YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City, 2017!

With just four more days left until YUM, we are getting extremely excited for an evening celebrating our immigrant communities and those who work hard for immigrant justice. YUM promotes immigrant-run Somerville restaurants, highlighting contributions of the city's immigrant communities. The YUM 2017 restaurant of the year award will be presented to Sheila Foley from The Neighborhood Restaurant. Additionally, two community members are honored for their incredible work in the community. Below is a sneak peak of the awardees. It’s not too late to buy YUM tickets! Just follow this link.

Alex Pirie has spent over thirty years learning how to listen to Somerville – and still has a long way to go! He got his start pasting up the Somerville Community News (back in the day), trying to get himself on his Ward Democratic Committee, joining the newly formed Progressive Democrats of Somerville, hanging out at the Somerville Museum, listening to the stories of the three retired custodians living on his (pre-gentrification) street and coordinating the Somerville Conversations from 1998 -2003.Alex Pirie has spent over thirty years learning how to listen to Somerville – and still has a long way to go! He got his start pasting up the Somerville Community News (back in the day), trying to get himself on his Ward Democratic Committee, joining the newly formed Progressive Democrats of Somerville, hanging out at the Somerville Museum, listening to the stories of the three retired custodians living on his (pre-gentrification) street and coordinating the Somerville Conversations from 1998 -2003. All of these were entry points, but things really took off one evening out in front of St. Benedict’s in East Somerville when Father John McLaughlin (the first of many McLaughlins!) introduced him to the story of the destruction of the Ursuline Convent by a Protestant mob. This led to a teen project creating a graphic novel retelling the story, , which led to the coordination of a teen conference in the city which, thanks to the new immigrant teens on the steering committee, led to having teen Interpreter Aides at the gathering, and ultimately led to the Liaison Interpreters Project of Somerville (now a very successful program at the Welcome Project). All of this ultimately lay behind the creation of a group where the health needs of our immigrant communities could be discussed, stories told, and, when possible, actions taken, the Immigrant Service Providers Group/Health. Alex is still looking for stories. If you have one, as we say in Somerville, you know where he lives.

Cristina is an advocate, trainer and non-profit consultant, with broad experience in social justice movements, organizing and diversity-and-inclusion. Born in the US and raised in Venezuela, she spent the last decade inspiring others to take social and political action, building coalitions to pass legislations, connecting individuals to opportunities and information and developing leaders that are making communities more welcoming. Cristina Aguilera Sandoval is an advocate, trainer and non-profit consultant, with broad experience in social justice movements, organizing and diversity-and-inclusion. Born in the US and raised in Venezuela, she spent the last decade inspiring others to take social and political action, building coalitions to pass legislations, connecting individuals to opportunities and information and developing leaders that are making communities more welcoming. She currently works as an adviser and consultant with the immigrant integration projects of the Sillerman Center for Philanthropy at Brandeis University, the Endowment for Health and the New Hampshire Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees (NHAIR). She recently co-founded Venezuelan Women in Action to raise international awareness about the political violence Venezuelan women are facing and she manages operations at her husband's immigration and human rights law firm, the Law Offices of Julio Henríquez. Cristina worked for six years at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA) where she advocated for numerous bills, mobilized thousands and rose to become Director of Organizing, while supporting with pro-immigrant advocacy the work of over 130 organizations such as the phenomenal work of The Welcome Project. Before joining MIRA, she worked five years with the labor movement across the United States and abroad. Cristina was an undergraduate at Venezuela’s Universidad de Carabobo and graduated with a Master’s in Public Administration from the LKY School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. Cristina and Julio live in Boston’s Jamaica Plain with their super heroes Marcelo (4) and Amanda (22m).

We hope to see you at this year's YUM: A Taste of Immigrant City. For more information about the other restaurants that will be featured, check out our YUM blog!