Mount Vernon – The Portuguese community gathered at Mount Vernon Portuguese American Club, to celebrate the honoring of Antonio Ferreira as New York Portuguese-American Leadership Conference 2016 Man of the Year, Saturday evening. It is the first time someone from the club in Mount Vernon has received this recognition. Mount Vernon Mayor Richard W. Thomas, members of the City Council and other dignitaries presented proclamations and citations to Ferreira.
Dignitaries in attendance included Congressman Eliot Engel, Mayor Richard W. Thomas, Comptroller Maureen Walker, members of the Mount Vernon City Council – Council President Marcus A. Griffith, Council President Pro Tem J. Yuhanna Edwards, Council Acting President Pro Tem Roberta L. Apuzzo and Councilman André Wallace, Planning Commissioner Shawyn Patterson Howard, County Legislator Lyndon Williams and NYPALC leadership Isabelle Coelho-Marques and Gabriel Marques.
António or “Tony” was born on September 16, 1955 in Águas Santas, Vila-Real, Portugal and is the youngest of three children. At the age of 13, Tony immigrated to France, where he began to learn his first craft and studied carpentry at Bourgoin Jollie. On June 17, 1972, at the age of 16, Mount Vernon welcomed Tony to his new home in America. Tony’s brother and sister continue to reside in France and Tony continues to live and call Mount Vernon his home.
Tony became a member of the Portuguese-American Club (PAC) of Mount Vernon 44 years ago – the same year he arrived in America. At the time, PAC was located at 28 East First Street and is now celebrating its 41st anniversary at its current home. He’s consistently been an active member, and has served in various leadership roles at various times. In 1996, because of his extensive volunteering both of his time and his services to the club, he was awarded an honorary membership, but continues to pay his annual dues despite his honorary status.
Of course, Tony’s community involvement doesn’t stop there either. Tony currently serves as Treasurer of the Academia do Bacalhau de New York, which is an organization that raises funds to help Portuguese-Americans and their descendants in financial need, such as paying rent or their electrical/heating bill.
Tony is a loving father and has instilled his example of civic participation early in his daughter, Sonia Ferreira, who at 5 years of age became a member of PAC Mount Vernon, and his wife, Bertini Correia.
The Portuguese American Club (or “PAC”) was originally founded on August 18, 1935 in the City of Mount Vernon, NY as “Club Português Nova Aurora” or in English, “the New Dawn Portuguese Club” as a common place for Portuguese immigrants to come together as they established themselves in their new home city and country. PAC adopted its current name, Portuguese American Club, on March 18, 1949 and its evolution and growth in Mount Vernon has spanned from 62 West First Street to its current location at 130 East Prospect Avenue since September 13, 1975.
PAC remains dedicated to its early goals and purpose, which is to promote the Portuguese language, culture and traditions, and community service. Through the school Escola Dom Afonso Henriques, young children learn the Portuguese language, culture and history. Some of the richest traditions are rooted in music and food and it’s often shared with the larger community at annual barbecues and picnics. On September 1, 1983, the City of Mount Vernon honored the club by officially naming Temple Place, Portugal Place.
The ceremony was conducted by the young luso-American Janice Duarte, 2015 City Council candidate. “This past Saturday, May 21st, 2016, I was honored to participate in an event at the Mount Vernon Portuguese American Club, in which we honored NYPALC 2016 Man of the Year, Antonio Ferreira and celebrated our culture with some Portuguese folklore dance,” Duarte tells BW. “I’m so grateful for our distinguished guests to share with us this special celebration.”