involved in. For him to see how is other co-workers took the time out of their day off to give back to the community, his eyes were opened to a brotherhood he had never known.
This was only the beginning of his desire to give back to the community. Being located at Ladder 4, on Acushnet Avenue in the North End, there is a lot of foot traffic. During the nicer weather, he and the fire fighters at that station are able to talk with the neighborhood kids and be an example in their lives. They also give back time at Gifts to Give and occasionally have pick up games with the youth at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I realize how blessed I am to be in the position I am in today. I am grateful and humbled by the fact I am in a position to be a positive role model for kids who come from where I come from. It is with an immense deal of pride that I say I am a member of the New Bedford Fire Department.”
Meet Marlene Gomes, a 38-year-old teacher and personal trainer.
Born in Lisbon, Portugal she moved to New Bedford in 1978 and has lived here ever since. After time studying hotel, restaurant and travel administration at UMASS Amherst, she opened a cleaning business in the city.
Dissatisfied with that career path, she continued her education, while running her business, being a single mother, and attaining her Master’s Degree in Linguistics from UMASS Boston. During all of this, she began teaching ESL at Roosevelt Middle school, where she has been able to teach students in 6th, 7th, and 8th grades how to speak English for the past 8 years.
It wasn’t until 2011, when Marlene began training with Ray Oliveira, who introduced her to boxing. She immediately fell in love with the sport. After training with others Marlene felt the need to push herself further and got involved in Zumba. Marlene went on to became a licensed Zumba instructor and began teaching.
While renting a space from another trainer and teaching classes, the unthinkable happened to her. She tore her ACL which forced her to take almost a year off from her journey through fitness. Within that year she faced a lot of doubt. The thought crossed her mind several times that she might never get back to where she was physically.
Turning that downtime into motivation, she laid out the plans and worked towards opening her own gym.
In November 2015, Marlene was able to open Keeping it Movin Fitness, where she holds everything from Zumba classes to boot camps. She doesn’t just indulge in fitness for the way her body looks, but to get away from the business of life. To Marlene it’s an outlet for expression and her hope is to share that with others. Through exercise you can become stress free and think clearer.
“I am a creator of my own reality.”
Meet Yanire Gomez, 33-year-old president and owner of Trilogy Laboratories.
As a lifelong New Bedford resident, Yanire has a fond appreciation for the city. After graduating high school, she attended Northeastern University, where she received her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. She started working at different correctional facilities with inmates, most of whom had come out of struggles with addiction. It was at that time she and her colleagues were discussing toxicology and how it was beneficial field to get involved in, as they could work toward advocating for clients before they ever became inmates.
Seeing how the city of New Bedford has been ravaged by drug use, she wanted to start her business here, where the people she had grown up with needed it the most. Upon dealing with personal loss in her own life from substance abuse, she knows how it can affect a family, which has driven her to open Trilogy Laboratories.
The unique thing about the philosophy behind Trilogy Testing Laboratories is that as a toxicology lab; that runs urinalysis testing to confirm or deny drug use, they also focus on patient advocacy and a medical continuum of care. Where large international labs are only worried about delivering a report, Yanire strives to provide an all encompassing relationship as a “Clinical Parter.”
Her focus is to work alongside her partners and educate them on how they could better treat their patients. Rather than simply providing a solitary piece of information, the test result, Trilogy aims to advocate for the patient, work alongside the medical providers, and bring awareness to her community concerning the effects of substance abuse. The focus is individualized treatment plans that will provide term care while decreasing relapses and recidivism.
“Mediocrity is madness. As people we are created for so much more but so often we are handicapped by our fears and complacency.”
Meet Ryan Tavares, 28-year-old scallop fisherman.
He grew up in the North End of New Bedford in the Lord Phillip housing development. Living in a small 2-bedroom apartment with his brother and mom, he understands the struggle that most people go through in our city. During his teenage years, he met the girl who would become his wife and she helped him stay out of the trouble going on around in his environment.
After graduating from New Bedford Voc-Tech he worked between a few construction jobs, not finding enjoyment in his work. It was around the age of 20 where he became interested in fishing, as his girlfriend’s father was a scallop fisherman. He started off working for little to no money, cleaning the boats and helping them with gear work, before they asked him to come on as a full-time fisherman.
It wasn’t too long before he had become passionate about his career path. With New Bedford being the number one fishing port in the world, we lose sight of the hard work and economic growth the industry brings into our city. Rather than focusing on the negative atmosphere that surrounds it, Ryan started a fishing focused clothing company, Slave of the Sea.
The ideology behind it is simple, as it represents the guys who don’t have the option to turn down the next trip out because their family depend on them fishing. In a sense they become “Slaves to the Sea” which can be a dual edged sword, a love/hate relationship. He has seen some decent success, selling several runs of gear at local boat supply shops and even selling at supply stores in Cape May, New Jersey.
His passion for New Bedford and seeing others succeed and understand the potential they have is an obvious thing. He is currently working with a local barber and friend to open a barbershop in downtown New Bedford, The New Bedford Barber Company. Their hope is to open a barbershop with a classy feel and a place for local artists and brands to get their feet off the ground, offering retail space and walls to hang art.
“You are not a product of your environment, you are a product of how you perceive your environment. If you grow up with everyone doing the wrong thing, you don’t have to follow suit but have the decision to make your own decisions.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #49: Tiffany Ferreira
Meet Tiffany Ferreira, a Research Assistant at the University of Massachusetts as part of a Doctoral fellowship and part-time Operations Manager at Southern Lights Solar.
As long as Tiffany could remember she had been good at math and during her high school years had even considered going to college to become a math teacher. With the push of several teachers from New Bedford High School (Ms. Daamguard, Mr. Viera, and Mr. Knickerson; just to name a few) she began her freshman year as a Math major at UMass Dartmouth.
After a few semesters her interests in math had shifted and she became a physics major. During her first few years in college she didn’t really get involved but it wasn’t until the faculty in the Math and Physics department invited her to go to the Undergraduate Women’s Physics conference where she really had a life changing event. During one of the sessions, someone mentioned how only 2 percent of women in undergraduate Physics programs would continue on to receive their Doctorate, and this fact bothered her.
From that point on she made it her mission to advocate for women in the math and science world. Upon graduating from the University of Massachusetts with her Degree in Science and Physics, she was invited to join a doctoral fellowship at the school, where she is studying how to numerically model the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
She is heavily involved with Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) working to help other people see that there are plenty of opportunities to grow and work in the fields of science, physics.
They have hosted events for OUR Sister’s School for girls on several occasions, teaching them to understand science using games and presentations.
“We have the potential to be a great hub like Boston and New Bedford should look to UMass for all of the opportunities that it has, rather than seeing it as ‘The closest school to go to so it is my last option.’”
Faces Of New Bedford – #50: Angel Diaz
Meet Angel Diaz, 28-year-old Math teacher, co-program director and DJ.
Angel moved to New Bedford in his early teenage years, after living in Florida and New York for his early childhood. His start in New Bedford wasn’t that great, getting kicked out of New Bedford High School for carrying a weapon on him to dropping out of the alternative high school. It wasn’t too long after that Angel realized he didn’t want to continue down the path of destruction he was on and went back for his GED at the age of 16. He was also avidly involved in music, working with two others to open his own professional studio, where he was recording and mixing music at the same age.
He then went on to work for a host of organizations where he helped youth, whether it was with their homework or creating lessons for them, all while continuing his secondary education. He got involved with Dream Out Loud, then Brick by Brick, and continued teaching teenagers music on and off for the past 14 years. It was in 2014, that he became the co-program director. Since then he has even worked alongside a group of teens on a project, which they performed for the President of Bermuda on the island. Angel is also a full time math teacher for the girls at the Our Sister School, which is a private charter school for low income girls.
Aside from teaching, Angel is also an entertainer. His involvement with music since such a young age has opened up the door for him to be able to work in various different platforms of music, from production to evening DJing. He has done tons of corporate events and parties but recently has teamed up with the Blessed Energy band. He will be joining them to tour New England this upcoming summer alongside a few other DJing opportunities he has.
“I’m an “edutainer,” I like to educate while entertaining. I was a person that the system failed so I didn’t want to see other kids go through that.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #51: Ryan McAfee
Meet Ryan Mcfee, 40-year-old fine artist from New Bedford. Ryan grew up playing sports, so being an artist was far from his mind.
After graduating high school, he moved to Boston where he attended the Suffolk University, majoring in History. At the time, the university bought the New England School of Art and Design, so he took a few electives in art, one being Intro to Oil Painting.
Living above a café and framing shop in Boston’s North end, he got some of his schoolwork framed at the shop below. The owner encouraged him to paint the buildings and restaurants that scattered “Little Italy”, which he did. The framing shop owner started selling his pieces, starting his career as a painter.
He relocated his studio from his little apartment to the SOWA building in South Boston during his infancy up until he was affected by the economy crash and moved back to New Bedford in 2011. He had been able to get closer to family and opened a studio space with his mother on Williams Street.
They started in a little storefront and as business got better for him he was able to claim the old storefront of the Artificial Marketplace. Being in New Bedford has giving him a large inspiration in his art, drawing from the history of whaling and fishing that has given this city its identity in history. He enjoys being able to be apart of all of the growth and creativity that is happening downtown.
“You have to work your butt off and be prepared to go through periods where you fail, but pick up the pieces and continue on with what you love.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #52: Colton Simmons
With the one year anniversary of the Faces of New Bedford we would like to give you a glimpse into the life of its creator!
Meet Colton Simmons, 27-year-old photographer and graphic designer. Colton grew up in United Front Homes with his mom. His mother did her best to keep him out the trouble that was rampant with gangs in the city during his neighborhood. With his focus on school and extracurricular activities, he was always involved in art, whether drawing, painting or music. The death of his father at age 16 was a pivotal moment for him, as it pushed him, more than ever, to get out of the circumstances that he had grown up in.
Upon graduating from Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical School, he attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, however after a year in a half in the Computer Science program, he could no longer afford school and his bills, which forced him to drop out.
Working dead-end job to dead-end job, he knew that he had to break free from the cycle and get back to school. After paying off the debt accumulated in his first time in college and with the support and encouragement of his wife and family, he enrolled at Bristol Community College in the Graphic Design program. There his love for photography and design was rekindled, even helping create what Faces of New Bedford has become today.
Colton has also done as much as possible to give back to the community by volunteering countless hours at local non-profit organizations and churches, trying to help bring hope back to city that has seen so much pain. He is currently graduating from Bristol Community College as the Salutatorian of his class and hoping to finish his undergraduate degree at the Rhode Island School of Design. Colton has also worked as the IT Administrator and most recently, the Graphic Designer for Teen Challenge New England, a non-profit drug rehabilitation program located in Brockton, MA.
“It’s been my faith that has allowed me to get this far and it is only my hope that others can see what God has been able to do in my life and the purpose He has for them.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #53: Rosannette Rivera
Meet Rosannette Rivera, 30-year old painter and teacher at New Bedford High School.
Rosannette was born in Puerto Rico but spent the first 12 years of her life in Central/South America and the Caribbean, as her father was a missionary who worked throughout these locations. Due to her families’ appearance, most people thought they were American, which caused hostility from the locals where they traveled. This caused Rosannette to spend a great deal indoors, where she went to drawing and other forms of art for refuge.
After her father’s service, they moved to the US and had a brief stay in New Jersey before they settled in New Bedford. Although she never expected to take art seriously, as she thought that you couldn’t find a future working in it, she met Ms. Riley at NBHS, who changed her view completely. She showed her the power art held to communicate and express things to people from any walk of life.
With the inspiration she received from her classes, she graduated and pursued a degree in Fine Art and Art Education at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. She began teaching art at Roosevelt middle school where she came across students who were living through extremely unfortunate circumstances. She used her position to be able to show those students how to use art as she had during her childhood and overcome their situations.
This has only continued to her current teaching position at New Bedford High School, where she is able to impact students at the most pivotal time of their lives, just before they journey off into what life has before them. Her hope is that she can continue to show her students what art became to her when she was in their position, and move on with a better appreciation and literacy for art.
“It’s not about pretty, it’s about taking the necessary steps to get better in the future.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #54: Edson Goncalves
Meet Edson Goncalves, 27-year-old systems engineer.
Edson’s mother saved money during his early life, to move him from Praia, Cape Verde to New Bedford to work towards a better life. Growing up in housing projects throughout the city most of his life, he had been exposed to so many things that troubled him. From friends who had been imprisoned for murder to friends who overdosed and passed away.
Knowing he wanted to become more than that and from a little inspiration from Star Wars, he chased the dreams of becoming an engineer. He saw all of this amazing technology in the movies and asked someone why we didn’t have any of it and they told him because engineers hadn’t created them yet. Doing his best to stay out of trouble, he graduated from New Bedford High School and attended UMass Dartmouth, where he received a degree in Electrical Engineering.
He had heard great things about working with Department of Defense so pursued a job with General Dynamics, who held multiple contracts with the U.S. Government. During his time there he worked with the networks and systems that have assisted our troops oversees in communicating with one another as they are out in the battlefield.
Wanting more out of his career he moved on from General Dynamics to Riverbed Technology, where he is currently helping improve network performance for Fortune 100 Companies. He understands the importance of communications and hasn’t let his dreams of Star Wars technology slip away, as he hopes to continue helping create and innovate better ways for the human race to stay in contact.
“Don’t follow the trend. You don’t have to do everything everyone else is doing because it most likely won’t lead to anywhere good. Don’t let your dreams die and continue until you achieve them.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #55: Joe Lopes
Meet Joe Lopes, 42-year-old loan officer and City Councilor for the City of New Bedford.
Spending his entire life living in New Bedford, he always had a huge love for the city. After graduating from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in Political Science and with some inspiration from one of his professors, Dr. Hackey, he went on to pursue his Masters Degree in International Business. His time at Johnson and Wales, where he received his Masters, was important because he was able to learn so much about the world, and himself, from the diverse group of students and teachers there.
Having a family who had always been involved in political campaigns and working towards social justice, he always wanted to do something to give back to the community he loved so much. Joe had run 3 times for the position of City Councilor and lost all three times. After his last run, he was offered a job to work under former-Mayor Lang in the New Bedford Economic Council, where he gained a vast knowledge about city infrastructure and politics.
In 2009, Joe ran for city council for his 4th time and won, making him the Councilman over Ward 6. This was huge for him because growing up in the south end was crucial to him becoming the man he has become, so he is honored to serve that area. In his time as councilman, he has worked on projects to renovate the playgrounds of Hazlewood and Ashley parks, making those locations once again a place for families to visit. He is also working with the city to build much needed new elementary schools to the ward.
“The world is bigger than your window, look at it, explore it, and seek it.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #56 Jess Bregoli
Meet Jess Bregoli, 32-year-old gardener and sculptor.
Jess moved to the area when she was a child from Oregon so that her mother could finish her Masters degree at UMass Dartmouth. Growing up she would work with her mentor, Emily Johns, taking care of the waterfront gardens at the Seaport in Downtown New Bedford. At the age of 16 she left school and backpacked through New England and ended up in Vermont. When she was 17 she realized that she needed to finish high school and came back home.
During her early 20s she attempted to complete a degree in Art History at several local colleges but left the area to pursue a relationship and business ventures in Atlanta, Georgia. While in Georgia she owned a coffee shop/art gallery and ran a high end clothing store. She then had her son, Sage, and it was around that time that she realized that she wanted to do large scale sculptures about environmental issues. Upon her split with Sage’s father, she moved back to New England.
Back home, she decided to go back to school and finish her degree, but got involved with the sculpture program at UMass, seeing she hadn’t had any formal training and wanted to start creating. Upon graduation from UMass, Jess has worked with several local committees, including being co-chair of New Bedford Beautiful, freelancing as the Art Administrator for the City of New Bedford, and working with the New Bedford Cultural Council. Working with these departments, she has worked for the last two years on the Seaport Art Walk, where local artists gather to bring to life our Seaport area with murals and sculptures of all shapes and sizes.
Faces Of New Bedford – #58 – Frank Stephens
Meet Frank Stephens, 62-year-old security officer at St. Luke’s Hospital.
Frank was born in Kansas City, but grew up in Newport and Providence, Rhode Island. Upon graduating high school, he spent some time at Tennessee State University before transferring to American International College (AIC) in Springfield, where he received his degree in Business and Economics.
After getting married he relocated to New Bedford, where he fell in love with the city immediately. He worked for 14 years as a production manager of sonar at Raytheon. When the company sold the technology to the US government, Frank was laid off. Getting involved with the correction department, he started working at the Ash Street Prison.
During his 20 years with the Sheriff’s Department, he worked his way up to a Captain at the Dartmouth House of Corrections, a position he retired from earlier this year. He always treated his inmates the way he would want to be treated, so it was encouraging to run into them years later and see the impact he had in helping change their lives.
He also spent a good portion of time owning his own security business, which serviced notable clients such as Mo Vaughn, MC Hammer, as well as various New England Patriot’s and Boston Celtic’s players. This experience led him to taking a per diem position as a security officer for Southcoast Health, where he feels blessed to work. The hospital is like a small city and he loves to be able to help out in anyway that he can while there, even if that means getting water for a patient on a busy floor during rounds or walking staff to their cars at night.
“Follow the way of the Lord’s passages, do unto others you want to be done unto you. That goes a long way and it’s what allowed me to be fair in my time of security and corrections.”
Faces Of New Bedford – #59 Sarah Kocur
Meet Sarah Kocur, 28-year-old academic advisor/adjunct instructor and small business owner. As far back as she could remember, her mom, grandmother and nana had sewn. Being of European decent, it wasn’t uncommon for the women to make their own clothes, so she picked up on it and found excitement in creating her own pieces.
As she got older and had graduated high school, she started attending Bristol Community College. She had always found it difficult to continue her education and wanted to give up many times, but through the support of her family, she pushed on. During her time at BCC, she started as a work study and as she moved on to UMass Dartmouth and eventually Eastern Nazarene, where she obtained her Masters in Science – Management, she continued advancing her career at BCC.
In 2011, she became a full-time employee and also teaches courses on college success. Through her position as an advisor and instructor, she finds it effective to share with her students that there were so many times that she wanted to quit, but kept pushing hard and it was worth it in the end.
Alongside her endeavors with BCC, she owns LOVEmoda (which translated from Polish means “Love Fashion”), a purse and clothing company based out of New Bedford. As she became older she turned her passion for sewing into something that she, after the push from friends and family, could make into a career. Starting off with just clutches, she has opened doors for herself, selling her products on Etsy, at SoWa in Boston, with the Etsy Mill Gypsies throughout New England, and several of the Craft-O-Rama exhibits held in New Bedford. Her hope is to grow LOVEmoda, creating accessories for men’s fashion as well.
Faces Of New Bedford #60 – Trevor Carter
Meet Trevor Carter, 30-year-old business manager of Carter’s Clothing and Footwear.
Trevor has always been involved in his family’s business as long as he could remember, starting to work at the business at the age of 11. Carter’s Clothing was opened by his grandfather, William “Bill” carter in 1947, which began as an army surplus store that became a sporting good store and is today the supplier of sneakers and clothing to consumers in Downtown New Bedford.
After high school, Trevor attended BCC and graduated with an associates degree in Business Management, all while taking over the responsibilities as store manager of his father’s business. It is important for him to be apart of the hard work that his family has invested in their company, as they have become a name that people could trust.
He enjoys that he is in the heart of the city, as he gets to be apart of the rich and cultural experience, all while meeting people from different socio-economic backgrounds. Trevor actually hopes to see more retail stores open in the downtown area, as it would create healthier competition in the market and drive more people down there to shop.
“With the transformation I have seen in the past 19 years..I can’t imagine what I’m gonna see in the next 19 years.”
Faces Of New Bedford #61- Yesenia Miranda-Santiago
Meet Yesenia Miranda-Santiago, 26-year-old New Bedford Police Officer and Army Combat Veteran. Yesenia was born in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States when she was 4 years old. Growing up she wanted to serve in the military, as she took great pride in her new home and wanted to see what life in the service was all about.
After graduating from Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech, Yesenia spent a semester in BCC before realizing that she wasn’t ready for school. Inn 2009 Yesenia enlisted in the Army and not soon after returning from basic training, found out that she would be deployed to Iraq. Only 19 and scared, she left in February of 2010 and was trained as a military police officer.
During her time in Iraq, Yesenia worked with the Iraqi Police and helped to train at the academies in Baghdad. It was a tough adjustment being halfway across the world from her family and only having spotty internet to Skype them on holidays, however, she endured the long 11 months there.
Upon returning to the United States, with some motivation from other officers she met during her time abroad, Yesenia enrolled in the police academy. After graduating she became a New Bedford Patrol Officer on February 14, 2013 and has been serving the city ever since. In lieu of recent negative light on police officers, she has seen an amazing amount of support from the community, which has given her ease while on the job.
“Don’t let anything hold you back, you always have a choice in how your future unfolds.”
Faces Of New Bedford #62 – Debra Perry
Meet Debra Perry, 52-year-old Singer and Vocal Coach.
Debra has always loved singing and teaching, even organizing the children in her neighborhood and practicing Christmas Carols in October, only at the age of 9. As she got older she continued to perfect her voice, training with Katie Linder-Tetzel at the Music Center.
Debra attended the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and studied Music and Psychology, because she wanted to eventually work as music therapist. Upon graduating, she sang for various bands, choirs, and events, including weddings, baptisms, and corporate functions. Her most memorable moment was singing with a choir in a church in Leningrad, Russia which hadn’t had any music for 100 years.
Debra taught at as a Vocal coach at the Music Center for 11 years. She also taught under the direction of Jeannie at her voice studio in Boston. During this time, she learned the technique that she has been using for the past 20 years. In 2004, Debra then opened her own studio in New Bedford, The Vocal Development Studio. She opened the studio in New Bedford, because their weren’t studios in the city that taught vocalists to gain control of their voice, while also building a strong stage presence and confidence in their vocal abilities.
In her time as a Vocal Coach, Debra has had the opportunity to train vocalist who have gone on to lead lasting careers, such as Devin Lima (LFO), Sean Gallagher (Beyond the Embrace), Aoife Clancy, and many more. She has also worked in studio with big names like Denny Dias (Steely Dan) and Dinky Dawson (Tour Manager and Sound Engineer of Fleetwood Mac).
“You have to think of yourself like an athlete. Singing takes a lot of discipline. It isn’t what you see on TV. It takes more than natural talent. You need to train.”
Faces Of New Bedford #63 – Robert Mendes
Meet Robert Mendes, Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater New Bedford.
Robert grew up in the cities south end, before moving into the house his parents bought just a few blocks from the program. Almost immediately his mother had him and his siblings signed up and they began attending everyday afterschool.
Soon after his time at the Club, he enjoyed helping the Gym Director, Chet Travers, gather equipment and form intramural leagues. Robert did this throughout his teenage years and started working as an aid in the Gym before he graduated High School. It was during his years there where saw kids from all walks of life coming together, some with no guidance besides the club, grow and see success they wouldn’t normally have.
He stayed on at the Boys and Girls Club and it morphed into a career for him. He’s worked as a basketball coach for the past 40 years. He took over the position as the Physical Director, transitioned to the Program Director, and eventually became the Executive Director, which he has been doing for the last 18 years.
He’s enjoyed being able to impart to them all of the things that his mentors had to him in his youth. When Robert became the Executive Director he knew he didn’t want to stay pent up in his office all day, but become apart of these children’s life and push them to be respectful and take advantage of every opportunity that is awarded to them.
“The kids are the most important aspect of this job and organization. You can never put yourself in a level where you aren’t in touch with the kids.”
Faces Of New Bedford #64 – Rayana Grace
Meet Rayana Grace, 24-year-old Youth Development Director at the YMCA.
Rayana, who has lived in the city her entire life, couldn’t imagine living and working anywhere else. After graduating from Boston College with a degree in Sociology and African/African-Diaspora studies, she had friends who took their skills and talents elsewhere, as she followed after her intuition to return home and seek employment.
Realizing the importance of giving back to the city that helped raise her she started working as a case manager at the Harbour House. The Harbour House caters to homeless families that are trying to get back on their feet, providing them with a place to live and a case manager, who can help plug them into the services offered in the city. She enjoyed this job, as it opened her eyes to the difficulties that others face in the city and gave her compassion to be able to do her best to help them.
After her time with Harbor House, she started working for the YMCA as the Youth Development Director, which was a position that hadn’t been held for 8 years prior to her employment there. With the Y, Rayana is able to create and maintain programs for the children who attend the downtown location. She has helped establish a drama club, dancing classes, and a plethora of other services during her time there.
Her hopes are to be able to empower the children to recognize that anything that they are looking for outside of themselves is already within them. So if they are looking for love or strength or faith, those are already gifts within them.
Meet Shelley Cardoos, 36-year-old Artist, Business Owner, and Executive Director of EforAll (Entrepreneur for All). Shelley located to New Bedford while attending the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth in 1998, where she obtained a Bachelors Degree in Sculpture. Upon graduation, she started working at AHEAD as a color picker and eventually became the manager of the creative department.
During the 12 years she spent there, she pursued her passions in her free time, playing and singing in several bands and helping Elissa Paquette start CRAFT-O-RAMA. CRAFT-O-RAMA began as a seasonal holiday pop-up shop. For the past few years the shop has opened just after Thanksgiving and remained open until Christmas.
She has enjoyed providing an outlet for local artists and crafters a place to sell their work and understand that there is a market to make money with their talents. Shelley is excited to be opening the Craft-O-Rama as a full-time store front on Purchase street in downtown New Bedford.
After 12 years with AHEAD, she left to become the Executive Director of the Southcoast expansion of the Lowell/Lawrence based organization, EforALL. EforALL is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to accelerating economic and social impact through entrepreneurship in mid-sized cities. With the organization, she has worked in collaboration with her colleagues to help locals with a passion for entrepreneurship make strides toward their dreams of owning their own businesses.
“This community has so many rich cultures and a variety of knowledge and the more we see people work together, the more growth we will see in our community.”
Faces Of New Bedford #66 – Linée Mello-Frost
Meet Linée Mello-Frost, 27-year-old Registered Nurse, Dance Instructor, and Head Field Hockey Coach for the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. (Photo by Josh Souza)
For as long as Linée could remember she’d been active in dancing. She went to Center Stage Dance Studio for the majority of her dance career and was a member of the Competition Team. During her sixth grade year she started playing field hockey at Friends Academy and immediately fell in love.
She continued to play field hockey, ran track and danced throughout her high school years at NBHS. Upon graduation, she had several scholarship offers from Division One schools to play field hockey and to run track. Being so connected with her family and community, she decided to stay local and play and run for UMass Dartmouth. She had always wanted to help others so it was fitting that she also enrolled in their Nursing program. During this time, Linée continued to teach dance at the school she had once learned everything she knows.
After her last year at UMass, Linée decided to stay on as the assistant coach of the women’s field hockey team while balancing her new career as a nurse at Tobey hospital. A few years later, Linée took on the role as Head Coach of the team, which she has done for the past 2 years. She loves that in all aspects of her life, whether at the University, at the hospital, or at the dance school, she is able to help others move forward in their lives toward a goal. Helping someone that is recovering from an intense surgery, working for the win on the field or nailing their dance routine flawlessly, truly gives Linée joy.
“Be the type of person you want to meet. In the end we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”
Faces Of New Bedford #67 – Cedric Josey
Meet Cedric Josey, 36-year-old Musician and teacher.
Cedric grew up in Brockton and moved to New Bedford when he began to attend the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, where he studied English, Drama/Film alongside a minor in African Studies. Having being involved in music since his early years of singing in the choir at his family’s church, it was no surprise that he joined several bands during his time in college.
It was not long after his short stint in a few bands that he found himself living alone in an apartment in New Bedford, face to face with his first guitar. He loved song writing and was determined to learn guitar, so that in the chance things didn’t work with a band, he could still make and play the music he loved. Remembering the trouble he had with neighbors learning saxophone as a child, he took up finger picking in order to keep from making loud music.
Cedric had graduated from college and started working with the youth in the area through substitute teaching positions and with the Trustees of Reservations. He felt it was important to be an African American male mentor in these youth’s lives because it showed them another path was available to them than what society or their peers might lead them to believe.
He has also had the opportunity to work with local agencies like Destination New Bedford, where in collaboration with Ben Gilbarg, he wrote and produced a song “Being in New Bedford.” This song was used to as a promotion piece for the different things that our city has to offer. Between local gigs and his interactions with the kids at the schools he teaches at Cedric sees so much potential for our city to grow into the great place it once was.
Faces Of New Bedford #68 – Milagros Sanchez
Meet Milagros Sanchez, 28 year-old Outreach manager and student.
Milagros was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and relocated to Uptown Manhattan with her family in hopes of a better life. They all lived separately in different households until her family could get a job to afford an apartment for all of them. During her high school years, she got involved with the wrong crowd and ended up pregnant with her twin daughters and dropped out of high school.
For the next several years, Milagros found herself stuck, moving from abusive relationship to abusive relationship. In 2012, she had decided that enough was enough and in the middle of the night during one of the worst situations she had been placed in, she packed all of her and her daughter’s things in trash bags and fled to New Bedford.
A case worker had suggested the city to her, as there were tons of opportunities for her to get her life on track there. She had even been able to transfer to the CVS here and continue in her position as a pharmacy tech. Shortly after though, due to the fact that she didn’t have at least her G.E.D. and couldn’t take the Massachusetts Pharmacy Technician certification test, she was without a job.
She knew she had no other option but to go back to school and get her G.E.D. Milagros didn’t just stop there, she continued to pursue education at BCC, knowing that she wanted to educate and raise awareness for domestic violence. She quickly found herself involved in many school activities and part of the Commonwealth Honors Program, all while juggling jobs and raising her two children.
This past spring Milagros graduated and is now attending Simmons College in Boston pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Social Work. She also is the South Coast Energy Challenge Community Outreach Manager for the Marion Institute, where she provides the community with resources to save money with their electricity and helps families who are less fortunate get plugged into programs like PACE.
Faces Of New Bedford #69 – Michael Rocha
(Photo by Josh Souza) Meet Michael Rocha, 41 year-old Cardiologist. Michael grew up in New Bedford and graduated from NBHS in 1993.
He finished his undergrad in chemistry at UMass Dartmouth and it was during this time he realized that he wanted to go into healthcare, as he had a passion for helping people. He began his Doctor of Medicine at UMass Medical School and during his residency/fellowship at Tufts Medical Center, he specialized in Cardiology.
He knew that he wanted to come back to New Bedford and give back to the community that he grew up in, so upon completion Michael moved back and became a cardiologist with Hawthorn Medical Associates. He takes pride in helping patients, not just through prescriptions for medications, but by prescribing lifestyle changes, knowing most heart disease can be prevented by diet, exercise, avoiding smoking and stress reduction.
This also goes hand in hand with another initiative that Michael is involved with, like New Bedford Wellness Initiative. In 2014, New Bedford was dubbed as the least healthy in Massachusetts for people age over 65 and he couldn’t sit back and let that continue. Working together with other physicians and local groups he helped start New Bedford Well, which started with a walk around Buttonwood park that raised awareness for the health issues. Now they hold a Sunday wellness program at the Boys and Girls Club focused on diet, exercise and stress reduction along with a pop-up farmers market.
“People have to realize that they are their own best physicians. They have to get beyond just the pills and procedures and realize that they have the power to change within themselves.”
Faces of New Bedford #70 – John Thomas
Meet John Thomas, 48 year-old owner and director of Thomas Consultants which manages and oversees multiple recovery homes in New Bedford and Fall River, conducts interventions, and provides recovery coaching.
John grew up in a great home with a single mother. As an only child, he spent a lot of time out of the house with friends. Diagnosed with ADHD at an early age, John was prescribed with Ritalin and quickly learned that he could abuse the medication. He would act out and seek attention, attempting to fill the void of not having his father around. When he didn’t want to deal with being reprimanded for his actions, he would double his dose of Ritalin to enter a drug induced state.
As he got older his drug abuse progressed – he went from smoking to drinking and from drinking to harder drugs like cocaine and opiates. He managed to control this abuse while finishing his degree at Mount Ida in Boston where he received his Associates Degree in Funeral Service and Embalming. At that time, he was living in Brockton and working at funeral home in Dorchester during the day and going out and partying all night.
This lifestyle lasted for a while until he and his future wife decided they needed to move back to New Bedford. They bought a house and tried to act like everything was fine. John and his wife knew that his addiction had gotten much worse, which caused him to move out.
Bouncing around and being homeless brought him to a very low place in life, so low that John thought about killing himself. At that point he was living in a family friend’s room. He looked up and saw the reading of Footsteps, that was always hanging in his grandmothers house, and at that point fell to his knees and surrendered his life.
It was a long road to recovery, but after a few years John had the opportunity open a recovery home with a partner. Eventually taking over the home, John has made it his life’s passion to help those who are in similar positions he once found himself. Now reunited with his wife, he has 4 recovery homes called Recovery Commons where he strives to help those struggling with drug addiction.
Faces of New Bedford #71 – Nicholas Walecka
Meet Nicholas Walecka, 34 year-old Freelance Journalist, Photographer, Teacher. Nick spent a short while at UMass Dartmouth after graduating from high school, majoring in Business.
Not sure that the field of study was for him, he dropped out and started working for his families’ trucking business. During that time Nick got to see the country, but still felt like that wasn’t what he wanted to spend the rest of his life doing.
He returned home and after receiving his associates degree, returned to UMass where he eventually found a passion for writing, realizing he always did better with papers than he had taking tests. Graduating with a degree in Creative Writing, he started writing for the Advocate, a weekly paper run by the Standard Times focused on Acushnet and Fairhaven. There he gained immense knowledge of journalism and confidence in his writing, which opened doors for him to work with news outlets such as the Wareham Week, Dartmouth Week, The New Bedford Guide, and the Standard Times.
After a few years of working between these publications, he craved another career change and began substitute teaching in the New Bedford Public system. Nicholas was excited to fill in for a teacher who was promoted from her position at Trinity Middle school, an alternative school for children in New Bedford. After a year of substituting in that position, he was hired on full-time and is excited to inspire this kids.
Aside from his career as a teacher, he works with the HOPE Collaborative, a program organized by the New Bedford Police Department and City, where he tutors inner city kids. He is so thankful to be able to be apart of the community in New Bedford because it was the same community that has been able to push him and encourage him in everything he does.
“New Bedford has such a welcoming and supporting community, especially in the downtown area. You don’t see businesses competing but helping each other out”
Faces of New Bedford #72 – David Costa
Meet David Costa, 34-year old Chiropractor and DOT Certified Medical Examiner.
As a lifelong native of New Bedford, he has watched his family, both immigrants from Portugal, worked hard to provide a good life for him and his brother. His father had is humble start in a factory he worked in for 13 years, until getting laid off due to production moving out of the country. It was then he took a gamble and started a lobster bait company with David’s grandfather.
It was this sample of hard work that motivated David to attend Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, where he received his Bachelors degree and then went on to receive his Doctorate in Chiropractic at the University of Bridgeport. Being mentored by his Godfather, Dr. Antonio DaCunha, he was quickly drawn to the chiropractic profession due to his want to help people.
In his 8 years practicing, he has had two offices, one in downtown New Bedford and one in Wareham. During that time, he has become certified by the state of Massachusetts as a DOT Medical Examiner, which makes him one of a few people who can actually approve CDL Drivers, heavy machinery personel, just to name a few, fit for service.
He enjoys being able to help people who are in major pain and seeing their progress as they get better. He is also happy to be moving to a new location on Mt. Pleasant street, where he will have more room to fully service all of his patients. David also loves the time he gets to spend when he isn’t helping others, with his wife and three kids.
“Hard work always pays off, if you work hard and treat people right good will come to you.”
Faces of New Bedford #73 – Manuela Rosa
Meet Manuela Rosa, 39-year-old Program Director at the LifeWork Project.
Manuela moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Cape Verde. She grew up in housing projects with a single mother who worked hard to make a way for her in this country. She graduated from New Bedford High School and after time at BCC and UMass Dartmouth, she received her Bachelors Degree in Sociology with a concentration in Social Work.
Manuela soon began working for the state with the adult population. She assisted them in getting employment and providing stability for their families. With the encouragement of her mentor, Maria Grace, she ended up leaving her employment with the state and helping running the 3-year pilot program through the Women’s Fund of Southeastern, MA, the LifeWork Project.
With the LifeWork Project, Manuela helps students who are newly enrolled at Bristol Community College who are single mothers or heads of house hold. Having grown up in similar environments she enjoys that the program’s focus is to create self sufficiency in the women’s life and she couldn’t see herself doing anything else for work. Since coming to New Bedford from Cape Verde she has felt that there is no other place she could call home and want to give back to than here.
“Sometimes people just need a little help in order for them to recognize their potential.”
Faces of New Bedford #74 – Courtney Miranda
Meet Courtney Miranda, 23-year-old Event Coordinator/Manager of Business Development and Field Hockey Coach.
Courtney has been involved with sports her entire life and during her time at New Bedford High School fell in love with field hockey. It was the impact that her coaches, Coach Rezendes and Kieltyka, had on her that taught her perseverance and and consistency.
After graduating and attending Umass Amherst, Courtney had, for the first time in her life, been in a place where she wasn’t playing sports competitively. This is what pushed her to come back, after receiving her bachelor’s degree in Communication, to come back to NBHS and coach the field hockey team she once played on.
Fresh out of college and looking to start her career, she got introduced to a group of gentlemen who were in need of an Event Coordinator and Manager of Business Development for the restaurant they were planning on opening. After meeting with them and seeing the space of the soon-to-be Greasy Luck Brewery, she knew this is where she wanted to be.
As someone who has grown up in New Bedford her entire life and spending tons of time in the downtown area, Courtney felt it would be an amazing place to work. Hoping to assist the brewery in becoming a staple in the modern renaissance that is taking place in the cities growing community, she envisions a place where artist, musician’s, and anyone chasing their dream can get their start.
Faces Of New Bedford #75 – Alison Wells
Meet Alison Wells, 44-year-old Artist and College professor.
Alison grew up on the island of Trinidad, where from a very early age she knew that she wanted to be an artist when she grew up. One day in class, a teacher embarrassed her for her grandeur ideas and told her she would most likely starve if she tried to make a living with art. This deterred her from keeping that a reality.
Once she graduated high school, she attempted to pursue a degree in architecture, as it seemed like the best way to blend art and a very plausible career. Becoming easily bored after a year, she received a letter notifying her she had received the scholarship she applied for 2 years earlier, to the Edna Manly College of Visual and Performing Arts in Jamaica. It was there she received a Bachelors in Fine Arts.
She returned to Trinidad, where she worked in advertising and teaching high school for quite some time, until her former teacher urged her to get her Master’s degree. After taking a huge leap of faith, she moved to New Bedford, alone and without any friends or family, enrolled at UMass Dartmouth’s masters program.
She fell in love with New Bedford, as the coastline city gave an island girl like herself a sense of comfort. Alison had come to New Bedford at a unique time in the city’s history, as the artists of the area were developing a renaissance, that has had ripple effects on the art scene we have seen develop over the last decade.
She graduated from UMass and began teaching drawing and painting between there and Bristol Community College. She loves that she has been able to turn what she has loved her entire life into a reality and that New Bedford played in integral part in it.
Faces Of New Bedford #76 – Bienvenido “Ben” Perez
Meet Bienvenido “Ben” Perez, 26-year-old Lawyer.
Bienvenido was born and raised in New Bedford by his mother and father. He first thought of getting involved with law at the early age of 11, when his family was evicted from their home and faced homelessness. Because his family made just above the amount needed for a free lawyer and didn’t make enough to afford to pay for one, they were forced to live between family members house for an entire summer.
Quite a few years later, Ben graduated from New Bedford High School and with a full tuition scholarship to Roger Williams University, he embarked on his journey to becoming a lawyer. During a mentorship program, he shadowed an attorney and that solidified his decision to practice law. Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice he enrolled in the Law School at Roger Williams.
Now he is practicing law, alongside his wife and father-in-law, in both New Bedford and Rhode Island. He has been able to give back and help families facing the same situations his family did, depending on the severity of the case. He loves that with his career he is able to service and give back to the people of the city where he grew up.
“Are we as big as Providence, no. Are we as big as Boston, no. We have a lot of character and that is all that matters.”
Faces Of New Bedford #77 – Richard Gormley
Meet Richard Gormley, 40-year-old Photographer and Graphic Designer.
Rick and his family moved to the area from Cincinnati when he was eight. Raised on a diet of Activision and Hana-Barbara cartoons he would eventually graduate from Dartmouth High and get a degree in Film and Video from Michigan.
From there he moved to Los Angeles where he had the (mis)fortune to work on several straight to VHS movies. After 4 years in LA, Rick moved to Tokyo Japan, where he taught English to natives and although it wasn’t what he’d gone to school for it was his calling. He fell in love with the people and the country. Unable to accurately describe the city to friends back in the States he started to take photographs.
Richard returned to New Bedford in 2009 and although he was unsure of what to do he knew he wanted to pursue his love for film, photography and design. Working a few odd jobs upon arrival, he quickly got working on pieces and featured a Tokyo inspired photo collage at Jeremiah Hernandez’s U.G.L.Y. Gallery. He noted Jeremiah for his inspiration and encouragement to continue to pursue his desires as a creative.
His day job is as a graphic designer for Ahead USA, where he works on logo development and product photography. His hobbie for photography has led him to photograph weddings, family portraits, fashion catalogs and most recently still lives. His latest show at Alison Wells Studio in downtown New Bedford alongside Andrew Kepsinki and Peter Pereira features black and white photos of locally grown flowers.
His hope is to continue inspiring the youth of New Bedford through his work, especially the designs he partners with local skateboard shop Solstice to produce. Nothing makes him happier than to see the youth full of local pride.
“Everything I’m doing now I didn’t go to school for and although I am not wealthy, I am happy. Be happy, because we are all going to be working 70 hours a week, so you better like what you are doing. And if you want to get good get ready to fail, and enjoy failing.”
Faces Of New Bedford #78 – Edwin Cartagena
Meet Edwin Cartagena, 31-year-old Community & Family Engagement Coordinator at City on a Hill Charter School and President of United New Bedford.
Edwin was born and raised in Brockton, MA until the age of 9. During that time, both of his parents were struggling with addiction, while he and his sister were taken in by their grandmother.
At age 9, his mother had gotten custody of them and he moved with her to New Bedford. Although she was still struggling with her addiction, they stayed with her as they bounced from different people’s homes and motels, until finally getting their own home in Presidential Heights. While living there, Edwin got involved with the street lifestyle and all that it encompassed, which led to him getting kicked out of school his senior year and then his home.
This lasted for a long time and brought him to the lowest place he has ever been in his life. He was facing legal issues and because of that wasn’t able to get a job to provide for his girlfriend, now wife, and child. He attempted to take his life but at the last minute he made a plea for God to show himself if he was real to save him from this. It was then he remembered everything that happened until that point and saw every moment God had been there to save him from destruction.
Now Edwin uses all of those bad experiences to provide hope for others. He has since then gotten his GED and is attending school to get his degree in Business Management. He also works for the City on a Hill Charter Public school, where he works to provide families with resources on how to get enrolled in the school and puts on events for those students and families already involved with the school.
Edwin also runs the operations of United New Bedford, an organization he and his wife started in 2013 to help bring life, hope, and love back to this city. Most noted for their I Love my City event at Buttonwood part which follows the God Belongs in My City prayer walk from city hall, those are just the beginning ideas they have. With the newly implemented Adopt A Block program, they hope to reach all of the broken and hurting communities in New Bedford, one street at a time.
“If you have breath, you have life, and if you have life, you have purpose. No matter what may come your way. Never give up.”
Faces Of New Bedford #79 – Dena Haden
Meet Dena Haden, 34-year-old Co-founder/Co-Owner of Groundwork and artist.
Dena had always been interested in art as she used it to communicate from an early age. As she got older and realized her passion, she decided to pursue it in college. Attending the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, she double majored in painting and illustration, in the hopes to have a feasible career drawing and using painting for her passion.
Upon her graduation, she moved to Boston, where she taught at Newbury College in Brookline. As an adjunct professor, she taught foundational art studio classes but wanted to get more out of her career in teaching. With that in mind, Dena went to Philadelphia, where she attended the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. She was challenged during this time because she felt that she could just draw or paint anything she wanted and felt stagnant, which is where Dena fell in love with sculpting.
Her plan was to move to New York and continue teaching and pursuing art, but due to an illness in her immediate family, she moved back to the area. She was teaching for a nonprofit art program that serviced inner-city kids, while also attending an artist critique group in Boston, which helped her gain inspiration for her art at the time. This has led to her constant work and her recent installations at Haskell’s Garden and Ropeworks.
While meeting with her life-long friend, Sarah Athanas, who had just moved back to the area and was telling Dena that she wishes there was a local group like the one she attended in Boston. That is where they came up with the idea for Groundwork, the creative co-working space on Purchase street in New Bedford. It is a place that is home to many local entrepreneurs and start up companies, including Pidalia, Eforall, Marion Institute, and many others.
Faces Of New Bedford #80 – Adam Davenport
Meet Adam Davenport, 29-year-old business owner and environmental designer.
Adam was born and raised in the area and after high school went to the University of New Hampshire, where he majored in civil engineering. It was during this time that he really became passionate about sustainability, pushing him to take as many environmental courses as possible to fully understand the subject.
Upon graduation he traveled for some time before returning to Massachusetts, where he became a teacher at a therapeutic day program in Waltham. After a few years of teaching, Adam quit his job to start a company, Terra Cura (which in Latin means Earth Care). Terra Cura is a regenerative design and consulting company who’s mission is, “to promote the social ethics of land care, people care, and equity, locally and globally.
With Terra Cura, Adam has worked on an urban agriculture initiative with a local organization, the Food Security Network. He and his team have worked to research and analyze how New Bedford can be impacted by a stronger local food system with an increase in urban agriculture.
He also worked on similar projects for the Marion Institute, most prominently the Grow Education Program. Through this program, they have built 11 community gardens at public schools throughout the city. The main idea behind the project is to create community spaces, not to feed the community, but to create a platform for people to come together and build connections, while gaining skills and abilities.
Faces Of New Bedford #81 – Joseph Cordeiro
Meet Joseph Cordeiro, 52-year-old New Bedford Police chief.
Joseph moved to New Bedford with his family from St. Michael, Portugal when he was only 2 years old. He never considered becoming a police officer growing up, but when he was 19, he owned his own sports supply store and worked as a baker. At both of those jobs, he ran into a lot of police officers that encouraged him to join the academy.
Joseph joined the academy and initiated as a police officer on June 1st, 1986. Throughout his time serving our city there have been a handful of occasions that remind him why he loves what he does. Early on in his career, he responded to a house call of a young boy named Joey and during that time he bonded with the boy and took him to safety. Years later he was preparing for a parade and a young boy yell out “Joey,” just to find the boy he had helped years before. It was then that he realized that all though they may not see the effect, police officers can impact everyone they help.
After years of schooling, attaining even his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and working in many departments of the force, Joseph had the opportunity to apply to become the chief of police. In his short time, as chief, he has already done plenty to help create a more positive atmosphere in New Bedford. He recently organized with the police department and Target to host a day where the Police officers could pair with a child who is less fortunate and get gifts for them and their family.
“If people care for the each other and the community, our city can become the great city that it has been historically and is.”
Faces Of New Bedford #82 – Shonna Ryan
Meet Shonna Ryan, 29-year-old instructional technologist and founder of non-profit organization Civic Support.
Shonna moved to the area when she started attending the University of Massachusetts, where she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication.
Shonna currently works at Providence College, where she is an Instructional Technologist. This position focuses on running the learning management system for the school, which the professors use to organize their classes. She trains the faculty, and helps them with any needs that they may have with classroom technology or teaching software.
With friend and fellow UMD grad student, Kevin Pelissier, she decided to start Civic Support, an organization focused on helping non-profits with their outreach efforts through marketing and PR services. Seeing that they were already working with non-profits throughout their graduate program, it was easy for them to help target the needs of each organization.
Their hope with Civic Support was not just to provide marketing services, but to train those community causes in best practices for up keeping their own outreach efforts.
“One great, strong, unselfish soul in every community could actually redeem the world. –Elbert Hubbard”
Faces Of New Bedford #83 – Ian Abreu
Meet Ian Abreu, 31-year-old City Councilor At-Large and Manager of Public Policy and Business Development with the Chamber of Commerce.
Growing up in the south end of New Bedford with his family, Ian has immense love for the city he was raised in. Watching his mother run for a councilor position in the 90s, when he was only 9, sparked a fascination with public office and helping advocate for the community.
He attended Bridgewater University, where he attained his Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and soon began working for the region Chamber of Commerce. With the Chamber, Ian is responsible for working with employers and businesses throughout the Greater New Bedford Region to help them build their companies and make them profitable.
In 2015, Ian ran for the position of City Councilor at-Large, just like his mother had in the past, and successfully won. He takes immense pride in helping the city that raised him, as he hopes to provide a place that is not only safe for him and his family, but for every resident that calls New Bedford home.
“Every resident of New Bedford who is ready and able to work, should be able to and I want to foster an environment that is conducive to do that.”
Faces Of New Bedford #84 – Jose Rego
Meet Jose Rego, 45-year-old Chef and Restaurant Owner. Jose grew up in a Portuguese family where cooking was central to their lifestyle. Their Sundays consisted of large feasts, where Joe learned so much about cooking.
As Joe got older and eventually graduated from high school, he became a pipefitter in Newport. Due to the nature of the job, he would get laid off every summer, which led him and a friend to move to North Carolina to help build a golf course. During that time as roommates his friend would clean and Joe would cook. Blown away by his talent, he encouraged him to go to school for culinary, and went as far as getting him an application to Johnson and Wales.
This was only the start to Jose’s cooking career, as he finished school and went on to work in various restaurants across the country. During sometime in Atlanta, he heard about an open casting for the Food Network television-show Chopped, which he entered and was selected. He performed so well on the show that he finished in first. He also went on to compete in another of the network’s show Cutthroat, which he also won and even competed in a Battle of the Champions special.
With all this experience, he returned home to create his own culinary dream. Alongside Mario Ribeiro, of The Pasta House, they have teamed up to open the Cask & Pig. Their hope is to bring a gastro pub to North Dartmouth, which is teeming with corporate-owned restaurants, and give their patrons a place where there is quality service, food, and drinks.
Jose’s biggest philosophy isn’t about receiving though, as he tries to spend as much time helping others as possible. He has, throughout the years, offered his chef services up for non-profit organizations to raffle off at banquet silent auctions, which has helped him raise over $65,000 for causes such as NOAH’s Foundation, Prince Henry Society, St. Francis School, St. Anthony Church Choir, and so many more.
“It’s not all about receiving, it’s about giving back.”
Faces Of New Bedford #85 – Gloria Williams
Meet Gloria Williams, 71-year-old Director of PACE YouthBuild. Gloria was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts. After time in college and some years working as a Math teacher, Gloria relocated to New Bedford to take a position working in the field of Human development.
After some time working in that field, she took the position at PACE YouthBuild, where she runs the program. PACE YouthBuild is a program for underserved at risk youth, 16-24, that have dropped out or been forced out of the traditional school system. They offer their members a host of wrap around services to lead them towards a brighter future. Through HiSET preparation, National construction certification, life and career development skills, YouthBuild prepares these young people for the rest of their lives.
Gloria has taken a huge amount of pride in what the YouthBuild team does at the program. She loves being at 593 Kempton Street, as it helps her keep going, knowing that they are impacting their students’ lives. They are also involved in helping the community as well. PACE YouthBuild buys old and foreclosed homes, rehabs them, and then makes them affordable for first time home buyers, who wouldn’t otherwise have been able purchase a home.
Gloria often says, “Once YouthBuild, always YouthBuild!Membership doesn’t end when a student graduates, we are always here to support and enrich the lives of past, present and future members!”
Faces Of New Bedford #86 – Meet Brandon Roderick
Meet Brandon Roderick, 27-year-old Chef and owner of the The Baker.
Most of Brandon’s life, he knew he wanted to grow up and become a doctor. In high school, he worked in restaurants, with his first job being at Divino’s in downtown New Bedford. His dream of becoming a doctor though soon became a reality for him, as he received a full ride to Tufts University.
While at Tufts, he continued to work in restaurants, all while pursuing his undergraduate degree full time. It was during a moment in his second year that everything changed and he knew that his passion wasn’t in medicine. He was sitting in the library studying for a chemistry test, when he got the urge to call Le Cordon Bleu and apply for enrollment in their culinary arts program.
He finished the semester at Tufts and began his journey the following September at Le Cordon Bleu. During his time there, he greatly pressed into the teachings of his mentor Ying Wei Luo, who saw his skill in baking and poured into him. Brandon would be early for class and leave late, trying to perfect everything Ying had to teach him. Upon graduating, he worked long days serving tables and long nights in a bakery, getting 3 hours of sleep in his car.
He found out that his great-grandmother’s health was declining and moved back to New Bedford, where he continued to commute back to Boston. This became too much for him and he then took a job as the General Manager of Ella’s in Wareham. This opened his eyes to the business side of the restaurant business, which helped him tremendously in the planning and opening of his own bakery, The Baker.
Brandon opened The Baker in downtown New Bedford in late 2016 and couldn’t be happier. He was told by many while living in Boston that he would be a fool to come to New Bedford and open a bake shop focused on artisan, hand-made, pastries and baked goods. Being the city that he loved and in the middle of a revitalization of the downtown area, he knew that a bakery would be a great addition to our already great city.
“Follow your passion, do what you love.”
Faces Of New Bedford #87 – Meet Brandon Oliver
Meet Brandon Oliver, 29-year-old delivery driver and founder of 508 Sneakerheads.
Brandon grew up in the 90s, watching Michael Jordan play in his prime. During this time, the Jordan sneakers were growing in immense popularity and if Michael wore it, you wanted to have them. It was then, where Brandon’s love for sneakers was born.
Once at the age where he could work and afford to buy the sneakers he had always wanted, he started hunting down the rare and limited sneaker releases he always wanted. This became difficult without a network of people to connect with and that led to his starting of the 508 Sneakerheads on Facebook. It started as a small group of local collectors, where they could buy/trade/sell or just connect with others who had a passion for sneakers and the culture behind them.
It wasn’t long before this group started to take off, connecting people from Connecticut to Maine, over their love for sneakers, and has over 15,000 active members. Brandon, who is passionate about the sneaker industry doesn’t want to just stop there, but make a career working to design sneakers or in management and marketing at the major sneaker companies.
“No matter what you go thru in life never give up on your dreams”
Faces Of New Bedford #88 – Connie Mimoso
Meet Connie Rocha-Mimoso, 50-year-old Director of Community Health Services at Seven Hills.
Connie moved to New Bedford from Portugal in 1981, at the age of 14, with her parents and 4 siblings. Her family always instilled the value of helping others, from her grandfather taking in homeless people in Portugal to her mother who helped house a boy for a year while his family moved to Germany.
This lead to her seeking a position at the Center of Health and Human Services, where she became an outreach worker. The job became fulfilling for her and something that she wanted to continue to pursue. After receiving her license to become a Drug and Alcohol Counselor and a few years of experience she became director of the entire program.
Connie loves that she can help fight the opioid epidemic that has been ravaging out city for some time now. She also, through her work with Seven Hills, can provide resources for low income families, assist those living with life threating diseases, and much more. She also spends time volunteering for several non-profits and organizations, including Team NOAH Foundation, Suicide Prevention Coalition, Opioid Task Force and the Day of Portugal Road Race. On top of her work on opioid prevention with Seven Hills, she also works with the New Bedford Police department on their regular ride-along drives, visiting struggling addicts who have had recent overdoses, in hopes to offer help.
“We need to treat every individual with respect and dignity.”
Faces Of New Bedford #89 – Cristina Pereira
Meet Cristina Pereira, 51-year-old REALTOR®. Cristina was born in South Africa, to two migrants of Portugal.
They then moved to Mozambique where the family started to build their lives. It was during that time that there was a revolution with the government, becoming refugees back to Portugal, with just the clothes on their backs at the age of 9. Hoping to start a new life for their family, they moved to the United States to try their luck here.
She graduated high school and went to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to study Computer Science. When she realized that wasn’t what she wanted to do for the rest of her life, she left school and started working as a secretary at a realty agency. A few years later she started working as an assistant under one of the most successful female realtors in the area.
Cristina worked with her up until 2013, when her mentor retired, learning everything she could from her. She began working with Pelletier Realty, the number one Real Estate Agency in the area since 2007. Since being there she has had major success, even winning the award for being one of the top producers for the past two years.
“You have to go above and beyond your duties to be successful. If that means skipping going out to eat on a Friday night, then that is what it takes.”
Faces Of New Bedford #90: Susana Viera
Meet Susana Viera, 42-year-old Nurse Practitioner and Co-Founder of Susana Viera Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
Susana and her family migrated to New Bedford from São Miguel, Açores, Portugal when she was 18 months old. After graduating New Bedford High School, she decided to go to UMass Dartmouth, in hopes of attending medical school afterwards.
After the counsel of friends and teachers, who told her that her that she would be better as a nurse and that she shouldn’t uproot her family to move to Worcester, she decided to pursue a career in nursing. She graduated UMass Dartmouth with her degree in Bio and then went to BCC, where she received her associates in Nursing.
She worked in several departments throughout hospitals and long-term care departments, in love with her new career. She got to the highest position she could with her education at the time and went on to complete her Masters degree. Shortly after her graduation, she self-diagnosed herself with multiple sclerosis, referencing the material a friend gathered during her Master’s thesis. After a visit to a neurologist and some tests, her diagnosis was proven true.
Multiple Sclerosis effects those diagnosed in two ways, physically and sensory. Some become immobile and others lose the feeling in their extremities, and in Susana’s case, she lost feeling to parts of her hands and arms. With her newly diagnosed illness, she didn’t want to succumb but raise awareness of it, starting the Susana Viera Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. With this non-profit, the team holds an annual fundraiser, this year’s being held on March 31st, and with funds raised at the event we provide adaptive equipment, 6 scholarships every year to graduating high school seniors, money for research, and support the Helping hands transportation program designed to offer wheelchair van transportation for people with neurological diseases like MS.
“Do as much as you can for others while you can because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.”
Faces Of New Bedford #91: Brian Dube
Meet Brian Dube, 43-year-old Pastor and Chaplain in charge of Spiritual Life at Teen Challenge Brockton.
Brian grew up in a healthy environment, with a family that loved and supported him. He, however, felt like he never quite fit in or connected with other kids. After transferring from a private catholic school to New Bedford High, that sense of disconnectedness became even broader. His desire to fit in and have friends led him to the party scene, filled with drinking and drugs, which led him on a slow downward spiral. This would affect the next 15 years of his life.
During that time, he had started a family and become successful in the Information Technology field that was booming during the nineties. Brian had splintered his life in half; the hardworking family man during the week and the party-filled bar hopper on the weekend. Being prescribed pain killers for the migraines he suffered from, his addiction then worsened from alcohol to prescription pills. He found himself at in all time low in 2007, when he suffered a drug induced seizure. He was at a crossroads, get help or lose everything he had worked so hard for.
It was then when his family brought him into Brockton’s Teen Challenge, a faith-based drug treatment program. He went in broken, lost and without any real hope of getting clean, he just knew he wasn’t ready to die. During his time there, his life changed dramatically. He had his family restored to him and accepted a position to work with the organization upon completing the program. That was ten years ago!
Since then he has taken over the lead Pastor position at South Coast Community Church in Fairhaven, MA. During his time with South Coast they have been active in ministry to the lost, addicted and broken throughout the city and at one time opened their own transitional home. He has also recently become a ride along chaplain with the NBPD, helping provide hope to those in New Bedford battling addiction, in those same places and with the same despair that he had once found himself in. A life once lost and now found.
“Once in a while you get shown the light, in the strangest of places if you look at it right.”
– Scarlet Begonias, The Grateful Dead
“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”
– John 1:5
Faces Of New Bedford #92: Heather Brito
Meet Heather Brito, 38-year-old Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Sand Play Practitioner and owner of HSW Counseling.
Growing up, people always thought she was happy go luck and on the outside she had it all, doing great in school and sports through college. But a series of bad decisions that had lasting effects on a lot of people, made her come to the realization that she wasn’t who she wanted to be and started a journey of that discovery.
Hearing that Sandplay therapy, a form of therapy that, like other expressive forms of therapy, allow the individual to tap into their unconscious in order to work our your light and dark, bringing them into balance. She traveled to Vermont, because there weren’t any local therapists, one weekend a month for two years.
Because of her success with this therapy, she wanted to bring it to others in the area, due to the large amounts of brokenness in the SouthCoast. She finished her Master’s degree and got her license to become a Mental Health Counselor in 2012, to help her open HSW Counseling. Almost a year after opening, she has been able to help those in the area through sandplay therapy, EMDR, Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Art, and Massage Therapy. She is even holding her first retreat, Awaken 2017, where she is hoping, along with the other presenters, to bring healing and more healthy lives to the attendees.
“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self acceptance.” Renee Brown
Faces Of New Bedford #93: Sarah Medeiros
Meet Sarah Medeiros, 28-year-old Special Education teacher. Growing up Sarah was always around kids, as her mother owned an in-home daycare. This pushed her to take a class in high school, which focused on working with younger children with disabilities, as she had the childcare experience.
She graduated from high school and went to BCC, unsure what she wanted to do with her future, but knowing that she wanted to work with kids. Soon after she found out that she was pregnant with her daughter and quickly became a single mother working through school. She wasn’t sure that she wanted to continue her education as she was trying to raise her daughter, but with the encouragement of her parents she continued onto finish her Bachelor’s Degree in Psych at Umass Dartmouth.
Sarah then applied for a position as an ABA therapist at Carney Academy and began working soon after. At first she was worried that the position was going to be too much for her but realized that the students needed someone on their team to overcome the learning difficulties they faced. She began to love her job so much that she went back to finish her Master’s degree in Special Education and test for her teaching license, so she could work with these children.
Due to the nature of her field, she mostly teaches children with autism, but they all have some sort of learning disability. Sarah enjoys seeing the huge progress these children make in her classroom, as she doesn’t limit the capability of her students but constantly finding ways for them to reach their full potential. She credits most of her success to the hard working staff at Carney, which play a major role in the education of her students.
“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” -– Ignacio Estrada
Faces Of New Bedford #94: Devin Byrnes
Meet Devin Byrnes, 42-year-old cook and owner of Destination Soups.
Devin grew up in Salem, MA and always found himself cooking, from a young age and through high school in restaurants. He located to New Bedford to attend the University of Massachusetts and fell in love. He never felt that Salem was a home to him, and got that sense while in New Bedford right away.
After spending about 7 years in New Bedford, he moved to New York chasing his career as a cook. While there he met his wife and they moved back to New Bedford, with aspirations of opening his own restaurant. Throughout the years, he had specialized in making soups, so it only made sense to open a soup shop.
His goal with Destination Soups is to have a place where the average worker or college student can stop in to have an affordable and healthy lunch. He has been able to successfully do that, although his first few years were a struggle, working open to close with only one part time employee. Devin was able to push through and persevere, even moving to a bigger space and purchasing the building it is located in.
“There is something to be said for sticking around and sticking it out.”
Faces Of New Bedford #95: Lee Heald
Meet Lee Heald, 63-year-old Director of AHA New Bedford.
Lee moved to the area in the nineties to work at the Whaling Museum as the Vice President of Education and Exhibitions. During her time at the museum, she worked under a large grant that connected communities of whaling with the cultural institutions that collected the information on its history. This project did a lot to help educate New Bedford on its history as a whaling port and opened opportunity to connect our community with others across the world that also shared a similar history.
In 1999, Lee worked to write a grant to fund the first AHA project, not knowing that she would eventually run the organization it became. In 2007, she left her position at the Whaling Museum to take on the Director role at AHA. She loves that AHA is about collaboration and that it is always about the people. It’s designed to connect six different sectors: Arts and Culture, Health and human Services, Environment, Education, business oriented and communities of faith.
When you look at the AHA platform, It’s not just arts and culture but the community. One of the things that they have demonstrated that it is really possible to build a brand that is inclusive of all of the parts of the community.
“If we are a community that supports all creativity at all levels, we need a place to celebrate.”
Faces Of New Bedford #96: Ryan Caton
Meet Ryan Caton, 26-year-old surveyor and owner of Got Chew.
Ryan graduated from New Bedford High School in hopes of becoming a pharmacist. He added the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and while living in Boston, frequently used a delivery service that would deliver for restaurants that didn’t offer that sort of service.
Upon graduating and entering the field, he realized that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life working in medicine. Bouncing around from job to job, he finally settled in at Vivint, working as a site surveyor. Living with his girlfriend and working opposite schedules, he would find himself at home for dinner, with the inability to cook, missing the delivery service he used so often during school. It was then that the idea of Got Chew was birthed and shortly thereafter became a reality.
Teaming up with lifelong friends Will and Justin, Ryan’s idea become much more than they. They pitched their idea at Southcoast E4All’s Pitch Contest and won first place, along with crowd favorite. With this momentum they continued full speed ahead, locking in local restaurants like Two Sisters and dNB Burger, all while developing the app, mobile and desktop site. With Got Chew, you can log in, view menus for the restaurants they service, place your order and pay all in one location.
Ryan’s love for the city he was born and raised in pushed him to bring this to our city streets. His hope is that his team can positively impact the community and local business by allowing another avenue for growth to occur because of their service.
Faces Of New Bedford #97: Cait Joseph
Meet Caitlin Joseph, 31-year-old Personal Trainer and Nutrition coach at Boutique Fitness.
From a young age, Cait was always involved in competitive sports, but it wasn’t until her senior year of high school and starting college that her interest in the weight room and running really took off. After graduating from Johnson & Wales with a degree in Marketing Communications, she started working in the marketing field.
Boutique Fitness opened in 2012 and Cait fell in love with their functional approach to fitness and the camaraderie that came with working out in small groups. It didn’t take long before she became a part of the movement. Shortly after Cait became a client, Angela Corrieri-Johnson and Lara Harrington asked her to be the first to join their team. With their support and guidance, Cait obtained her ISSA certification and began taking on clients at the studio. Working with clients of different fitness levels everyday, all of the trainers at Boutique Fitness strive to help their members achieve their fitness goals without comparing themselves to others.
Often times, what holds individuals back from reaching their goals, is their self doubt and lack of confidence. With that in mind, Lara and Cait decided that bringing up the topic to school age students would be a perfect opportunity to discuss the sensitive issues of body image and self esteem, before they snow ball into life long issues to be dealt with through adulthood. This led to the program – Mindful Me – Supported by Boutique Fitness, spearheaded by Cait Joseph.
The program was designed to bring up the topics of positive body image, mindfulness, and confidence. Topics that many students are often too embarrassed or nervous to talk about. This program gives them an appropriate outlet and support system for this kind of conversation. They just completed the pilot program at Our Sisters’ School and had a very positive experience. Cait hopes to continue at Our Sisters’ School and watch the program grow.
“I get to make people feel better and work towards reaching their goals everyday. I have the best job in the world!”
Faces Of New Bedford #98: Adrian Carvalho
Meet Adrian Carvalho, 47-year-old Soccer Coach and Philanthropist.
Adrian, growing up in New Bedford, began playing soccer at the age of six, soon taking the position as goalkeeper. He was involved in many leagues but notes the push he received from one of his coaches, Carlos Valente, that lead him down the path he is on today.
After graduating high school, he started working for his families’ construction business but also play semi-professional soccer for the LASA, Luzo America Soccer Association, from the age of 16 to 40. It was throughout his time playing that he decided that he wanted to give back to the youth of New Bedford.
This desire is what propelled him to start Top Level Goalkeeping, where he helps kids from all ages on the importance of goal keeping. Most coaches put their emphasis on the offense of a team, rarely ever focusing on the goal keeper, which is where Adrian flourishes.
Recently, he has taken on the full-time position of the Academy Goalkeeper Coach with the New England Revolution. At the academy, he works with children from the age of 8 up to college students at the age of 23, training and perfecting their skills, in hopes to prepare them for playing for a professional team.
Faces Of New Bedford #99: Jordan Paiva
Meet Jordan Paiva, 25-year-old singer and DJ.
Growing up, Jordan was always interested in music and sang in several school organizations. During trips with his parents, he was fascinated by the way the entertainers were able to get the crowd involved and it was then that he realized what he wanted to do for a career. It was at the age of 15 when he started DJing, getting a gig at Fairhaven High Schools’s homecoming dance. He quickly grew from small birthday parties and events to weddings in no time, taking pleasure in being a young entrepreneur.
He takes pride in not just being a DJ, but entertainment. His clients have told him they enjoy that he not only interacts with the crowd but checks in to make sure that their night is stress free. To him there is something special about bringing two families together, that may come from two different cultures, to enjoy themselves while celebrating such an important event as a wedding.
With his success in what he does, he feels it is so important to give back to the community. With the loss of his grandmother in 2010 to pancreatic cancer, he decided he wanted to help raise money to fight cancer. He has since volunteered at several Relay for Life events and contributes to the American Cancer Society.
“It’s not about making money, it’s about doing what you love.”
Faces Of New Bedford #100: Caitlyn Fontes
Meet Caitlyn Fontes, 30-year-old co-owner of Two Sisters and author.
Caitlyn has worked in the food industry for the majority of her adult life and throughout a good portion of her teenage years. She got her start in restaurants, waitressing at a small breakfast place in Fairhaven.
With the recent death of her grandfather, her and her sister decided that they wanted to open a restaurant in memory of him. Due to the lack of food trucks in New Bedford, in comparison to the rest of the cities in our country, they decided to try their luck building one of their own. Two Sisters was born, a Portuguese-styled restaurant, to honor their grandfather and culture that they were born into.
Although it began with a bumpy start, stolen generators and kitchen fires, they have just passed their milestone of 10,000 orders fulfilled in just the first 6 months. Caitlyn loves what Two Sisters means to her family and New Bedford, hoping to diversify the locations of the truck by adding more to the fleet.
Not only has Caitlyn successfully opened her own food truck, but has had her hand in publishing children’s books. Her series, Magestica: The Land of Imagination, was inspired by one of her favorite authors advice to her at a signing, “You want to write a book? What’s stopping you?”
Faces Of New Bedford #101: Hugh Dunn
Meet Hugh Dunn, 31-year-old Director of Economic Development and City councilor.
Hugh, born in Worcester MA, is 4th generation Irish with ancestry rooted in the whaling industry in Ireland. Prior to pursuing a degree in Political Science, Hugh worked at a freezer warehouse that caused him to become ill and poised him in the middle of a class action lawsuit. It was his encounter with how the law highlighted the fight for justice in his case that was a catalyst for him to pursue a political science and eventual degree in law.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree from American International College in Springfield, he moved to New Bedford, where he attended UMass Law. He felt at home in New Bedford, living in the downtown historic district. He had also studied and learned to speak Portuguese while volunteering in Brazil – and was immediately excited to live in a Portuguese speaking city.While in school he worked for congressman Keating and after taking the bar, became a full-time on his New Bedford District Staff. Hugh would often sit in on meetings that the congressman couldn’t attend, including the meetings of the SouthCoast Development Partnership – which he now directs.
The Southcoast Development Partnership works to improve the quality of life for this region. Two of it’s major projects right now include the Southcoast Rail system and building cross border collaboration between Rhode Island and Southern Mass.
Recently, Hugh participated in and won a special election to replace the Ward 3 City councilor. Although not born here, over the past 7 years he has been able to immerse himself in the community and its future, which is why he takes pride in his new position. His hope to is help the city continue in its positive trajectory, utilize all his tools to do so. His major focus is going to be on battling the opioid epidemic and economic development, while advocating for the constituents throughout the ward.
“Honored to serve the city and work to keep its residents and business’s moving forward.”
Faces Of New Bedford #102: Jon Mitchell
Meet Jon Mitchell, 48-year-old mayor of New Bedford.
The city of New Bedford is dear to Jon, as he grew up in a fishing family. After graduating from high school, he attended Harvard University, which he paid for with financial aid and working summers when he was back home. Jon graduated Harvard with an economics degree and moved to Washington, D.C. where he attended law school at George Washington University.
Upon graduation, Mitchell began working for the United States Department of Justice as one of the youngest federal prosecutors. With this experience, he moved back to Massachusetts and worked with the Attorney General and a prestigious law firm in Boston.
Jon Mitchell’s goal since arriving in office in 2012 has been to reclaim New Bedford’s position as a leading city in the Northeast. One of his biggest projects at the moment is the Blue Lane project, using the cove walks and future projects to create a path along the entire coast of New Bedford for recreation.
Faces Of New Bedford #103: Taylor Gordon
Meet Taylor Gordon, 18-year-old student and advocate.
Taylor grew up with many challenging obstacles. She had single mother who worked hard to provide during times where her biological father had been absent in and out of prison and battling with substance abuse and many issues from his own past. After being adopted by her mothers husband, she was given a second chance at having a father who loved Taylor as his own. However, she always longed for the missing puzzle piece her biological left. From a very early age Taylor knew why her biological father wasn’t around and notes that it is what made her the strong, young woman she is today. As a young child she was diagnosed with many medical conditions,!such as Celiac Disease, Hashimoto’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and Lupus. Despite everything stacked against her, she always pushed through it with a smile on her face.
As she got older, her mother and father had given her the option to get to know her biological father, who was clean and trying to better his life. A month before meeting, he relapsed and that chance for her slipped away. A few years later though, he reached out to Taylor on social media, telling her that he wanted to be a father to her. With her strong faith, and help from her supports, she finally gave him the chance. Taylor knew that she didn’t want to live her life with the regret of never getting to know the man who made her who she is today, and make the decision to build a relationship. Taking care of her parent wasn’t what she had in mind, but she knew from her heart that she was going to love him back to life, despite how hard this can be. He had wonderful moments where he was living clean and everything seemed great until she faced the hard reality, he had relapsed again.
Although growing up with a parent who wrestled with addiction, this was the first time she had dealt with the hurt and disappointment that comes with it. Having faced all she has in life, she isn’t allowing this to stop her positive outlook. Taylor is a big example of resiliency, and knew that each time she fell down she got back up even stronger. Rather than be held back, Taylor wants to use her experience to help other youth in the community that are in the same position as her. She also wants for others to know that it’s possible to get back up. She is pursuing a degree in social work so she can do just that. Growing up she felt that she didn’t have someone she could go to who would understand her situation, so she wants to be that for other kids throughout our city.
“Narcan is great and can save someone’s life, but it don’t forget the families and children who carry this weight, and that is where I want to help. Don’t forget to thank people for the good, and the bad, because it’s what makes you who you are”
Faces Of New Bedford #104: Andrew Thornhill
Meet Andrew Thornhill, 28-year-old co-owner of Silverbrook Farms. After graduating from Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement and started taking classes at Bristol Community College.
He began taking classes focused on a future job in agriculture. Andrew had begun working as a farm hand at Silverbook Farms after his brother-in-law, who worked there at the time got him interested in agriculture. He quickly moved up at the farm, learning the ins and outs of the industry, and started working from Boston to Cape Cod, selling the produce to markets.
After becoming the greenhouse manager at the farm and working there for some time, he could really see himself really investing himself into a farm. It was around this time that the owner got injured and decided that he didn’t want to work the farm anymore, so Andrew and his business partner, David Sanders, purchased the farm.
“Farming isn’t always the cover of a seed catalogue. People think that it is this cornucopia of goodness, but there is the harsh reality of the hard decisions you have to make.”
Faces Of New Bedford #105: A.J. Tavares
Meet A.J. Tavares, a 30-year-old teacher, basketball coach, and owner of A1 Skills, Development and Training.
A.J. started playing basketball at a very young age, falling in love with sports at the Boys and Girls Club. He played sports throughout school, playing varsity football, basketball, and baseball his senior year.
After his time at New Bedford High School, A.J. went on to UMass Dartmouth, where he majored in Business and continued to play all three sports. He initially didn’t want to attend the school but his professors and coaches made him feel at home and contributed to his growth as a young and athlete. His senior year became a pivotal one as he helped lead the team to a 20-0 start reaching #2 in the country, ultimately finishing 25-4 and ranked 10th in the country, losing in the 2nd Round of the NCAA Tournament.
After switching into the Criminal Justice program, he graduated from UMass Dartmouth. He turned down a position working for campus police and pursued a sales position in Boston. After 8 month of working there he realized that isn’t what he wanted to do for the rest of his life and began working as a youth life coach between Boston and New Bedford. He saw the impact that he was having on the kids and wanted to focus that on the community.
A.J. recently became a 4th grade teacher at Devalles school, where he is able to help kids at such a vital age, where they start forming habits that will stick with them throughout the rest of their lives. Not only does he teach elementary students, but coaches boys junior varsity basketball for New Bedford High School and runs a company called A1 Skills, Development and Training.
A1 Skills, which stands for Adversity First, is focused on training youth with the fundamentals of basketball, like footwork, handling, and shooting, as well as physical fitness and sport specific training. He picked the name Adversity first because he’s a firm believer that it’s only through the adversity in life that you become the person you are.
“I try to believe in everybody like I would want people to believe in me.”
Faces Of New Bedford #107: Kenn Bongiorno
Meet Dr. Reverend Kenn Bongiorno, 51-year-old Pastor and Professor.
Kenn didn’t grow up in a spiritual home or one that attended church. At 19-years old he spent three weeks with his grandfather in the hospital during his grandfather’s last days alive. With a lot of emotions running through him, he spoke out and told God that he needed to know if he was real, and if he was to show himself to him. One late night, Kenn saw all the pain his grandfather was going through and thought that if he could, he would take his place for him. Kenn said that at that moment, “God told me that he took my grandfather’s place at the cross and my place and that my grandfather would live beyond this life.”
That night transformed Kenn and he would spend the next decade of his life trying to learn about who this God was, traveling to Southeastern University in Florida to attend college and then up to Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, MA. During his time at Southeastern, he felt a strong call to New England, although he knew little about it or had ever even visited it, to bring the hope he found in Jesus. After a four-year pastorate in Pennsylvania and a sabbatical in Switzerland, his call was answered, as an opening at the multicultural city by the sea that he had envisioned many years before became available
Since moving here, Kenn has worked to strengthen the core members of his congregation to be able to impact their church and community of New Bedford. They’ve held services at the Zeiterion Theatre and have done a lot to impact our community. They’ve partnered with local non-profit United New Bedford, sponsoring their I Love My City Annual Event and more recently, went to Satellite Village to provide food and activities for all ages.
Faces Of New Bedford #108: Jesenia Navedo
Growing up, Jesenia had always pictured herself becoming a doctor. This idea became a reality when she saw her mother give birth to her youngest sister. She began a pre-med Biology program at UMass Amherst and shortly realized that she didn’t want to be in school for the next 10 years of her life. Her roommate at the time was a nursing major and she decided that would be the best route for her to still pursue a career where she could help others.
She graduated with her BSN and immediately started working in a nursing home, where she cared for patients in sub-acute rehab. Jesenia had heard from a friend that there was a new grad program starting up at the ER in St. Lukes Hospital and immediately took the leap to join the team. Although the ER can be a fast pace and almost scary environment, she took on the challenge and learned a lot.
While in her field, she began noticing medicine being pushed too far for patients in their late 80’s and 90’s, even seeing ribs broken just to resuscitate them. This sparked an interest in hospice nursing, where she could assist her patients in their last days, helping them retain dignity and maintain a quality of life.
“There is such a dark stigma on death in our culture and there isn’t any reason that life shouldn’t be celebrated and just as beautiful at death, as it is with birth.”
Faces Of New Bedford #110: Nick Correia
Meet Nick Correia, 36-year-old construction worker and conditioning trainer.
Growing up, Nick’s uncle was the head coach for the basketball team at New Bedford High School, so he spent plenty of time at the games. At the first game he attended, he saw Mike Herren play against his uncle’s team with 5,000 people in attendance at Durfee High School.
Naturally, he played sports throughout his youth and when he started at NBHS, began playing on the different sports teams at the school. His way of fitting in though, was through alcohol and partying, as he would throw parties at his house on the weekends for his friends. This continued with him to college, where he was kicked out of Western New England College for his failing grades, due to his excessive drinking.
Nick returned to New Bedford and his problems only got worse, as he lost a few friends to unexpected deaths. On the outside, it seemed things were going good, as he worked a full-time job in construction and began coaching at New Bedford High and UMass Dartmouth, but on the inside, he was in turmoil. A knee injury is finally what pushed Nick over the deep-end, tossing him into a long battle with opioid addiction, costing him his coaching positions and almost his life.
Through the help of Chris and Mike Herren, Nick was able to get into a program, where he found sobriety and a new outlook on life. He began getting back into fitness and after a few years under his belt, the opportunity for him to work with Athletes First, where athletes from all over train in strength, conditioning and agility, all while learning the proper nutrition to perform at their peak potential. Nick was also able to work with the NBHS freshman football team this past summer, getting them conditioned for the season and be an example of how you can overcome the struggles in your life to continue doing what you love.
“I don’t care how rough the waters are, just bring the ship home.”
Faces Of New Bedford #111: Jennifer Potter
After giving birth to her and her husband’s daughter, Jennifer had a desire to get to know other mothers. She wanted to have like-minded families around her and thought it would be beneficial to start a Facebook group to accomplish this. With the help from her best friend Stephanie Chace, she started the group. What started out as a small group to bring different groups of people together to host outings has turned into a group filled with nearly 3400 families, all helping each other grow and building lasting friendships.
Jennifer worked on building this group all while she has been working at her full-time job with the Turino Group, where she is a business analyst. Recently though, her role has been transitioning into their mobile app development department of the company. This has helped play a major role in her SCMB group, as Turino Group recently launched a mobile app for their group, and will be released by the end of July.
With the Facebook site, website and now mobile app, Jen is hoping to broaden the reach the group has had and bring even more families and businesses together. She has been able to secure working partnerships with local businesses, so that most of the group events are free and the hope is to continue this in the future, allowing parents a fun and affordable way to socialize not only their children but themselves with other parents.
“Bringing together the surrounding communities is important and that gets me excited.”
Faces Of New Bedford #112: Amy Moreira
Amy was raised in a Portuguese family, that immigrated to New Bedford in search for a better quality of life. She witnessed many of the issues in the community, which shaped who she became as a person. During high school, she started volunteering in New Bedford in areas of juvenile probation and domestic violence.
She continued her studies until she was first generation in receiving a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Since graduating, she has had success working in educational settings, hospitals, correctional facilities, as well as the New Bedford Crisis Center.
Amy own’s a private practice, More MH Counseling, LLC. She hopes that her own platform will allow her to educate and reduce stigma in facing the various mental health issues that exist including suicide, substance abuse, and youth violence. She specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and is fluent in both Portuguese and Spanish. She wants to give back to the community and often reserves a number of sessions pro bono. She hopes to see New Bedford use it’s resiliency to grow as a community.
“Focus on personal growth by challenging yourself daily.”
Faces Of New Bedford #113: Jeff Costa
Jeff grew up in the area and after graduating from high school, he moved to Boston where he attended Boston University and majored in English/French Literature. While living in Boston, Jeff began personal training and dancing, as his lifelong love for music evolved into his interest in human movement.
After almost a decade in Boston, he moved to LA, where he took his personal training career to the next level, working with celebrities such as Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christina Applegate, Jennifer Aniston, and members of the Girls Next Door cast. While in California, Jeff also trademarked his own workout routine and videos, which sold on infomercials worldwide.
Jeff returned home to the South Coast in 2008 and was recruited by Reebok to be their master trainer for a fitness program called Jukari. Based on the techniques used by performers in Cirque du Soleil, Jeff taught the method to trainers from 14 countries, who would respectively teach classes back at home.
Jeff now teaches yoga and fitness classes throughout the Greater New Bedford area, as well as leading yoga retreats internationally, in locations like Bali and Costa Rica.
“A healthy lifestyle, including yoga and meditation, puts the breaks on the aging process and fuels life’s journey with joy and adventure.”
Faces Of New Bedford #114: Ian Yates
Ian grew up in the North end of the city his entire life and after graduating from high school, he decided to get his Commercial Driver’s License and began driving trucks for several local shipping and production companies.
After a conversation with two of his childhood friends, Nick and Barbara Yell, he was sold on a business venture. At a family cookout, the Yell’s had their own bouncy house set up that they had purchased and were renting to family and friends. They showed Ian the pamphlet for the company that they purchased it from and he immediately bought a pack of 5 inflatables and never looked back.
Today, the trio have acquired and rent out 28 different inflatables and business just keeps growing. Ian loves that he is able to provide a service that is able to impact the youth in a positive way. Yell 4 Fun works with the city school system to provide their equipment at affordable costs and also works with different organizations.
“Shop small, shop local.”
Faces Of New Bedford #115: Roger DaSilva
Roger grew up in the cities south end, where he faced many adversities in his youth. He has a vivid memory of having the new house they were moving into robbed before they had officially moved in. Seeing all of the activity that was going on in his neighborhood, he involved himself in everything musically that he could in school, being involved in every drama production, choir, and band.
After high school, Roger began attending UMass Dartmouth, where he majored in Biology with a minor in music. Allowing his love for music to overcome him, he focused so much on producing that his grades suffered and was forced to leave the school at the end of his first year. He began working several odd jobs and got to a point in his life where he questioned how long it would take to become successful and not worry about the necessities.
This is where his love for people helped him find a career in nursing and after two years in an associate program he was able to do just that. Although his love for taking care of others didn’t change, long 12-14 hour shifts had him burnt out and left him no time for his other passion for music.
After investing in a rental property and seeing the equity he was able to generate from the house, it finally clicked for Roger. He began attending real estate seminaries and studied to become a licensed real estate agent. Under the tutelage of great leadership at Century 21 Signature properties, he has successfully tackled his first year as a real estate agent winning Rookie of the Year within his company.
Faces Of New Bedford #116: Charles Hauck
Charles was born in Toledo, Ohio and lived there until he graduated from high school in 1977. His brother was working as an architect in New Bedford at the time, so Charles moved out to this area that summer to work.
While living here, Charles decided that he wanted to pursue an education in art and began attending the Swain School of Design, which was located where the Kennedy-Donovan center now resides on County Street. While their he majored in sculpture and graduated with his Bachelor’s degree in 1981, staying on for another year as a teacher’s assistant.
Charles enjoyed that the school’s presence had brought artists from all around to the city and formed a community of artists known as the Second Street art exchange, which was a group of 6 artists that rented space in the Bourne Warehouse, which is located behind current day Freestones. This group evolved into what is now known today as Gallery X in 1990, which Charles was the first president of.
The gallery gained its name because it was located near the YWCA and Zeiterian Theater on Spring street (x,y,z) and the name stuck. Charles loves being involved with the organization and is happy to see the artists it’s helped foster and develop over the last 27 years, while also allowing a space for bands and theater groups to showcase their talents.
Faces Of New Bedford #117: Chris Johnson
Chris got really interested in cooking during his teens, working at several restaurants and he even ran a café in California for a short period of time. He moved back to Massachusetts and after starting a family he decided to start his own insurance business.
This gave him the experience and ability to have a strong sense for marketing and networking. Eventually this led to him starting a position with SERVPRO, where he became the Marketing Manager. His passion for people and bringing them helpful services like fire & water damage cleanup and restoration brings him huge satisfaction.
This passion has driven him to become an active ambassador for the local Chamber of Commerce and startup a networking group, BCBC (Bristol County Business Connect) East. Chris has even been awarded several community service awards from the Chamber for his efforts in the community.
“Having passion and compassion has been the key to success. Passion for what I do and compassion for those that I am helping.”
Faces Of New Bedford #118: Thomas Riley
Tom grew up in a time period where those with developmental disabilities faced a huge stigma from society and were often sent to live in state-funded schools.
Upon graduating college with his bachelor’s degree in Psychology/Social Work and a master’s degree in Public Administration, he worked for an agency in Massachusetts that was working to develop group homes in communities for the individuals who were being displaced by the closing of the state-funded schools. After some time there, and with the support and push from many people he knew, he came together with a group of like-minded individuals to start Better Community Living.
The agency, which started with one home in Lakeville serving 4 persons in its first year, has grown into much more than that. With homes throughout Fairhaven, New Bedford, and Dartmouth, Tom has helped grow BCL into an organization that provides not only group homes for those with developmental disabilities, but a Day Habilitation program, autism-focused family/children outreach and support program, along with a slew of other programs. Although many would credit Tom with the accomplishments of the organization, he strongly feel’s that the credit belongs to the support of community partners that come alongside him and his BCL team to make it all possible.
“The community does a better job at accepting and supporting people who live independently.”
Faces Of New Bedford #119: Nelson Linhares
Nelson grew up in the south end of the city and knew that one day he wanted to get into business. After high school he got a business degree from UMass Dartmouth but due to the events of 9/11 and the market crash that followed, he couldn’t find a job.
Having quite a few teachers in his family, he felt inclined to go into education. He began as a substitute teacher and eventually became a full-time math teacher at NBHS. Although it was a fulfilling job, after 7 years of being a math teacher, he really wanted to pursue a more flexible schedule to spend time with his family.
He began work as a financial advisor and educator part time and before he knew it, he had left his position as a teacher to pursue this career path. After 12 years he has been able to open two offices, one in Mansfield and the other which recently opened in downtown New Bedford. His hope is to be able to educate not only adults in the community on better ways to save and invest their money, but impart that education on the next generation.
Faces Of New Bedford #120: Chari Hurley
Chari had been a cheerleader in high school but didn’t much to pursue it afterwards. With the push from her grandmother, she started the BCC Nursing program and graduated in 2009. While in the program, she stared coaching Pop Warner cheerleading, which led to her coaching for Westport High School and Bishop Stang.
Upon graduating, Chari worked with psych patients for a short period before getting into homecare. She loved the idea of working with her patients in their home, helping them manage their own medications and assisting them in being safe in their own homes.
When the owners of Southcoast Storm Elite Cheerleading decided that they would be moving out of the area, one of the parents came to Chari and encouraged her that she would be perfect to take over the program. She ended up taking over the company and couldn’t be more passionate about what she does. There are huge misconceptions about cheerleading that she works hard to dispel, showing the true athleticism and grit that it takes to succeed in the sport.The program has had much success, including competing in Disney at the national level, but there are lessons to be learned in losses.
Faces Of New Bedford #121: Sonya Ustinovich
Meet Sonya Ustinovich, 39 year old owner and teacher at Little Learners in Westport. Growing up, Sonya and her sister Nadine were raised in a home where their Mom had a childcare program for 26 years.
After high school, she went on to receive her bachelors degree in psychology with a minor in special education. She soon married and began a family of her own, staying home to raise her children. When her children were school-aged, following in her mother’s footsteps, along with her sister, they opened Little Learners Childcare, where they have been caring for children for 10 years.
Understanding the importance of being able to have time to herself as a mother who is constantly caring for her children, Sonya and Nadine have embarked on a new venture. Their idea is to open a walk-in daycare (LL STAY & PLAY) with convenient hours that will allow moms and dads the opportunity to run errands, make appointments, dine out, do some yoga, or just some time for rest and relaxation. Without the need to enroll your child in a daily program, it makes temporary and quality childcare affordable.
“Childcare is in our blood.”
Faces Of New Bedford #122: Tara Winterhalter
Tara began dancing competitively at the age of 4 and continued throughout her childhood and teenage years. After completing her degree in Fashion Merchandising at Johnson and Wales, she opened a dancing studio, Motion the Dance, in Dartmouth.
After a few years of running the business, she decided to incorporate barre fitness classes into her dance studio, giving the mothers of dance students something to do while their children were in classes. She decided to move to Nashville, Tenessee and sold her business to apprentice, where she got barre fitness certified.
Her yoga instructor in Nashville told her to look into Buti Yoga, because it incorporated dancing, yoga, and fitness, all things Tara loved. She began teaching it and was scouted by the creator of Buti Yoga to work at their Arizona headquarters, where she became Lead Master Trainer. After some time in Arizona, Tara felt the longing to move back to her home, so she relocated back to New England.
Soon after moving back, she began teaching Buti Yoga classes, which drove her to open Ritual Sweat Society. They offer a wide variety of yoga, Buti yoga, and fitness classes while offering meal planning and programs for their members. She hoped to have 50 members before the end of 2017 and is ecstatic to have beaten that goal three-fold. Her hope is to help create a healthier community with the services she provides.
Faces Of New Bedford #123: Bethany Ramos
Meet Bethany Ramos, 37-year-old Realtor.
Bethany grew up in the area and after high school, she started working for Citizens bank, which let to her working for several local banks throughout her career. She slowly worked her way up from being a bank to a branch manager for the bank she eventually left to being her career in real estate.
Bethany’s passion for the community that she serves and meeting the needs and goals of her clients, made the transition from banking to real estate seamless. She specializes in applying her knowledge from the financial industry to her real estate career, helping individuals fulfill their dreams of home ownership.
She is so passionate about helping people find homes in the area because of her love for New Bedford. She knows that the more people can invest in the local community, whether buying homes or businesses, it will help bring more to what is already growing so quickly in the area.
Faces Of New Bedford #124: Sara Achorn
Sara has always been involved in music and singing, starting as early as she can remember. As a teenager, she started training vocally with the mother of Jillian Zucco, the 2016 Miss New Bedford, and was introduced to Jillian at that time. Her mentorship helped drove Sara into considering competing and being involved in the Miss New Bedford pageant.
This September, during her second attempt at becoming Miss New Bedford, Sara won. While juggling work, a transition to a new school in Boston, and preparing for the pageant, she made it happen. Her platform is body positivity and feels it is important to educate men and women on how they can be comfortable in their skin, no matter their shape, color, or size.
Sara really wants to stay active in the community while juggling her full-time school schedule and representing such a high honor. Working with the Boys and Girls club and YMCA, she hopes to set up therapy and activities for kids who might be dealing with body image crisis.
Faces Of New Bedford #125: Jen Blum
Jen, like many women today, was trapped in an abusive relationship for 13 years and nobody had any idea. After mustering the courage, she planned an escape and took her two sons with her. After an unsuccessful attempt at getting the police to listen to her story, she finally got them to investigate.
Jen knew that in the wake of the events she had just endured, that she wanted to help other women who might be in the same situation she had found herself in. This sparked the creation of the Help Save Foundation, a local non-profit, which is focused on helping those stuck in abusive relationships become free and safe, while aiding them in rebuilding their lives.
Along with the efforts in aiding these women in removing themselves and their children from these situations, Jen focuses on helping women in shelters who’ve suffered as well. In the last year, she and her team have put on several projects, such as Project You’re Beautiful. The focus was to compile handbags to give to women in shelters who’ve fled domestic abuse and were left with nothing, filled with all of the necessities a woman might need. They were successful in getting over a three hundred handbags to women in shelters throughout Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.
Her hope is that by showing other women where she was in the midst of her abusive situation and where she is now, that they too can find life after domestic violence.
Faces Of New Bedford #126: Manny DeBrito
Manny grew up in the city and graduated from Bishop Stang in 1992. He then attended Bridgewater State and received his bachelor’s degree in Management Science in 2000. Manny worked for several financial firms in Boston for many years, while balancing his commitments to the youth in New Bedford for over a decade.
He coaches basketball for the Mt. Carmel program and works with 4-6 teams there per year. His passion for the sport pushed him and his co-founder, Frank Barros Jr., to start A’s b4 J’s, which helped the youth become focused on their grades before they worried about basketball. Through this company, they sold t-shirts which profits went to create scholarships for the students who play basketball.
This company then grew into the non-profit A’s B4, that stands for Achievements by 4 which focuses on holistic development, peer mentoring, community involvement & youth empowerment. They are working in collaboration with Greater New Bedford Vocational Technical High School with a mentoring program. The idea behind A’s B4 is to create mentors out of upperclassmen, that can be linked together with an incoming freshman, helping their transition into high school.
Manny has also recently become the Head of the Election Commission in New Bedford. His love for the city brought him to a career where he can make a tangible difference in the city, allowing for a fair election process.
Faces Of New Bedford #127: Joe Neves
Joe grew up in Austin, Texas due to his father’s, a New Bedford native, Air Force commitments in Texas. During his time at the University of Texas Austin, he traveled to Massachusetts to work as a beach worker at Horseneck beach for the summer. Because Joe was an out of state employee, he got bumped off the list and with the help of his cousin, ended up working as a counselor at Camp Massasoit.
Originally an accounting major, he had no desire to work with children, but that changed during the summer he was at Camp Massasoit. Joe returned to Texas to finish up his last year in school and moved back to New Bedford to pursue a career in childcare. He quickly rose the ranks working for the YMCA and YWCA, before landing the position of Daycare Program Director for Dennison Memorial’s daycare program.
Dennison Memorial is located in the south end of New Bedford and offers two programs. A free walk in program, where kids in the city can go after school to stay off the streets and get involved in sports, academic tutoring, work on their homework, and be in a safe haven from crime and violence they could be involved in on the street. It also offers a daycare through PACE for parents who are in school, training, or receiving subsidized daycare through the state.
Joe hopes that during his time at the community center that he has been able to push kids to strive above their situations. Leading by example, he wants to show the kids that visit the center daily that no matter your background, race, education, or circumstances, that you can rise and beat the odds in life.
“Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, You are right.” – Henry Ford
Faces Of New Bedford #128: Chris Resendes
Upon graduating from high school, Chris joined the Air Force and during his time in the air force he also worked for the sheriff’s department as a correctional officer from 1998 until 2001.
Chris began his career as a Court Services Coordinator after his time working for the sheriff in 2001. In this position he works for an alternative sentencing program, which was started in 1998, placing those on probation and parole in various community service projects throughout Bristol County. He loves this position, as he is able to help in the rehabilitation of those trying to piece their life together after their trials.
In 2015, Chris has started up Guns of Mass, an online classified site for responsible, law-abiding gun owners to sell and trade firearms, advocate for gun rights, and network. Amidst the political climate, he feels it is important to protect the rights of gun owners who are upstanding citizens just intending to protect themselves and their families.
Most recently, he has partnered with the New Bedford Guide, hosting his own weekly show which discusses politics, different hardships that face our community, highlights the great things that are happening in New Bedford, while speaking with those making an impact in the community. Hopes to educate the community on politics while trying to help people through the people he brings onto the show.
Faces Of New Bedford #129: Bernadette Souza
She is thankful for the people who took her under their wing and her church, Our Lady of the Assumption, because it was those groups of people that kept her on that narrow road. After graduating from high school, she attended two years Rhode Island College before returning to New Bedford. She received her certification in Youth Ministry Studies from The Diocese of Worcester and Assumption College.
Through her experience with working with the youth in her church as a Confirmation teacher, she then was compelled to apply for the open position as assistant director at the Boys and Girls Club, working under the guidance of Robert Mendes. During her time at the Boys and Girls Club, she knows that she was able to impact generations of children that went through the program. Bernadette was driven by the idea that we have the ability to empower others and used her career to do that.
In 2012, 15 years after starting with the Boys and Girls Club, Bernadette moved onto a new project, working with a chapter of a national .organization called Trips for kids. The organization uses biking as a tool to help the youth learn and understand the city and environment around them. In 2015, the organization wanted to brand itself independently and became Youth Opportunities Unlimited. Their mission is to foster youth development in the Greater New Bedford Community. They provide experiences that instill confidence and basic skills for lifelong safe, educational adventures.
They believe that youth represent untapped potential, and the key to realizing this potential is responding to their natural curiosity around them. Their playground is wherever their bikes and imaginations can take them. They create opportunities that respond to youth interest. The youth participate in experiences ranging from learning to cook, Bicycle maintenance and repair, stewards of a local community garden, as well as a summer program that offers one-week sessions for children to explore the south end peninsula on bike, while swimming, snorkeling, engaging in sports, and enjoying last experiences with their friends. They are a small non-profit making a big impact on the lives of New Bedford.
“Whenever you are in the presence of children, leave them with something.”
Faces Of New Bedford #130: Caroline Paradis
Caroline grew up in South Carolina but moved up to the area to potentially move to Boston or Providence for work, but fell in love with New Bedford and decided to stay in the area. She got into working with nonprofits by working at Rotch-Jones Duff House and from there became the Director of PR and Marketing for United Way.
After several years of working with United Way, she became the President of Junior Achievement. She truly loved the mission of the program, but during that time in her life she felt that things were off balance between work and life. During that time, she had gone for a few Reiki sessions and, after a weekend retreat at Kripalu Yoga Center, she began seeking out meditation. It was her meditation practice that pushed her to become certified in Reiki.
Reiki is the practice of balancing one’s own energy, as we are all energetic beings. The belief is that, over time, our body’s energy gets out of balance and Reiki practitioners are able to help channel universal energy to help establish equilibrium in the body.
After earning her Reiki certification, Caroline made the jump from her nonprofit career to become a full-time Reiki practitioner and guided meditation facilitator. She is such a large advocate for Reiki and meditation because with the current state of affairs, people are feeling more stress and anxiety than ever, and her hope is to help alleviate that stress. This has even pushed her to hold a weekly lunchtime guided meditation in downtown New Bedford, so that those who work in the area can use that time to re-align and center themselves before returning to the stresses of the day. “Meditation isn’t about shutting your mind off, it’s about how you deal with your thoughts.”
Faces Of New Bedford #131: Justin Coelho
Justin had always loved and played sports and upon graduating high school, he went to St. Anselm College where he studied Biology to become a doctor and play football. Upon completion of his degree, he realized quickly that he didn’t want to spend another decade in school studying and pursued an education in nursing at Brockton Hospital’s School of Nursing.
Due to the need to gain weight and muscle to play collegiate football, Justin left St. Anselm weighing over 100 pounds more than he did when he entered as a freshman. Following Nursing school while working at Brockton Hospital, he started training at a CrossFit Affiliate, which helped him focus in on a healthy lifestyle and lose the weight he gained while playing Division II College football. Justin eventually left Brockton Hospital and worked for St. Lukes hospital in the ER, Surgical Intensive Care Unit and Critical Care Unit for a few more years.
Towards the end of his time in nursing, Justin volunteered in the medical tent at the Reebok Crossfit Games, where he met the Director of Sales and Marketing of Fitness. They hit it off and Justin was offered a position to work for the Global Fitness brand. He began to immerse himself in the world of Crossfit even more through his new position, visiting Crossfit gyms across the region, learning the intricacies of running a successful CrossFit Affiliate. This experience guided him when he decided to open his own gym in the area, as there wasn’t one in his home town at the time.
Since opening in 2012, Crossfit Dartmouth has serviced the community in more ways than one. Justin has been able to help countless clients focus on a healthy lifestyle, while providing expertise in nutrition and functional fitness. Unlike going to other gyms where the routine gets boring and monotonous, CrossFit is fun and remains fun as it is constantly varied and different everyday. What Justin, and most CrossFitters, enjoy about CrossFit is that it combines multiple fitness modalities into different daily workouts that are executed at high intensity.
He enjoys what he does because as a nurse, he felt like he was treating those who were already sick and with CrossFit, he is able to help people focus on their health and wellness through fitness and nutrition and prevent diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. He has even seen numerous clients able to come off their blood pressure medicine, cholesterol meds and lower their blood sugar through routine workouts and his team’s nutrition counseling. He also has spearheaded several philanthropic efforts through the gym, like a dodgeball tournament held to raise money and awareness for the non-profit 21 FrienDS, which aids and assists those with Down Syndrome CrossFit Dartmouth has yearly Thanksgiving donations to the Veterans Transition Home of New Bedford and yearly collections of gifts during the holiday season for local less fortunate families.
Justin’s passion for fitness is seen daily at CrossFit Dartmouth. Justin not only coaches the morning CrossFit classes, he also trains local sports teams and athletes. He has personal training clients of all ages including clients preparing for military bootcamp, police academies, college athletes during preseason as well as working professionals looking to stay fit and retired adults trying to stay functional during their later years of life. When not coaching or training clients, you can find Justin taking one of his scheduled classes right along side his members.
Faces Of New Bedford #132: Vernon Miles
Vernon originally grew up in Central Massachusetts, but moved out to the area for school. He ended up getting into banking as a teller for Fleet bank. He quickly moved up through the bank and got involved with business banking.
After being swindled during the purchase of his first home, he decided to learn more about mortgages, leading him into the lender business. He began working as a broker and after getting married, ventured into the business full-time. Vernon took his own personal experience and used that as the catalyst of helping educate people on home ownership, so they wouldn’t make the same mistake that he had in the past.
After some time in the business, he was able to rise out of the recession in 2008, successfully growing the business he was working for and helping countless local families securely buy homes. Vernon also volunteers on several boards, including United Way and Junior Achievement. He has helped run the Titan Challenge at Umass Dartmouth with Junior Acheivement, which helps high school sophomores win scholarship money by teaching them how to run businesses with a simulated game.
Recent, Vernon has taken the role of Area Sales Manager of Caliber Home Loans, the second-largest mortgage servicer in the country. He is excited as this company, which is new to the area, is going to open up access to all new loan programs to current and potential local home owners, not previously offered by any other company.
Faces Of New Bedford #133: Justine Santos
Meet Justine Santos, 36-year-old Assistant Principal at Congdon Elementary School. Justine was born and raised in New Bedford and after graduating high school, she went on to further her education at Temple University. She eventually transferred to UMass Dartmouth to be closer to home, where she finished her degree in english.
She immediately went back for her Master’s in education and began teaching English to students at Normandin Middle School in grades six through eight. During her time at Normandin, she became passionate about her job and pouring into each and every one of her students. The principal of Normandin, Stephen Farrell asked her to intern in the aspiring administrator/apprentice program, as she was in the doctorate program at UMass and he saw her drive and care for her students.
This program allowed for her to secure her admin license and be eligible for the position of Assistant Principal at Congdon elementary school. In this new position, she was able to take the passion she had not only for her students, but the city as a whole. Being the granddaughter of activist Ben Rose Sr., she’s always felt a calling on her life to do more for the city.
Faces Of New Bedford #134: Jeffrey Pelletier
Jeff was born extremely premature, his lungs collapsed and he was given his last rights on his 2nd day of life. Fortunately, he pulled through and as he grew older he understood life to be such an amazing gift and asked himself what he was going to do with that gift. He grew up in New Bedford, graduated from Bishop Stang High School, and went on to Methodist University in North Carolina where he received his business degree.
After college, he worked internationally with nonprofits in Haiti and Honduras where he helped support medical programs for communities that were ravaged by poverty and job creation programs to help families build a better life for themselves. After traveling around the world and across the country and working with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to local aid organizations – he moved back home to New Bedford to make a difference.
After volunteering with numerous local nonprofits and working with the New Bedford Economic Development Council and Sylvia Group, a leading local company, he accepted the role of President at Junior Achievement. Since then, he has used the knowledge he gained in his experience around the world to impact youth in New Bedford and across the region by preparing local students for their academic and career success. Out of the 109 JA Chapters across the U.S., Jeff and his team have been able to help the local chapter grow at the second-fastest rate in the country and they expect to serve nearly 7,000 local youth this year. He hopes to be able to help students in our community understand what it takes to achieve their dreams and equip them with the tools to attain those goals. Jeff, his wife Nataly and their two boys live in New Bedford.
Faces Of New Bedford #135: Shaun Monteiro
Shaun grew up playing all sorts of sports, so when his dad got him a job working at Gold’s Gym in Dartmouth, he was very excited. Although he started as just the cleaning boy, he worked his way up to the manager of the gym, while also falling in love with working out. He found enjoyment in challenging himself to get stronger, improve his techniques and stay disciplined.
This passion drove Shaun into various forms of competitions while he was in college, including bodybuilding shows, weightlifting competitions, CrossFit games and even a relay sport called GRID. He and his semi-pro team were flown out to a worldwide competition in California, where they were pit against the best GRID teams and finished in first place.
Upon graduating from Johnson and Wales with honors from their business program in 2014, Shaun decided to launch the company he had been envisioning for quite some time, Finest Hour Athletics. During his time in the fitness industry, he felt that there was a brand missing that spoke to the people who were entrenched in the culture and he intended to do that with his brand. Alongside his business partner, Ryan Tavares, they started making t-shirts that would evolve into the storefront business located in Downtown New Bedford. Shaun is so passionate about the message behind Finest Hour, which doesn’t mean you need to be training to win a bodybuilding show, but allow yourself to be ready for the moment that could define your whole life. He hopes that he can continue to use his abilities and brand to motivate others to reach their goals and chase their passion.
Faces Of New Bedford #136: Nelly Saravia
Nelly’s interest in photography began when she worked for Amvona in Mansfield, which was a company that imported and sold backdrops, lighting, and other photography supplies. Her boss started a form of social media in 2006, before Facebook really picked up speed and encouraged their employees to create profiles and upload images. Nelly bought a camera and started photographing her kids.
This newly found passion developed over the next few years, as she started photographing families and working with other photographers as a second shooter on a few weddings. In 2008, she began photographing her own weddings and in 2010, she left her job to pursue her photography career full-time. During her first few years she focused on wedding, newborn and family photography, but as she got busier she started focusing more on just wedding and boudoir sessions.
Photography has become such a pivotal portion of Nelly’s life, as she finds it so satisfying to be able to capture the most precious moments in her clients lives. Whether it is a photograph a family who may be going through something difficult or documenting a young woman’s struggle with breast cancer, she has been honored to capture those moments in time. She has even been involved with the Van Noy Valor Foundation recently, which seeks to help raise funds for foster families who might not have all of the necessary funds to pay for the child’s expenses, helping them photograph their events. She has also given her time to photograph for many other non-profits and gives away many sessions to families in need and to women who struggle with self-esteem.
Faces Of New Bedford #137: Scott Botelho
After growing up in the area, Scott began working at Massachusetts Department of Correction in Bridgewater. Knowing that he didn’t want to spend the rest of his life as a corrections officer, he started researching the real estate market. His father-in-law Jesse Amorin took him under his wing and taught him the business.
As with any major life decision, Scott carefully mapped out his course as a real estate agent and once his business was established, he left corrections in 2007. He owes all of his success in the industry to his ability to foster and maintain relationships, treating his clients as if they were his family, not letting them sell a house for less than what it’s worth or buy a house he didn’t feel would put them in a good position.
His passion for the city has driven almost 80 percent of all of his business here, where he is able to help the people of our city attain the dream of owning their own house. In 2016 he became the #1 RE/MAX agent in Massachusetts and as a result he recently added 2 full time agents to better serve the community.
Faces Of New Bedford #138: Kathlyn Dias
Kathlyn was born in New Bedford to two Cape Verdean parents, who migrated to New Bedford to create a better life for their family. After high school, Kathlyn attended Umass Dartmouth for one year and didn’t return as she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do for a career at that point in her life.
She had always dreamt of becoming a model and in magazines, so she began building a following on social media platforms, using Youtube to review different make-up that she uses and offering tutorial videos. With the push from her now husband, Sean, they began taking her journey seriously, submitting her content to several large beauty companies annual contests. In 2017, she won every contest she submitted her work to and this opened the door for her to work with companies such as Palmers, Maybeline, Covergirl, MAC Cosmetics, and Elf Cosmetics.
Using her reach on Instagram, where she has over 120,000 followers, she works with many brands to promote their products and allow herself to be a stay at home mom to her two children, working with her husband to create all of the content they use for promotion. She hopes that she can inspire the youth from our city to never give up on their dreams.
“Seek God first and find your purpose. Don’t let anything hold you back and when you find the thing that fulfills you, don’t get caught up in the things that don’t matter, but chase your dreams.”
Faces Of New Bedford #139: Chris “Gazelle” Arsenault
Chris has always had a love for music, picking up the saxophone as a child and learning to play 11 other instruments throughout his life. After high school, Chris wanted to get away to find himself, going to Lyndon State College in Vermont.
While there he started out with a major in Meteorology, but during his third year, they opened a Music Business with the Industry program, which immediately sparked his interest. Under the tutelage of one of his professors Joe Gittleman, bass play for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, he soaked in as much information about the music industry that he could. He even had the opportunity to interview the Dropkick Murphy’s as a final project for his degree.
Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree, he moved back to the area and found himself doing promoting for Fun107. With many years of hard work and dedication, Chris filled in a temporary position on the morning show, which he eventually permanently filled. His love for the Southcoast fuels his desire to put his all into his job at the station as well as his philanthropic endeavors. Not only has he been involved with a partnership with United Way New Bedford in their Holiday Wishes Program, as well as working with Misson 22 and PAACA’s Homeless Count.
“Always stay humble. I want to use my voice here for good.”
Faces Of New Bedford #140: John Silva
Jon started his coaching career during his freshman year of college, under the tutelage of Ed Rodrigues, while also working as a paraprofessional at New Bedford High School. He coached alongside Coach Rodrigues from 2003 to 2006.
It was in 2006, when his wife took over the Montes Park Summer Basketball league, which was focused on the youth in the community and serviced the families that didn’t have the transportation or money to send their kids to other basketball leagues in the city. He spent every summer until 2011, coaching teams and pouring into the youth in the south end of the city.
Jon was also working for Justice Resource Institute at the time, working with troubled youth who attended a day program because they were on house arrest or being processed through the judicial system. He from there because a therapeutic mentor, spending one on one time with youth who need help developing skills to be productive members of our community. He also referred high school basketball games for and 2 years ago was hired to referee college basketball at the division 3 level.
Faces Of New Bedford #141: Rafaela DeFigueiredo Spence
Rafaela moved to New Bedford with her family from Brazil, just a day before her seventh birthday. Transitioning into school in the US was a difficult task for her, as she only knew how to speak Portuguese, but made the move to english speaking classes after 3 years as a bilingual student. Despite the difficulties of learning a new language, she had such a huge passion for school and learning.
This love drove her into a career path involved in the education field, going to Umass Dartmouth where she received a bachelors degree in Psychology and a masters degree in clinical psychology, which helped her become an Adjustment Counselor in the New Bedford Public Schools. She started her career at Pacheco Elementary and it was while there that the principal, Marcia Faucher, inspired her to begin her journey to become a principal in the New Bedford Public School System.
After receiving her doctorate from Northeastern University in Urban Leadership, she became the assistant principal at Gomes School and would eventually move on to become the principal of Kempton Elementary school. Due to restructuring in the cities school system, Kempton closed and Rafaela moved into the role of principal of W. H. Taylor School, located in the cities south end. While in this position she has helped facility the move to their new building and also impact the lives of her students each day. She finds joy in working in the city she migrated to as a child because of her love for the home it has become and her desire to see each and every one of her students succeed.
Randall grew up in New Bedford and dealing with a lot of trouble during his youth, even dropping out of school twice, he knew he had to do something to change that. During a period where his parents were splitting up, he sold his last few possessions in his late teens and moved to Florida to stay with his grandmother to clear his mind.
While in Florida, Randall worked at a resturant, where he met a man that changed his life, whether he knew it or not at the time. He would come in once a week and constantly give him tips about real estate and how to become successful in life. Taking head to his advice, Randy went and got his broker’s license, which landed him a position working for E Value mortgage. The owners took him under their wings and showed him everything they knew, but when the market crashed in 2008-2009, he was left with little money to his name and they relocated their business to bounce back during the recession.
With no other hope in mind, he moved back home and tried his luck back here. Just when things looked like they were going to pan out, he faced several failing businesses in the face and almost gave up on trying. Rather than walk away though, he turned those failures into the desire to truly succeed. He has since joined up with partners in Boston and helped sell 15 million dollars in properties to developers who work in condo conversion and is planning to sell 75 million worth of property this year. Randall also has his hands in growing a franchise of pizza restaurants in Florida and startup that he hopes will help integrate smart technology into people’s home’s.
“Fail hard and fail often, that is your success. You look at it as a failure because you didn’t get what you wanted but it’ll give you the fire to push to the next level.”
Faces Of New Bedford #143: John Mosher
John has always been involved in sports and knew from an early age that he wanted to eventually coach and teach. John spent a little time in college after high school but still uncertain on what he wanted to do, he began working in the Dartmouth House of Corrections. After his time there, he went on to get his bachelors degree at Bridgwater State University and began to pursue his dream of teaching.
He began his career at New Bedford High School, teaching freshman algebra. John was quickly recruited to help out with the basketball team and after some time helping with the team, was asked to coach boys football. He did that for a short period of time but eventually took over the position of coaching the freshman basketball team. A few years ago, with the school being in desperate need of a Girls Lacrosse coach, he took the position, even though he didn’t have a background in the sport at all.
He quickly fell in love with the sport and did as much work as he could to be able to build a successful team for the school. Since his time with the team, they have made it to the state tournament, facing off against school systems that have youth feeder programs, training girls from the age 5 up, where New Bedford doesn’t. He loves his job and is honored to have the impact he does on the incoming freshman every year.
John hopes to be able to help them set the foundation for their academic and professional careers early on so that they have the tools and knowledge to be successful in life. Aside from his positions at the school, John is also the director of St. Julies CYO program, where he coordinates the teams and coaches, while also coaching one of their boy’s basketball teams.
Faces Of New Bedford #144: Roger Chouinard
Meet Roger Chouinard, musician and owner of Purchase Street Records. Growing up his uncle played for a band called Billy Squire and tour with acts like Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, and Gary Moore, just to name a few.
This uncle’s influence drove Roger to start playing music and he fell in love with playing the drums. Over time he has played in a few different bands, such as Drained and Closer than Kin. While playing for Closer than Kin, their following really took off and they toured throughout the US, Canada, and Europe. When he wasn’t making music and touring with the band he had started buying and selling collectors items at flee markets and fairs.
He got interested in records when he bought a collection of records and saw how well they sold and seeing people’s reactions to finally getting the album they always wanted. This pushed him to open a record store in 2016, with the advice of No Problemo owner Craig Paiva, opening right on Purchase Street, dubbing it Purchase Street Records. Since opening he has had the great experience of helping collectors find everything they’ve need, carrying such vast amount of music in the store.
Since opening Roger has released an album through the store, a two sided vinyl, featuring local bands The Pourmen and the Black Kennedy’s. He also provides the music daily to 94 HJY, to play on their Final Vinyl Hour.
Wilson moved to the US when he was 12 years old from Portugal. The transition for him was a bit difficult and during that time he got himself in a bit of trouble. At the age of 16 though, he saw two paths for himself and wanted to make sure that he went down the right one. Rather than use his fighting for bad, he decided to hone those abilities and began training with Jeffery Perez, who saw the potential Wilson had to become a professional boxer.
Continuing his training, he graduated high school and began college, all while working several jobs, like construction and personal training. As an amateur boxer, Wilson traveled all across New England, training in new gyms, sparring with other boxers and holding a record of 5-4, he diligently prepared himself to achieve his dreams of becoming a professional boxer. It was December of 2017 when he got the call that would change his life, he had been offered his first professional boxing match in February at Twin Rivers Casino.
Wilson had to make a tough decision of taking a chance and quitting his full-time job and deferring his enrollment at Bridgewater State, just to be able to take the chance of a lifetime. Although Wilson went on to lose his first fight, he walked away feeling more victorious than he had ever felt after his previous wins as an amateur. He had finally gotten to the point that he had always dreamed of while also understanding it was the start of the biggest journey of his life. With an amazing team behind him, Wilson is continuing to train for his next fight and growing in the sport of boxing.
“I just want to be able to show kids who don’t have hope or a vision of their dreams coming true, that with hard work and focus you can achieve those dreams.”
Faces Of New Bedford #147: Kayla Mederios
Growing up Kayla always struggled to maintain weight, fluctuating up and down into her mid-20s. After graduating from BCC and she began her career as an occupational therapy assistant, which was inspired by working on an Alzheimer’s unit as a CNA and wanting to help people even more. She quickly became good friends with her co-workers, who inspired her to began her fitness journey.
Along that road, she lost 75 pounds by incorporating weight training and eventually Buti Yoga. She was introduced to Buti Yoga at a class and then began regularly attending classes at Motion Dance and then at Ritual Yoga Studio. It was her instructor, Tara, who inspired her to take it to the next level and after a year of attending classes, she took her certification test in June of 2017.
Since receiving her certification she has begun teaching classes at Supreme Perfection Dance studio in Fairhaven and Gotta Dance Studio in New Bedford. She is glad that she has been able to take the inspiration from her friends to not only transform her own life but utilize it to transform the lives of her students. She is also planning on getting her Buti Sculpt certification this June, which is a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) version of Buti, using poses in between exercises.
“No matter how long the journey takes you’re always one step closer to your dreams.”
Faces Of New Bedford #148: Warley Williams
Meet Warley Williams, 33-year-old Assistant Principal of Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech. After high school, Warley attended UMass Dartmouth hoping to graduate with a degree in Computer Science, but shortly into his first semester, he found out that his now wife was pregnant with their first child. Out of his father’s house and with bills adding up, he knew that he had to do what was right for them at the moment and left school to work at a lumberyard.
During that brutally cold winter, he quickly realized that he needed to find a way to make a better life for his family. With the mounting gang violence in the city during that time, he was inspired to get into education, in a hope to guide the future generations in a better direction. Starting at BCC, he began studying history, eventually returning to finish his degree at UMass.
While attending school, he started substitute teaching for the New Bedford Public School system. He was called to substitute a few times at Whaling City, the alternative high school, as they felt he a had a great way of relating to the students there.
He accepted a full-time history teacher position at Whaling City and after a short period there he was asked to become the principal of the school. He was excited to be a role model to the students there and help kids graduate and further their education or get a job, which prior to their attendance at Whaling City, didn’t have the hope for either.
When the principal position became vacant at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech, he applied for the position, hoping to impact an even larger population of the city’s youth. Although they had someone else for that position, they offered him the assistant principal position, which he interviewed for and received. Along with his roles as assistant principal, he also is chair of the graduation committee, co-facilitator of the mentor program, co-advisor of the National Honor Society, and Director of Security at the school.
Outside of his career, Warley strives to give back to his community. He is a board of director for the United Way of greater New Bedford; directs summer programs for 8th graders going into high school to close the summer learning gap, and he and his family has hosted a teenager from the Bronx for the Fresh Air Fund for the last five years. Warley is very passionate about helping his community and bettering the future of all kids in the Greater New Bedford area.
Faces Of New Bedford #149: Daisy Ormseth
At the age of 14, Daisy found out that she was pregnant and decided to move in with her now husband, to be able to raise their daughter together. Living with her boyfriend and their daughter, they struggled to get by and she even dropped out of high school. By the age 18, she had seen a posting for an EMT job and knew she needed to go back to school for her family and their future. After receiving her GED and passing EMT school, she began her career as an EMT and worked in Boston for 10 years.
In and out of hospitals, she had tons of contact with the emergency staff and seeing how much they were able to do for the patients they brought in, she decided to go back to school to become a registered nurse. Upon graduating Massasoit with her associates degree in Nursing, she began working as an emergency nurse at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. While also working part time in St. Lukes emergency room, she continued to go back to school, getting her bachelors from UMass Boston and then her master’s degree from Simmons College, to become a Nurse Practitioner and to be able to provide more care for her patients.
Since becoming a Nurse Practitioner, she has been able to work in family practice at Prima Care of Fall River. She has also been able to volunteer in several capacities, such as traveling to Miami and the Keys to help with Hurricane Irma Relief. She also is planning to volunteer at the Boston Marathon this upcoming holiday weekend. With advocacy, not only for her patients but other nurses, so important to her, Daisy is also planning on returning to school for her doctorate in nursing, with the hope to work in policy, creating safer environments for nurses to work in, allowing for better care of their patients.
“Some people say you shouldn’t look back because thats not where your going, but I think it’s important to see where you came from.”
Faces Of New Bedford #150: Jack Leao
Jack’s parents moved to the US from Cape Verde prior to his birth in the mid 80’s, which is where dad began DJing local events and parties. When he and his brother were old enough, their father began taking them to events to help him and learn how to DJ.
After high school, Jack and his brother continued DJing local hall events and some small events at UMass Dartmouth. This allowed Jack to gain enough experience to begin DJing at clubs, starting at Tantric in Providence. Under the umbrella of the dj group, Passport DJs, he began working at several clubs each week, even working for the internet radio station based in Fall River called Hurricane Radio.
Over the last few years, he has been able to take his talents as an International DJ, specializing in music from all over the world, all over New England, New York, and New Jersey, performing at some of the largest nightclubs in those areas. Jack has also been involved in charity events, providing music for at the events free-of-charge to help raise money for causes, such as the Volcano that ravaged Cape Verdean island of Fogo in 2015. His hope is to take his shows international and perform across the world.
Matt grew up in a family that was always cooking, so it was no surprise to him that when he graduated high school, that he went to school to pursue a career in culinary. He wanted to get out and see other places, so he applied to the furthest culinary schools he could and was accepted into New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont.
What drew Matt to this school the most was their internship program and the fact that their learning experiences took place in the kitchen of the Inn at Essex, getting hands-on experience in the field. During his time there, he worked through every station in the kitchen, from the front of the house to the back of the house. During his two six month internships he worked at a restaurant in Prout-Neck, Maine and another in Big Sur, California.
He decided to stay in California and this began his journey back and forth between the East in West coast, gaining more experience and knowledge in several different kitchen environments. One major concern for him was making his dishes with all fresh product, especially seafood and not finding that anywhere else, he moved back to New Bedford, where he could get fresh vegetables, meats, and seafood.
After moving back and working at several restaurants, his parents approached him with the idea of opening a ramen/noodle restaurant like one they had visited while in Iceland. Together with his parents and co-owners Jim and Maddi, they entered the E For All Program, where they fine-tuned their menu and gained the knowledge to open up their Purchase street location. Noodle Bowl New Bedford specializes in making noodle bowls with flavors from around the world, featuring Portuguese, Polish, and even a spin on the classic Asian Braised Beef bowl. Matt hopes to be able to make a staple in downtown with their venture, bringing a new spin on an old classic.
“I want to get better, every single day.”
Faces Of New Bedford #152: Nataniel Barbosa
Meet Nataniel Barbosa, 35-year-old master barber and co-owner of United Barbershop. Nataniel grew up in Cape Verde and moved to New Bedford at the age of 16. Coming to the country at that age made it very difficult for him to learn the language like a younger child would, but regardless persevered and graduated from New Bedford High School.
With his friend’s father owning Tropicals Hair Salon and Barbershop, he spent a lot of time around the profession and even helped out at the shop sweeping and stocking stations. This pushed him to learn how to cut hair himself, eventually enrolling in Rob Roy Academy, where he received his barber’s license.
Nataniel worked at Tropicals until 2009, which is when he had his first child and knew he needed to make a move in his career to provide for his family. Along with fellow barber Jailson Sequeira, he opened United Barbershop just after getting his master barbers license. He is proud to know that he was able to come to this country and establish a business in the community, helping various local organizations and basketball teams, while also participating in aid efforts to his home country of Cape Verde.
Faces Of New Bedford #153: Abrah Zion
Abrah has always been into photography, stealing her parent’s polaroid and film cameras as a kid, taking photos of anything she could. With both of her parents as teachers, she knew she wouldn’t be able to go to college for photography and majored in Near Eastern and Judaic studies at Brandeis University, but kept on photographing with her friends.
After graduation, her career path took a detour and she got into computing, working for several companies before settling at Coastline Elderly in New Bedford, servicing their computers and phone systems. After the birth of her first daughter, during her maternity leave, she turned her passion toward her brand new child and became obsessed with photographing her.
This obsession turned into her photographing friend’s kids and before she knew it, she didn’t return to her position at Coastline and had started her own photography business. Since opening, she has been able to make a name for herself in the SouthCoast and beyond by being published in the international magazine, “Taopan – The Art of Pregnancy and Newborn”, as well as the national magazine “Beauty and Lifestyle Mommy Magazine”. She has also won awards such as #1 Photographer in Best of the SouthCoast 2017 awards, 3 years in a row as Parent’s Choice Award from the Motherhood Society and has been listed as one of the top 10 maternity photographers in Massachusetts by PhotographyMagazine.com in 2016.
She is also working to become an accredited safety expert by the APNPI, The Accredited Professional Newborn Photographer. Abrah also volunteers for the organization Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep as well as donating sessions to families who couldn’t otherwise afford the sessions.
Faces Of New Bedford #154: David Lima
As early as David could remember he had a deep love for God and people, so much of a love that he even stood on a chair during one of their family Thanksgiving celebrations announcing that he would one day be a priest. As a teen though, he fell away from his involvement in the church, until meeting his wife and them both dedicating their lives to serving God.
This started with their involvement at New Seasons Worship Center in the late 80s, pastoring on staff and eventually taking over as senior pastor in 2000. During his time working with the church, David got involved with the Interchurch Council of Greater New Bedford, an organization created almost 80 years ago to create dialogue between over 45 different local churches on how they can serve the community. It was during involvement with the council that appointed him as the executive minister.
The council, under David’s leadership, has been able to combat a good amount of the struggles our city faces. They’ve created the Greater New Bedford Suicide Prevention Coalition in order to reduce the amount of victims lost to suicide in our city and provide intervention and prevention strategies to people of all ages, from students at local schools to professionals in the workplace.
David has helped usher in the police ride alongs, which started to help the police bridge gaps in the communities by walking the beat with chaplains and has grown into the Opioid Task Force, which helps follow up with victims of drug overdoses, providing counsel and resources for them to gain new direction in their lives.
Faces Of New Bedford #155: Josh Amaral
Meet Josh Amaral, New Bedford School Committee member and Assistant Director of Fuel Assistance and Planning at PACE. Josh spent his entire life in New Bedford, graduating from New Bedford High School in 2011.
Upon graduation, he attended UMass Dartmouth majoring in Political Science with the thought of one day pursuing law school. In his last year at UMass, he began his campaign for School Committee, hoping to make a positive change in the direction that the department was heading at the time. After being elected to the School Committee, he was elected by the community to the PACE Board of Directors, and later took a full time role with the agency as Assistant Director of Fuel Assistance and Planning.
After being elected to the School Committee, Josh and his peers began working diligently to bring reform to the school department. Since working with the committee, he has helped usher in a more professionalized and systemized structure to the school department. They’ve developed better budget management practices and have focused on meeting the needs of the students.
His hope for the future of the department is to bring back the prestige that New Bedford High School once held. Although the school’s conditions and performance have been improving in the last few years, he knows there is still much to be done. Josh hopes to introduce more vocational aspects to the school, allowing students who may not see themselves jumping head first into college the ability to gain skills that will get them employment directly out of high school.
“Work hard, dream big, and give back.” – Qualcomm founder and New Bedford native Irwin Jacobs quoted recently at the ribbon-cutting of the Irwin Jacobs Elementary School.
Faces Of New Bedford #156: Benny Olmeda
Meet Benny Olmeda, 37-year-old Realtor and Sales Manager at RE/MAX Vantage, as well as co-owner of Shop U7. Benny moved to the US at the age of 5 from Puerto Rico with his sister and mother, growing up in the Westlawn housing complex in the cities West End. Wanting to escape the trouble that surrounded him, he worked hard to secure himself a job working in infrastructure in Boston after graduating high school.
Benny’s longtime friend and broker, Eddie Lopez, had always suggested he get into the real estate market, seeing his entrepreneurial mindset and friendly personality. He got licensed and slowly began assisting family and friends with buying and selling their homes. Benny didn’t get heavily involved in the market until 2015 though when he saw the possibilities his talents could achieve for him. Giving himself 6 months, he told himself if he could focus 2 hours a day and weekends to real estate, he would venture into it full-time, which only took a month and a half for him to make the transition.
Since then Benny has been able to help countless local families buy and sell their homes, hoping to help families who were just like his when they moved to New Bedford. Not only has he focused on real estate but pursuing his passions, one of which is his love for the sneaker culture. He and several friends came together to open Shop U7 in 2014, a consignment shop that buys and sells sneakers not only locally, but all over the world. He loves seeing that the store has been able to bring people from across all walks of life together with one sole purpose, collecting their favorite sneakers.
“Build your own dreams or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”
Faces Of New Bedford #157: Keri Branquinho
Keri has always had a love for learning and school, but after graduating high school she was more focused on working hard. She decided that she didn’t feel like she was ready for college, despite receiving multiple sports scholarships to different universities. Working multiple different jobs in her early twenties, she got involved in the field of working with those with behavioural and mental disorders.
When she was 28, after receiving a layoff from her full-time job, she decided that it was a sign to go back to school. She enrolled at Bristol Community College, fully immersing herself into the community there. She soon got involved with the campus’ Honors program and worked towards eventually becoming the president of the International Club her final year at the school. While at the school she also completed two Civic Engagement projects, where she volunteered her time to help run the International Club’s yearly celebration and working an unpaid internship with SEMC, working with students in schools and adults at their day program.
During her last year at the school, Keri received a letter informing her that she was eligible to apply for Valedictorian, the highest honor a graduate can receive. After an intensive interview process, she was selected out of 3 finalists to be the representative for her graduating class.
Keri not only has graduated as Valedictorian but received a full scholarship to Bridgewater State University, where she is going study with a concentration in social work. She intends to eventually open a wellness center, focused in preventive care for many mental and physical ailments.
“We are all individuals but we should all promote unity among diversity.”
Faces Of New Bedford #158: Jenny A. Liscombe-Newman
Meet Jenny A. Liscombe-Newman, 39-year-old artist and co-owner of TL6 The Gallery. Jenny grew up in Holliston, MA and didn’t realize she wanted to pursue art until a friends mother introduced her to jewelry making in high school. She took some adult education classes to start preparing a portfolio for college and before she knew it, was a freshman at UMass Dartmouth in the Jewelry/Metalsmithing program.
She fell in love with New Bedford, deciding to make it her home after completing school. It was before her senior year that her and her best friend, Arianna Swink, made a pact to open a studio if Arianna didn’t end up at the graduate school she was pursuing. Being turned off by the atmosphere of the school, Arianna stayed in New Bedford and began her journey with Jenny.
Jenny and her now business partner branded themselves under the title Tenacious Lilly, and began crafting their jewelry in a basement studio, selling their wares at home parties and consignment gift shops across the state. After outgrowing their studio, they moved into a space at The White Knight Gallery, now known as TL6 The Gallery. During the recession, the shop owners decided that they weren’t going to continue operation, so Jenny and Arianna took over the shop and re-conceived it to be the gallery it is today, focused on representing local artists while continuing to carry a few hand made retail lines.
Since opening their William Street Shop, Jenny has had the pleasure of meeting so many talented local artists, even assisting 5 students with internships in the store. Not only have they taken on interns, but have helped raise money for a former artist of theirs who was going to be getting a serious medical procedure and collected animal food for a local pet shelter.
Faces Of New Bedford #159: Amanda Ormseth
Meet Amanda Ormseth, 25-year-old Elementary Teacher and Buti Yoga Instructor. Amanda grew up in New Bedford and after graduation, she spent a lot of times waitressing and bartending while attaining her English degree from UMass Dartmouth. Knowing she didn’t want to continue working in restaurants, she applied for a substitute teaching position with at Carney Academy.
After starting her position at the school, she attained a full-time position teaching third grade. While working her job at Carney and Freestone’s, she spent a lot of her free time attending yoga classes, where she felt she was able to focus on mindfulness and inward reflection. The passion she had began to grow and after attending a Buti Yoga class her friend invited her to, she was sure she needed to learn more.
She began her certification with Tara from Ritual Sweat Society and in March was certified to teach Buti Yoga. Shortly after receiving her certification, she was asked to teach at their new location in Providence, which she has been doing for the last few weeks. She is also in the process of getting her 200 hour Yoga certification, so she can expand her reach as a teacher. Her hope as a Yogi is to help others realize the importance of mindfulness and pushing yourself beyond what you think is possible for yourself.
Faces Of New Bedford #160: Alex Moniz
Meet Alex Moniz, 24-year-old owner of The Breakfast Club Clothing and Trim Supervisor at Josep Abboud. Growing up Alex was always interested in clothes and fashion, really developing a passion for streetwear. As he got older, he played around with the idea of starting a clothing line but didn’t really pursue it right away. It was while he was studying at UMass Dartmouth that he got a job working at Joseph Abboud, where he began in the AccuMark Department, making the patterns of suits using computer software.
It was during this time that his passion for creating his own clothing company came to life. He dubbed it “The Breakfast Club,” a play on the 80s coming-to-age tale and his goal with the brand was to mirror the movie in more than just a name. His model for the brand was to bring together people from all different groups of people, just like in the movie, who share one common bond in fashion and streetwear.
Since starting the brand he has seen the brand grow through local word-of-mouth and social media. He’s sold his products in the Dartmouth Mall and has been able to ship orders across the country. He hopes to be able to grow to a place where he is not only selling internationally but making a living from the brand.
Faces Of New Bedford #161: Jocelynn Cabral
Meet Jocelynn Cabral, 30-year-old waitress and spin class instructor. Growing up, Jocelynn developed bad eating habits, which followed her into adulthood. After meeting her husband and eventually getting married, they both carried this habits into their relationships. After having their children, they noticed their children picking up these same tendencies and that’s when she knew they needed to make changes in her lifestyle.
Starting with yoga and eventually discovering spin at LA Cycle in Dartmouth, she was encouraged by all of her classmates to continue this journey she had begun. With adjustments to their diets and continued work, they both collectively lost over 200 pounds.
Her newfound passion for nutrition and wellness pushed her to take the 100-hour course, allowing her to teach spin classes herself. She saw the change in her mindset during this process and wanted to be able to help others find that like she had herself. She now teaches several classes a week at LA Cycle and hopes to continue to grow and help others.
Faces Of New Bedford #162: Marley Dauphin
Meet Marley Dauphin, 9-year-old actress and singer. As far back as she can remember, she always remembers singing. Her mother even told her of the numerous times that she would hum to music, well before she could even talk.
As she got older and her mother saw her continued desire to act out different skits around the house and sing along to her favorite songs. After some research, her mother got her involved with a talent agency around the age of 7, which has helped tremendously in helping Marley pursue her dreams of becoming an entertainer.
Since working with the agency she has work with several companies and brands, such as General Electrics, Hasbro, Disney, and Star Wars, acting in over 10 commercials which are and will-be airing nationally and internationally. Her most prominent role to date is as the daughter of Pedro Pasquel’s, The Equalizer 2. Harley says that working with Denzel was such an amazing experience and he encouraged her, saying that he sees a great talent in her. Her hope is to go on and star in her own TV show, a mix of Glee and Punky Brewster, with the hope of inspiring girls across the world to be positive, humble, and kind.
Faces Of New Bedford #163: Scott O’Brian
Meet Scott O’Brian, 27-year-old owner of Toyz4Boyz. Growing up in the area, Scott’s father had always been an entrepreneur, owning a bunch of different businesses. One of those businesses was a hobby store, where he sold, fixed, and repaired RC vehicles. Naturally, Scott fell in love with the vehicles and would race them, even competing in national competitions.
Over the years his father’s businesses brought them across the country, eventually landing them back in Fall River, where his father, along with his uncle, started Toyz4Boyz which specialized in RC vehicles and jet ski repair and sales. The company eventually relocated to New Bedford and Scott would work in the shop throughout his teenage years.
Once Scott had gotten older and was working for the U.S. Postal Service, his father was at a crossroad with the company, as he had a fish sales company that was taking his full attention. Rather than sell the company to someone else, he offered it to Scott and with his history in the industry, Scott decided to continue on his father’s legacy.
At Toyz4Boyz, Scott specializes in all types of RC vehicles, selling and repairing cars, trucks, drones, and boats. The shop is also the home to a race track, where they hold weekly and monthly race events. Recently, Scott has even held a charity race, where all of the raffle and entry fees went to the American Heart Association in memory of one of his customers who had passed of heart failure.
Faces Of New Bedford #164: Paul Vermette
Paul grew up in a family of four in the west end, with four brothers and sisters. With his mom working hard to provide for the family, he had a freedom that many kids his age didn’t, allowing him to hang out with friends, some good and some bad.
The influence his negative friends had didn’t manifest until he was a bit older, being kicked out of multiple middle schools in the city and dropping out of school during his junior year after losing a close friend to a car accident the year prior. He would go on to work multiple jobs and continue to travel through life without direction.
It wasn’t until he fell asleep at the wheel of his car late one night after work that his life would turn around. His car flipped multiple times into the median and after retrieving his belongings from the junkyard his life changed. The worker at the lot told him that nobody ever walked away form accidents like he had unscathed and handed him a funeral card that was recovered from his vehicle, the one he kept in memory of the friend he had lost so many years before.
This moment changed him and he immediately started trying to get his life back on track. Paul went back to night school to get his GED and enrolled in Bristol Community College not long after receiving it. College was a difficult transition but he knew that with this new lease on life, he had to give it all he had. Paul was quickly enrolled into the Commonwealth Honors Program and assisted on the President’s Transition Team, helping the new college president, along with a panel of administrators, to accomplish her first year goals at the school.
Paul graduated this last spring with an acceptance, which he is differing while he completes basic training with the Air National Guard, to Cornell University. He will be working with the intel department with the National Guard while he pursues a Communications degree.
Faces Of New Bedford #165: Neil Weiss
Meet Neal Weiss, 71-year-old founder of Fiber Optic Center and owner of Whaling City Sound. Growing up outside of New York, Neal reallocated to New Hampshire to teach after college, where he met his late-wife. She was originally from New Bedford, so after they got married they moved back to this area.
Neal was now commuting to Boston working for Boston Electronics Corp, running the day to day operation. This was all happening while he and his wife were raising their two children, when she became ill. This added stress drove him to find a way to work closer to home and spend more time with his family. He ended up buying the fiber optic portion of Boston Electronics Corp and relocating it to New Bedford as Fiber Optic Center.
After many years of running Fiber Optic Center, Neal decided to pursue his other passions in life. As an avid Jazz music fan, he decided to start a record company that put out Jazz albums. Working with artists all over New England, he has been able to put together handfuls of cd’s, even one that is being used by Destination New Bedford as a promotional item at the visitor’s center.
Faces Of New Bedford #166: Danielle Andrews
Danielle got involved in music very early on in life, winning multiple talent shows and involving herself in all music school activities growing up. In her late teenage years, she auditioned for and was selected as a member of the girl group Shades by a Boston-based entertainment company.
Danielle already had a successful solo career prior to joining the group, so was able to quickly work on their first album, which was finished 2 months after they got signed to Motown Records. They released their first single in 1997, which hit 19 on the R&B charts. They soon went on a 25 state tour with Keith Sweat.
During her time with the group, she toured with several other artists, such as SWV, Drew Hill, 702, and Mark Morrison. After the president of Motown Records was released from the company, all of the groups he signed were released with him, leaving Danielle and the group without a label to call home. Through her connections, she soon after went on tour with Enrique Iglesias, Whitney Houston, Lenny Kravitz, Bon Jovi, Destiny’s Child, and NSYNC.
After these years on the road, she decided to move back home to New Bedford to settle down and start a family. She moved away from the music business for a while, raising a family with her husband and teaching singing lessons. Recently, she has begun touring again and performing across New England, even releasing a single, which will be featured on her upcoming solo album.
Faces Of New Bedford #167: Jason Pires
Meet Jason Pires, 43-year-old Boxer, Police Officer, and Boxing Instructor. Boxing has always been a part of his family, so it was no wonder that Jason started at the early age of 5. He moved to New Bedford from Brockton when he was 15 years old, where he was introduced to Luis “Bucky” Vincent and began training with him at the Boy’s and Girl’s Club.
During his time as an amateur boxer, Jason won 5 New England Golden Glove awards and was runner-up twice for the National Golden Glove Award. This recognition landed him a spot on the National Boxing team, traveling to Moscow to compete. Jason even got to work and room with Floyd Mayweather Jr. during this time period. This led to him being chosen as an alternate on the US Olympic Boxing team during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Jason went on to fight as a pro, finishing with a record of 24-4-1, 9 knockouts and the USBA Junior Featherweight title.
During the tail end of his boxing career, Jason pursued his second dream, becoming a police officer. With a degree in Criminal Justice from Umass Dartmouth, he became a New Bedford Police officer in 2005, serving the city while also competing professionally. He later went on to become a Massachusetts State Trooper, which had always been his dream.
In 2015, Jason Pires dedicated to take his love for boxing and pursue coaching to full time. Since then he has launched his business JP Boxing Club in New Bedford. He loves taking all that he has experienced in his career and passing that knowledge on to other fighters who wish to achieve the same things he did.
Faces Of New Bedford #168: Julian Juan
Meet Julian “DJ Jules Flava” Juan, 36-year-old DJ and streamer. Julian grew up in a Puerto Rican family that was always listening to a diverse selection of music. This atmosphere pushed him to want to become a singer but after realizing he didn’t have the talent for it, he pursued becoming a rapper as a teen.
It wasn’t until he saw DJ Jazzy Jeff spinning live on TV, that he knew what he was meant to do musically. Being a teenager, he would save as much as he could from his Papa Gino paychecks to save up for the equipment he had researched, in magazines and from local DJs. As a student in the Upward Bound program, he was paired up with DJ Wal-Gee, a local DJing legend, who showed him the ropes. Once he got his equipment, he began DJing wherever he could, from parties at his Alma Mater of UMass Dartmouth to their radio station.
Wanted to expand his reach as a DJ, he reached out to DJ Pup Dawg at JAMN 94.5, hoping to land an internship, which he did. He’d put together weekly mixes and help out at the morning show, fulfilling well beyond his 14 hours of required service. After months of deliverance, he was welcomed on as a part of the team.
Since at the station, Julian has been able to expand his reach building relationships with recording artists and business. Not only does he work for the station DJing, but doing private events and weddings. He has even recently started streaming on Twitch, interviewing celebrities and artists, all while playing old school video games for their online audience. He is also using Youtube to educate people on thrones disease, vlogging his own journey on finding a help from his illness.
Faces Of New Bedford #169: Kelley Mosher
Meet Kelley Cabral-Mosher. 45-year-old Therapist and Field Hockey Coach. Growing up, Kelley always knew she wanted to help people. In high school, she volunteered in several community outreach programs, which spurred her into going to college for her bachelor’s degree in sociology. After graduating from UMass Dartmouth, she worked heavily in HIV/AIDs outreach.
After some time, she realized that she wanted to be able to help people at a deeper level and began studying to obtain her MSW and become licensed to clinically practice. Focusing on mindfulness, she has worked to equip her clients with the tools necessary to overcome their depression, anxiety, trauma, and various other issues.
As of July of this year, aside from being a wife and mother of two boys, Kelley has also begun working with Mass in Motion, a grant-sponsored organization, which focuses on bettering our community. Her focus has been on helping reduce obesity, by finding ways to help bring healthier food options and alternatives, along with education to our city. Kelley is also an assistant coach with the Dartmouth High School Field Hockey team.
Faces Of New Bedford #170: Fitzcarmel LaMarre
Meet Fitzcarmel LaMarre, 44-year-old graphic artist and painter. Fitzcarmel was born in Boston and moved to Miami, Florida when he was four, where he would spend the next 30 years of his life.
During his time in South Florida, he graduated from high school and began a career as a graphic designer and freelance artist. He worked for several different companies before landing himself a job in California.
He started working for NTS Group, a design firm that worked on some really cool projects in home entertainment packaging and advertising campaigns in Los Angeles. The owner also started a non-profit, Nuevo South, which is when the idea of working in the non-profit sector intrigued Fitzcarmel. Unfortunately, after the market crash in 2008, he found himself freelancing until ultimately unemployed. In 2010 he got back on his feet with design agency The CRP Group and even art directed the cover of Galaxy Quest Deluxe Edition packaging. Fitz would eventually move to South Dartmouth to be closer to family.
Once he had moved to the area and began focusing on recreating his life as a traditional artist, he began painting and quickly got involved with the artist community at Gallery X. Under the tutelage of Chuck Hauck, former gallery President, he began to learn about the culture and the city and soon fell in love. After working with the New Bedford Art Museum’s ArtMobile, Fitz became extremely interested in bringing more free art to the youth of New Bedford. He began the Creative Oasis: Youth Arts Project in 2016-7, offer free art in three locations during spring vacation. He funded the program through grants he wrote offered by the New Bedford Cultural Council, which he would join and served.
Most recently, Fitzcarmel has become one of four, new artists-in-residence with the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park where he is creating the graphic novel, “New Deadford.” The story places New Bedford five years into a zombie apocalypse, showing how the diverse community works to make New Bedford the richest city in the world for the 3rd time. Taking this unique spin, he hopes to work with the National Park Service to raise awareness for the greatness of our community and the people who live here.
Faces Of New Bedford #171: Matthew Aguiar
Meet Matthew Aguiar, 24-year-old Photographer and Graphic Designer. Matt got interested in art during his time in middle school, doodling during classes as a tool to keep him from getting distracted while taking notes. Seeing his talents, his parents pushed him to go to New Bedford Voc-Tech, where he could focus on his skills in the Visual Design shop.
After his time at New Bedford Voc-Tech, he decided to enroll in Bristol Community College’s Graphic Design program, inspired by Marisa Millard, the program’s director, during a community service project. It was while at BCC that Matt discovered photography, and although he hated his first photography class, he eventually fell in love. After one of his classmates introduced him to Instagram, his success really began to explode.
He began to amass hundred of followers of his work, exploring portrait photography in many different ways. While finishing up his bachelor’s degrees in Photography and Graphic Design, he was able to be featured by Pursuit of Portraits, a global account featuring the top photographers across the globe. He even had his work selected to be printed in their biannual book as well.
Matt’s goals are to continue to grow his line of work in photography, focusing on becoming a better portrait photographer. He is currently growing his wedding photography workload while also working with different clothing brands and models.
Faces Of New Bedford #172: Marc Frey
Meet Marc Frey, 27-year-old Electrician and Hockey Coach. Growing up, Marc knew he wanted to learn a trade and during his time at New Bedford Voc-Tech High School, he studied to become an electrician. While at the high school, he also made a name for himself with his hockey skills, landing him a spot on the Cape Cod Blue Fins, a professional hockey team affiliated with the AHL and NHL. After a few years of playing for the team, he returned to his work as an electrician.
At the age of 23, Marc had gotten his electrician’s license and between his full-time job and side work he was extremely busy. He knew that he wanted to work towards creating his own vision and although many people told him he was foolish for it, he left his job to start his own company.
His vision started out small, only expecting to work with one other partner, but as the word started to spread about his work, he now finds himself employing 10 electricians, one of them a co-op student from New Bedford Voc-Tech. Not also does he continue to run his business, but is also the Assistant Coach of the New Bedford Voc-Tech’s Varsity Hockey Team, where he is able to pour back into the kids who are in the position he was once in.
Faces Of New Bedford #173: Breckingridge Marshal
Meet Breckingridge Marshal, 56-year-old Paramedic and ALS Coordinator at STAT New England. Breck was first interested in entering the medical field during his time in college, shifting gears from his studies in Geology to becoming a paramedic. He worked as an EMT while going to school for his paramedic courses, working at STAT Dartmouth, which did all of the 911 calls for Dartmouth at the time and didn’t have any paramedics.
After becoming a paramedic, he knew that he would have to move to get experience in the field, so he moved to New Mexico. After 13 years of working there, he and his family moved back to New Bedford in 2001, wanting to be closer to his family and city that he loved.
Since returning back Breck has worked for several different emergency service companies, helping to save the lives of countless local residents over the years. Recently, Breck has been recognized by the National Registry of Emergency Medical Services for 30 years of outstanding service as well as taking over as the ALS Coordinator at STAT New England. Since there he has assisted in a staffing overhaul and upgrade of several systems, all while continuing to help in the success and growth of the company.
Faces Of New Bedford #174: Zechariah Stockbarger
Meet Zechariah Stockbarger, 28-year-old Licensed Realtor for Amaral & Associates Real Estate Inc. Growing up Zechariah wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for a career. Entering into his 20s he worked for Target, where he was offered a senior management position.
While working there Zechariah had a daughter and he knew that he wanted to do more, not wanting to settle for his position working retail. After being introduced to real estate through a friend, he instantly became interested in the possibilities and opportunities that the career path could offer. After becoming licensed, he began working with Amaral & Associates Real Estate Inc, where he gained large amounts of knowledge about buying and selling properties.
While balancing a full-time job and pursuing his goals, he spent many sleepless nights focusing on the needs of his clients. With his position as a real estate agent, he was able to focus completely on his clients and not worry about making money, as his full time job allowed him to pay his bills. This time has allowed him to become well versed in the needs of those he works with, most importantly helping members in the community attain their own equity and invest in their city. Zechariah has actually just left his position at Target to pursue his flourishing career without any distraction from getting to where he wants to be.
Faces Of New Bedford #175: Gary Moujabber
Meet Gary Moujabber, 29-year-old general manager of The Lebanese Kitchen. When Gary was born, his parents had already established their family restaurant, The Lebanese Kitchen, in the city’s west end. His parent’s migrated here from Lebanon in the late 70s/early 80s and as far as he could remember he had always helped in the restaurant.
Gary continued to work at the restaurant throughout high school and college, doing whatever he could to help his parents, whether he waited tables or helped washing dishes. On July 11, 2014 though his family’s life was shaken, as their apartment building, which was also home to their restaurant, was lost to an accidental fire.
In the aftermath, the family was overwhelmed with the community support they received. It was clear to Gary, and his family, how much the restaurant and their family meant to the city and they began working towards reopening. In 2016, they acquired the old Mattapoisett Chowder House property on Rt. 6 and knew that this would be the fresh start they needed. Gary assumed the role of General Manager during their reopening and hopes to carry on the legacy his parents have set before him.
Faces Of New Bedford #176: Amanda Desrosiers
Meet Amanda Desrosiers, the 29-year-old founder, and owner of People’s Pressed. When Amanda was in high school she considered herself overweight and when she moved out of the house to go to college in Boston, she began focusing on how she ate and getting active. This journey not only led her into a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design but a passion for rock climbing.
While traveling and rock climbing across the country, she encountered several juice bars, something that she didn’t use to back here in New Bedford. She had been making juices at home, but it was on her journeys that she discovered the cold press method, where no heat or air is used to pull the juices from the fruits and vegetables. This process keeps the most amounts of nutrients and enzymes in the juice, making it healthier than other processes.
The process interested her and she decided that she wanted to open her own Juice Bar in New Bedford. While still working a full-time job, Amanda joined the Southcoast E-For-All to become educated on starting and running a business, where she worked with a mentor from the community and her cohorts in developing and executing their business plans. In Spring of 2018, she opened People’s Pressed, a juice bar and wellness hub in downtown New Bedford. Her hope is to be able to cultivate a community of people focused on eating and living clean, healthy lives.
Faces Of New Bedford #177: Sandra Orr
Meet Sandra Orr, 27-year-old Licensed Massage Therapist and E-RYT Yoga teacher. Growing up, Sandra had always been involved in dancing, even competing all throughout her childhood. As she got older, she started practicing yoga to help with the injuries sustained from her years dancing.
Eventually, Sandra went on to school at MassArt, where after switching majors a few times, settled into the sculpture program. After graduating, she immediately started school at Kripalu, where she became a certified yoga instructor and certified in Lotus Palm Thai Massage. While beginning to teach yoga and practice as a Thai Massage therapist, she then went on to the Bancroft School of Massage Therapy, where she became a licensed massage therapist.
Sandra now owns her own practice, while still teaching yoga at several studios, where she performs massage and Myofascial Release, which is a practice used to help release anything our Myofasical system might be holding in that is negatively affecting us. She is so pleased to be able to do this work in the area she was raised in because she wants to be able to help others in the ways that her practices have helped her.
Faces Of New Bedford #178: Kevin Rose
Meet Kevin Rose Jr, 35-year-old owner of Kaisan Trucking and Unplugged Float Essentials. Kevin grew up playing saxophone for the entirety of his childhood and teenage years. After graduating from New Bedford High School, he attended the Berklee School of Music for a few years before leaving college early, to help his family run a moving business.
While working for his family’s company, he kindled his passion for Mixed Martial Arts by joining SBG East Coast in Wareham, where he began specializing in Muay Thai Kickboxing and Jiu-Jitsu. Kevin soon realized that he wanted to start his own trucking company and created Kaisan Trucking in 2015. He was also now coaching students at SBG, while trying to get his trucking company started.
If all of that wasn’t enough, Kevin decided he wanted to venture in the “sensory-deprivation float tank” business. After experiencing float therapy in 2013, a form of repair and destress from his busy lifestyle, he knew that it was something that needed a home in the Southcoast, as the closest center is in Boston. After going through the Southcoast EForAll course, he was able to gain branding and marketing knowledge, helping him launch the first phase of his company called Unplugged Float Essentials, which is a line of Epson-based salt baths, infused with essential oils and water-soluble hemp, which help the body recover when soaking in it. He is passionate about owning small businesses in the city, as his family has tons of history here and he hopes to be able to add to their lasting legacy.
Faces Of New Bedford #179: Maciel Pai
Meet Maciel Pais, 37-year-old teacher at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School. Growing up and attending GNBVT High School, he never knew that he would end up back there teaching. During his junior year at the school, he was offered a position teaching potential incoming students during the school’s annual exploratory program.
After graduating from GNBVT, he went on to get his bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Systems from New England Institute of Technology, all while working at the high school in their technology department and teaching in the adult education program. In his final year of college, a teaching position was posted and he then applied for the position teaching in the shop he graduated from.
Since then, Maciel has dedicated his life to his students and the school, hoping to make a lasting impact on each of the students he encounters. Along this road, he has gained his Master’s degree in Education Leadership and Management, as well as a slew of other certifications, in hopes to be able to serve students in a greater capacity than he is now.
Maciel is also the schools Business Professionals of America Chapter Advisor and has helped students in the club foster a sense of professionalism and work ethic, that will last well beyond their time at the school.
Faces Of New Bedford #180: Megan Abdullahi
Meet Megan Abdullahi, 35-year-old center manager at CleanSlate. Megan grew up on Cape Cod and after schooling immediately went into work in human services, as it has always been in her nature to help. She started working at group homes and after some time, she started managing them.
Megan moved to New Bedford and instantly fell in love with everything it has to offer, from the culture to the history. When she saw an open position for the Center Manager position at CleanSlate, a medication-assisted outpatient facility for those suffering from substance abuse issues, she knew she wanted to make a change in her career. Having dealt with family members who have had issues with drugs and alcohol, she knew that it was a position that would be more than a job.
Since her start at CleanSlate, she has heavily involved herself in the fight against opioids in the city. Although CleanSlate offers alternatives for those addicted, such as Suboxone and Vivitrol, her job doesn’t stop there. She and her staff work with their clients to get them to a life free of drugs, offering counseling services and connecting them to services that also assist. Along with her position at CleanSlate, she is also a member of the New Bedford Opioid Task Force, joining with other members of the community, comprised of police officers, social workers, and religious leaders, who make home visits to recent victims of drug overdoses in an attempt to get them on the path to recovery.
Faces Of New Bedford #181: Debra Kelsey
Meet Debra Kelsey, 51-year-old Community Health Worker and Recovery coach at Fishing Partnership Services. Deb, who was born and raised in New Bedford, has always been involved in the fishing community.
After spending 20 years in the printing industry, she started looking for a position that she felt she would make more of an impact in. That is when she found the job opening for at the Fishing Partnership Services. Fishing Partnership Services specializes in assisting the local fisherman by providing services such as safety training and assisting in purchasing their health insurance.
She has invested so much into the fishing community, understanding all of the issues and troubles fishermen face. Debra is so determined to help advocate for the fishermen and provide an outlet for those seeking help with substance abuse issues. With the type of work fishermen do, it’s easier for them to get badly injured and prescribed opioids to help their pain. This often ends in addiction, but Debra has been there as a recovery coach stepping in and helping them clean up their problems.
Faces Of New Bedford #182: Sorrell Macaroco
Meet Sorrell Macaroco, 27-year-old instructor and owner at Stagelights Studio. Sorrell has been dancing since she was 5, which started as a way to correct her inward facing toes, as ballet is known to help that condition. Dance soon became a huge part of her life, as she was a natural and became an escape for her.
Sorrell competed throughout her childhood and began teaching at the age of 16. When she went away for college though, she focused on school and only danced on the school team. During her final year at Bridgewater, she realized that she only wanted to be a dance instructor, but in her own studio.
At the age of 25, she put together her business plan and opened Stagelight Studio in the city’s west end. She is passionate about teaching in New Bedford, as she wants to create an outlet for the youth, like those before her, sharing and spreading the passion she has for dancing. Since opening, she has been able to bring her team to regional competitions, winning several awards, even one recognizing her for creative choreography.
Faces Of New Bedford #183: Chris Andrade
Meet Chris Andrade, 32-year-old Program Supervisor at the Key Program, Inc. As a lifelong native of New Bedford, he recalls facing adversity as a youth being raised in public housing and coming from an immigrant family. Despite these challenges, Chris was thankful to have a strong supportive family who invested in his future and guided him away from the negative influences within his neighborhood.
In high school, he interned for PAACA as a peer mentor, working with troubled youth in efforts to engage them in positive outlets. After high school, Chris went away to UMass Amherst focusing on Legal Studies with hopes to eventually go on to Law school. Each summer, Chris returned home to work for the Greater New Bedford Youth Annex (New Directions) through the Career Center, assisting youth with attaining summer employment. After attaining his Bachelor’s Degree, he found that his passion lies within Human Services and opted out of pursuing Law school.
Chris continued his path in servicing others by obtaining a position as an Outreach Worker for a non-profit agency named the Key Program, Inc. where he worked to assist at-risk youth and families involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). From there, he worked his way up to the position of Program Supervisor and now oversees several community-based programs that focus on the development of positive life skills and experiences for youth and families so they may lead productive and rewarding lives. Even at the supervisory level, Chris has continued to carry a caseload of his own because he is passionate about helping others and creating a positive impact on the community.
Faces Of New Bedford #184: Marcio Silva
Meet Marcio Silva, 45-year-old Owner and Head Instructor at Xcel Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. His father was a professional soccer player when he was young, so his family traveled alot but settled in New Bedford when he was 6. Throughout his childhood, he practiced Judo which led to him becoming high interested in staying active.
This interest led Marcio to the sport of cycling, which he ended up pursuing until the age of 21, even landing himself a spot on the Junior Olympic cycling team. He began working for his father’s construction company and not soon after his retirement from cycling, he started competing in professional paintball across the world for team Planet Eclipse. He also opened Eastside Paintball, which sold and serviced paintball equipment in several locations throughout the Southcoast.
After getting his son enrolled in Jui Jitsui classes, he decided to also start practicing the art as well. Quickly moving up the ranks, Marcio received his black belt in 5 years, a process that normally takes 10-15 years. By this point, Marcio had opened Xcel in New Bedford, as there were no high-level Jiu Jitsu schools in our area. Marcio has since won 2 world championships and even built a new build to house his growing school.
Faces Of New Bedford #185: Marc Cordeira
Meet Marc Cordeira, a 42-year-old consultant and owner of Kraken Golf. Throughout his childhood, Marc was always creating something and involved in sports, mostly basketball. It wasn’t until after high school that he found golf, and immediately fell in love with the sport, play with friends at local courses.
Marc attained his bachelors in Computer Science and an MBA, which helped him get into the field of online marketing and e-commerce. With the vast amount of knowledge he has gained over the years, it was easy for him to create his brand, Kraken Golf. Having gotten into CNC machining in 2013, he quickly realized he could take his passion for golf to another level.
For many years, the sport has found itself to cater to a certain audience and Marc felt that golf was becoming less appealing to the newer generation. This is where Kraken golf was born, creating unique and cool ball markers, divot tools, and putters, appealing to a younger, more trendier generation. With only one year in business, he has been able to create a vast following and client base and hopes to continue to bring his two passions together to revitalize the sport of golf.
Faces Of New Bedford #186: Jose Carrion
Meet Jose Carrion, 44-year-old owner of Casual Entertainment and Travel Consultant. Jose grew up in the Bronx, New York, where he became involved in the music business at an early age. As an artist in the group Lethal Package, he produced a few albums and even toured up and down the East Coast.
As members of the group started getting older and focusing on other things, Jose relocated to New Bedford, where he immediately got to work. He began promoting local venues and started working with local acts, helping them get spots working for big-name acts. It was during this time that he made connections in Providence.
He is now a manager at a few Providence venues, such as The Strand, Studio Lounge, and Rosendale, where he manages tickets and VIP sales. He also works with World Ventures, helping others to be able to go on vacations within their budget. Jose runs Casual Entertainment as well, where he works with vendors and clients to provide staffing for restaurants and nightclubs, as well as wedding DJs and photographers.
Faces Of New Bedford #187: Samie-Jo Prata
Meet Samie-Jo Prata, 28-year-old hairdresser. Growing up, Samie spent lots of time in salons, as her mother was a nail technician. This got her interested in the field of hairdressing and cosmetology but was advised against it from her parents, who felt she would make a better living if she went to college and got her degree.
After high school, Samie started her classes at Bristol Community College, but after a year, had to take time off due to the birth of her daughter. Samie began working, rather than returning to school and after being laid off from the grocery store she was working for, she knew she needed a change. She went to her parents and told them that she was going to pursue her desire to go to hairdressing school and enrolled in Toni & Guy.
Samie-Jo started working for Wash House in Fairhaven shortly after graduating from school and hasn’t looked back. She loves that not only does she work to make others feel beautiful, but has built a bond with her clients over the years, also being a shoulder for them to lean on when they are having an off day and come sit in her chair. Her time at the Wash House helped her find her way as a hairdresser, strengthening her and preparing her for her most recent venture. Samie is a renter at Beauty Union Salon in New Bedford, where although she is at the salon, works for herself. She loves that she gets to work in Downtown New Bedford, as it has been such an important location for her throughout her life.
Faces Of New Bedford #188: Henry Bousquet
Meet Henry Bousquet, 42-year-old Lead Instructor of the Culinary Arts Program at Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech. Growing up, Henry’s mother suffered from Multiple Sclerosis, which put him in a position to help her around the kitchen, learning to cook from a very young age. When his mother passed away at the age of 10, Henry began to cook for his entire family, helping his father before he would get home before work.
It was only natural that Henry went to Greater New Bedford Voc-Tech School, where he studied in the Culinary Arts program. By his sophomore year, he was working at least 30 hours in local restaurants and worked full-time in kitchens upon graduation. Along with his work in various restaurants, he also attended BCC where he got his associates in communication. He was then enrolled in Bridgewater State, where he became a student in the Disney program and moved to Orlando where he cooked for a year.
After a year at Disney, he moved back home to take care of his sick grandparents. Moving back, he spoke with the late Chef Amaral, who pushed him to start substitute teaching in the culinary department. This turned into a full-time position for him once he was able to obtain his teaching certifications. He would eventually apply for and receive the job of Lead Instructor.
Alongside his work at New Bedford Voc-Tech, Henry has also worked tremendously in the Community. He was elected as a city councilman in 2011 for Ward 3 and held that position for 5 years. Due to an obscure state law, Henry wasn’t compensated for his work the last two and half years he was a councilman but continued to serve the people of New Bedford.
Faces Of New Bedford #189: Lana Collins
Meet Lana Collins, 21-year-old Student and Case Manager. Growing up, Lana witnessed those suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues within her family and this gave her the drive to help others.
After graduating from high school, Lana began studying at Rhode Island college, bouncing between different majors. It was during her sophomore year when she got a job working with individuals who had developmental disabilities. It was this line of work that made her declare herself as a psych major, focusing in on social work.
Since then, Lana has accepted a position as a Case Manager with Newport Mental health and is en route to graduate with her Bachelor’s Degree this Spring. Beyond her time at Rhode Island College, her hope is to continue to pursue her education and eventually obtain her Ph.D., so that she can open her own practice in the city. Her hope would be to help those families suffering due to addiction and mental health issues.
Faces Of New Bedford #190: John Masella
Meet John Masella, 38-year-old Attorney. John grew up in upstate New York and knew that he wanted to work in the justice system from a young age. After attending the State University of New York – Plattsburgh, he decided to attend Southern New England School of Law, now Umass Law school. While attending the school, John fell in love with New Bedford, as it was so diverse and rich with culture.
After graduating and taking his bar exam, he returned to New York, practicing law for a short while. Missing his time in New Bedford, he decided to pack all of his things into his car and headed back to the city he had fallen in love with, in hopes to use his newfound career to benefit the community. He quickly met Gerline Lowe, a prominent figure in the local justice system, and she got him introduced to the local court. John’s practice started in the hopes of helping the neediest of people. Working to help provide justice to those who didn’t have the means, John made it his mission to help provide legal counsel for those who would have otherwise not had a chance.
Since coming back to the system almost 10 years ago, he has done many things to benefit the community. He is a Drug Court Attorney, working with those involved in the Drug Court in their journey towards rehabilitation. John is also a member of the US Supreme court as well as the US First Circuit courts. John hopes to continue to serve the city and the Commonwealth, ensuring that justice is being upheld and preserved, for every group of people.
Faces Of New Bedford #191: Angalee Contreras
Meet Angelee Contreras, 33-year-old owner of Privy Boutique. Angelee grew up as a first generation citizen, with her father coming from Spain and her mom from Puerto Rico. Her parents always worked hard to provide for their children and taught them the importance of hard work ethics. This push Angelee to do well in school, and after high school, she went on to study Sports & Entertainment Management in Miami at Johnson and Wales University.
During her Christmas break that year her life was turned upside down, with the passing of her father. He had worked hard enough to help her through college, but with him gone, Angelee went back to school and took on 3 jobs to pay for all of her expenses, using the passing of her father to motivate her to give it her all. She finished up her Bachelor’s degree and moved back to be closer with family as she continued toward her Master’s Degree in Hospitality Sales and Marketing. Being involved in retail since the age of 16, after graduating she went on to work for companies like MadRag, Lacoste, and Wet Seal, where she held manager and director positions.
After having her children, she knew she couldn’t keep traveling so far for work and wanted to curate and sell fashion that she was passionate about. This drove her to leave her position with MadRags in 2017 to open Boutique Privy, a local shop focused on street contemporary fashion. She shops for the best quality material, which although carry a high price tag, ensure she’s selling quality apparel to her clients. Since opening, she has extended her lines to include men’s apparel but her major focus is empowering women. As a woman business owner, her hope is to inspire other women to chase their dreams and spread a message of positivity and love.
Faces Of New Bedford #192: Heather Dextradeur
Meet Heather Dextradeur, 45-year-old Assistant Director at Lifestream and Bridges-To-Faith Coordinator with Better Community Living. Heather psplgot involved with working with the developmentally disabled community when she was 24-years-old, as a student at BCC.
Starting in direct care with Lifestream, she fell in love with her work and has never looked back. She would eventually move on to manage the home she was working in. When she took the position she thought that she would spend her time teaching life skills and things like that, but she has realized how much she has learned from them.
No only does she spend her days working to impact the lives of those developmentally disabled, but she goes home to foster 3 adults who need live-in assistance. She also works with Bridges-to-Faith to help those with mental disabilities to build and foster relationships, no matter the religion they decide to seek.
Faces Of New Bedford #193: Monica Melo
Meet Monica Melo, 33-year-old owner and hairstylist of Salon Gigi. Monica was born in Portugal and moved to New Bedford with her parents when she was one. Growing up, she always had a passion for making people look and feel good.
When it came time for college, with the push from her parents, she attended Bristol Community College, although she knew that she didn’t want to go to college. After a year of school, she dropped out and enrolled in LaBaron Hair Dressing school, where she knew she could pursue her passion. After graduating, she worked for a few years in a handful of salons before taking time off to be home with her newborn children.
Once her children were a little older, she knew she wanted to return to hairdressing but didn’t want to work for someone else. It was in 2014 that she open Salon Gigi, where she has been ever since. For her, it’s not about just doing her clients hair, but building a relationship with them and empowering them to be confident and love themselves.
Faces Of New Bedford #194: Bridgitte Cook
Meet Bridgitte Cook, 46-year-old Heath Center Director at SSTAR Family Healthcare Center. Growing up, Bridgette’s life had been impacted by the effects of mental illness, with her mother committing suicide when she was 8 years old and a father who suffered from schizophrenia.
After graduating from high school, Bridgitte applied to the Diman School of Practical Nursing, as she knew she wanted to help those suffering from mental illness. Upon her completion, she began working at the Dartmouth House of Corrections, where she really saw how many people in prison were struggling with mental health issues and drug addiction, but ended up there because it was the only place for them.
Bridgitte also spent time working at Bridgewater State Correctional Facility as well, which pushed her to go back to school for her RN, so she could really help to service this demographic she held so dearly to her. She received her Associates Degree from Bristol Community College and Bachelor’s Degree from Curry College. Not shortly after, she took on the role of assistant clinic manager with SSTAR, where they focus on not only treating the patient’s mental state but providing a plethora of resources for them.
Bridgitte will be completing her Masters Nursing program this May and hopes to continue to be able to service the community, by empowering and helping those who suffer from mental illness and drug addiction.
Faces Of New Bedford #195: Djecy Ramos
Meet Djecy Ramos, 37-year-old Sales Representative, and Photographer. Djecy was born in Cape Verde and didn’t move to the United States until he finished high school. While in Cape Verde, he picked up photography when his friends started a band, knowing he wanted to find a way to still be involved in the music scene. His time with photography was short, as he gave it up to pursue college in the United States.
Djecy spent a few years studying Philosophy at Middlesex County College in New Jersey before he knew he wasn’t passionate about it and left college to work. Packing all of his things into his car, he and his girlfriend moved out to New Bedford, where he instantly fell in love with the city and the history the Cape Verdean culture had here.
Shortly after his arrival in New Bedford in 2009, he began working in cell phone sales. He was also reintroduced to his love for photography around the same time, buying his first digital camera shortly after in 2012. Djecy’s passion lies in portraiture, so he specializes in wedding and portrait work, which is how he has been able to grow his business over the last few years. He also gives back with his love for photography, volunteering with Criolas Contra Cancer (Creoles Against Cancer) as a photographer for their yearly events.
Faces Of New Bedford #196: James Perry
Meet James Perry, 31-year-old Program Retention Counselor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. James grew up in New Bedford and when he was in high school, he wasn’t sure he would ever attend university. He had a 2.2 GPA and because he was a quiet student, he never spoke up when he didn’t understand something and suffered alone as many students do.
After being introduced to the College Now Program, which focuses on helping first-generation and low-income students enroll in college, he was enrolled at Umass Dartmouth. For the first time he was excelling in school but due to unfortunate financial circumstances, he was forced to take time off from school.
James didn’t let this defeat him though, as he immediately started volunteering with Child and Family Services, which led to a full-time position as a therapeutic mentor. Soon after, he was enrolled at Fisher College, taking online classes toward his Bachelors Degree and then going on to finish his Master’s Degree where his college career began, Umass Dartmouth.
Today, James works for the program that first afforded him an opportunity at higher education, as the Program Retention Counselor for the College Now Program at UMass Dartmouth. His responsibilities include recruiting high school students for the programs, as well as equipping the students in the program with the resources and guidance to make it through their time at school.
Faces Of New Bedford #197: Eric Santos
Meet Eric “Ewreckage” Santos, 19-year-old college student and musical artist. Eric knew from a young age that he wanted to work in the education system, so after graduating from Global Learning Charter Public School, he enrolled in the English/Secondary Education program at Bridgewater State University. He credits GLCPS for providing him an environment where he could express himself creatively, and ultimately spark his musical ambitions.
While studying for his courses and working at the YMCA as a lifeguard, he decided to take his passion for writing and use it to start song writing. Although he was writing songs, he didn’t feel confident enough to sing them, so with inspiration from artists like DJ Khaled and Benny Blanco, he decided to seek out musicians to help him bring his vision to life.
After finding a vocalist from Australia, he produced his first song “Ocean” in September of 2018, which through promotion and social media, was able to chart at #65 on the Turkish iTunes charts. This inspired him to get right back to work and release his first EP “Saudade” earlier this March. He chose the name “Saudade” as a tribute towards his Portuguese ancestry, and because it’s meaning reflects a theme of the EP. “Saudade” has since accumulated over 25,000 streams on Spotify, and his Instagram account has grown to 11,000 followers. He hopes to continue growing and developing as an artist, eventually performing in the future, as well as continuing on his path to become an English teacher.
Faces Of New Bedford #198: Carlos Chamorro
After arriving in the city, he began working at The Landing Gift Shop located in New Bedford’s Historical District and immediately fell in love with the city. Carlos worked as a seamster. He later developed a fondness for the arts and decided he wanted to become part of the community. He suggested to the owner to design shirts for all the different type of customers that came in. Through lots of trial and error, Carlos was able to teach himself the software allowing him to collaborate with the tourists and fishermen solidified relationships.
Carlos shares the great history of New Bedford to all the tourists that come from all over the world. He also works to provide fishermen with gear and clothing from Maine down to Virginia.
Faces Of New Bedford #199: Ron Dauplaise
Meet Ron Dauplaise, 31-year-old Welder, Custom Fabricator and creator of the ShredyRack. Like most teens, Ron was unsure of what he wanted to do after high school until he started working at his father’s welding shop. After a few years of work with his father at Precision Welding, he knew he loved fabricating and creating.
After graduating from New Bedford High School, he continued on to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to study Marketing, in the hopes of helping develop his father’s company further. During his time at Umass, he was able to attain the knowledge he used to develop the companies websites, which tremendously helped grow the business.
Ron has always been an extreme sports enthusiast, frequently traveling to Vermont and New Hampshire for snowboarding and kayaking trips with his friends. During one trip, he became tired of cramming his friends and their gear into his Impreza and started thinking of ways he could free up space. Using the abilities he had learned in all of his time welding, he began work on his very first ShredyRack, a roof-mounted system that can hold not only your skis, snowboards, bikes, and boats but also your packs and bags, freeing up space in your vehicle.
After a year of testing and tweaking, he had a product he was comfortable with. After hearing about Southcoast EForAll from its Executive Director, Jeremiah Hernandez, he enrolled in order to solidify a game plan for his company. He hopes to be able to work with social media influencers to grow his customer base and start shipping orders for ShredyRack this upcoming season.
Faces Of New Bedford #200: Dylan Fagundes
Meet Dylan Fagundes, 26-year-old Project Manager at DeMello International Center and owner of Fagundes Realty LLC. Dylan always found himself to be entrepreneurial, saving his allowance in high school to buy equipment to preform odd jobs to be able to landscape, roof, tile, and make general repairs for anyone looking for a one stop shop of services. One of his clients, James DeMello, saw his drive and hired him to help maintain properties other than his home.
Over the years, this relationship grew and led to more opportunities for Dylan. As a student in the UMass Dartmouth Business program, he started obtaining the tools to be able to expand his growing network of clients and jobs. While at Umass, he began taking on more properties to maintain, while continuing to work with Mr. DeMello.
In 2016, after Mr. DeMello purchased the now DeMello International Center, he appointed Dylan as the Project Manager. Randy, along with his superior, wanted to see center become a hub for the Southcoast and worked to bring the occupancy up from 9% to fully occupied. Dylan oversees the security team at the center, as well as working with vendors, tenants, and local businesses to host job fairs and chamber events.
Not only is Dylan busy helping run the downtown hub, but also manages multiple residential properties throughout the city, including one of his own through Fagundes Really LLC. Dylan is currently working toward obtaining his Realtors license, in hopes to offer his clients the ability to also assist them in buying and selling their properties.
Faces of New Bedford is a project by Colton Simmons. If you are interested in booking a shoot or getting prints from the series email all inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Colton on Instagram: https://instagram.com/simmonscolton
Read more of the Faces of New Bedford series here.