The Charitable Irish Society presented Silver Key awards to Paul Doyle, an Irish community activist and a volunteer champion of the St. Vincent DePaul Society and other nonprofit organizations, and to Linda Dorcena Forry, a former state senator who is now an executive with Suffolk Construction, at its annual Awards Reception at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel on Oct. 4.
The Society was formed in Boston in 1737 to “cultivate a spirit of unity and harmony among all resident Irish and their descendants in the Massachusetts Colony and to advocate socially and morally the interests of the Irish people and their cultural heritage.”
After he was presented with his Silver Key, Mr. Doyle, a New Haven native who with his wife Margo raised their family in Weymouth, congratulated his co-honoree, Sen. Forry, saluted his wife and family and friends, then offered a few remarks, excerpts from which follow:
“I would like to cite several examples of where the Society of St. Vincent DePaul (SVdP), with financial assistance from the Charitable Irish Society (CIS) were able to make positive differences in the lives of others less fortunate.
“There is a family consisting of a mother, father, and six children under the age of 17. The father became a naturalized citizen several years ago. The children were all born here, making them US citizens. The mother was brought here on a visa from the Philippines to work as a nanny. The people moved out west, leaving her with an expired visa and the fear of deportation. Fortunately, we were able to provide her with legal assistance through the efforts of Tony Marino of the Irish International Immigrant Center, who forwarded her paperwork to Fragoman Law Offices, who took on her case pro bono. We covered all the costs of filing fees, transportation, and a physical, which eventually led to her receiving a green card, which was her key to opening the door to opportunities, including driving lessons and a full-time job.
“Another family is an Egyptian father and mother with a three-year-old daughter, who was born here. The father became a citizen several years ago after fleeing Egypt with his wife because of religious persecution. These people are Coptic Christians, living in a country which is 90 percent Muslim. We helped the mother with obtaining a green card, helped her to get a job, and now she is working at QCAP’s Head Start Program in Quincy, and on her way to receiving her designation as a Child Development Associate. We are paying for her books and tuition and other incremental costs.
“A third family we helped was that of an immigrant single mother from Brazil with three children, two with learning disabilities. The mother had a job 1.5 miles from her home to where she worked every day. She had to depend on The Ride for various doctor appointments and shopping. We encouraged this woman to take driving lessons (she was terrified), and she eventually received her license. We then gave her a key—a key to a reliable used car, which to this day she is still driving both to work and appointments.
“These are just several examples of the work we do. … Looking out over this fine gathering, I would guess that most here are immigrants, children of immigrants, or grandchildren of immigrants, many of whom arrived mostly from Western and Eastern Europe in the 1800’s and early-1900’s and were subjected to the harsh reality of not being welcomed. … Eventually, with the help of various groups and organizations, like the AOH and the Charitable Irish Society, these immigrants were able to assimilate into the fabric of American society by getting decent jobs, working hard, raising families, paying taxes, and joining political parties, so they could share the benefits offered in their new home, called America. All they needed was a chance, a helping hand, and the right key to succeed. …
“Today, I believe each one of us holds a key. The question is: How will we use it? Will we use it to lock inside these doors anger, hostility, paranoia, and fear? Or will we use it to help our fellow human beings who are coming to this country in search of a better life for themselves and their families, by unlocking those doors, which are now being slammed in their faces and offering to them what was offered to our immigrant ancestors – the opportunity to better themselves by working hard, raising families, paying taxes, and becoming productive members of our society? I sincerely hope so!
“Let us not forget: We are all immigrants!”