Melanie and Fiona Figueiredo
Fiona was born in Kampala, Uganda and is of Goan origin.
She married the late Ivo Figueiredo (ex-Nairobi), immigrated
to Boston, USA and has two daughters. Ivo died in 1997.
As a single parent, Fiona put her younger daughter Melanie,
through school and college. She worked full-time to recruit
graduate international students in her role as Assistant
Director for Admissions and Recruitment at Brandeis University.
Her oldest daughter, Arlene used to take home-made zucchini
bread and carrot muffins to the homeless in Harvard Square,
which is the bastion of higher learning and where million
dollar homes abound.
She writes, “Only some of the homeless are mentally
or emotionally damaged, yet the temporarily homeless are
treated as mindless, hopeless or helpless, even though they
have just had a run of bad luck or other unfortunate circumstances.
A caring and compassionate heart helps them to know that
there is hope and love and that is what our ministry tries
She would like to promote the use of the internet locally
to organize it as a tool for social justice to help the
homeless find that kind of high-tech hope at libraries that
offer free Internet access. They can learn basic skills
like maths, use e-mail to reach out to lost relatives and
apply for college. You can contact Fiona at firstname.lastname@example.org
February 19, 2004
daughter, like mom: Coalition volunteer honored with first
Melissa Beecher / Tribune Staff Writer
Waltham Homeless Coalition awarded Fiona Figueiredo, right,
with its first service award for her work feed the area's
WALTHAM -- Fiona
Figueiredo's crusade to help the homeless all started with
The now-retired Brandeis University recruiter said she started
to reach out to the homeless four years ago when her daughter,
who worked with inner-city school children as part of the
City Year program, wanted to make a difference.
"Four years ago, when my daughter, Melanie, was working
for $1.50 an hour at City Year, she would tell me about
the broken hearts of the children she encountered. It gave
her knots in her stomach to see some of the anguish on these
children's faces," said Figueiredo.
The mother-daughter team approached Starbucks and asked
the company to donate day-old baked goods to children at
"You saw that giving them food took some of the pain
away," said Figueiredo.
Figueiredo then decided to continue providing food to other
shelters and organizations in the Waltham area. The native
of Goa, Africa, teamed up with Sister Teresia Tinanisolo
of the Marist Mission Sisters of Waltham to take her charity
work to the next level.
Gathering and providing food, blankets and clothing to local
shelters in Waltham, Watertown, Brockton and Boston, Figueiredo
was soon recognized by those she helped as a kind face who
was genuinely concerned about their well-being.
The Waltham Homeless Coalition learned of her work through
representatives of the Middlesex Human Service Agency and
decided to honor the former Waltham resident. Figueiredo
now lives in Lexington.
"People at the shelters would say that she deserved
to be recognized, and so that's what we did," said
Sgt. Bob Scarpone, member of the coalition.
Yesterday, Figueiredo was presented with the Waltham coalition's
first community service award.
Sen. Susan Fargo, D-Lincoln, and all other members of the
coalition were on hand to present the award and commend
Figueiredo for her service.
"People would see Sister Teresia and I loading food
into our car at the Victory Supermarket and ask if the sisters
were throwing a party," said Figueiredo. "When
we told them what we were doing -- helping the homeless
-- people are usually touched and ask what they can do to
Besides donating her own time, Figueiredo has also managed
to recruit others to help her gather donations and bring
them to shelters. Currently 16 people work alongside Figueiredo
Figueiredo hopes, in the future, she will be able to raise
money for homeless families, so she could provide security
deposits for low-income housing.
"I think that it is important for Waltham to not be
known as a magnet for homeless, but for a city that fights
for social justice," she said. "As a society we
are only as strong as our weakest member, and I am hoping
to help those people."
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