BOSTON — Senate Assistant Majority Leader and Rules Committee Chairman Mark Montigny (D-New Bedford) honored New Bedford native and longtime children’s advocate Bernadette Souza today as a 2018 Unsung Heroine.

Souza received the prestigious award this afternoon during a ceremony held at the State House by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women.

This year marks the 15th annual ceremony where women throughout the Commonwealth are honored for their significant contributions in their respective communities. Montigny nominated Souza for her tireless dedication to children in New Bedford, especially in regards to her work as Executive Director of Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

Prior to her work with Y.O.U., Souza worked for the Greater New Bedford Boys and Girls Club and has served on numerous local boards, including Our Sisters’ School. Souza is a graduate of Assumption College, where she received her Certification in Youth Ministries. Since joining Y.O.U. (formerly Trips for Kids), Souza has expanded programming to include healthy food and cooking programs; urban explorer trips to local parks, beaches and historic places; and adventure trips to regional locations such as Mass Maritime Academy, local farms, and kayaking through the Westport River.

“Bernadette’s unwavering commitment toward creating a vibrant, safe, and fun environment for our kids is instrumental,” said Senator Montigny. “She has introduced these children to local history, nutrition, literacy and healthy lifestyles in such a way that they don’t even realize how much they are learning each and every day they spend at Y.O.U. The cross collaborations with local organizations like SMAST, historical societies and local farms maximizes opportunities and exposes our youth to such a wide and exciting range of future opportunities.”

"Bernadette loves this community and it shows, in everything she does and everywhere she goes. There are so many beneficiaries of her dedication and commitment to The Whaling City, especially our youth, many of whom are flourishing with her guidance, encouragement & support!" said JoAnn Tschaen, founder of Youth Opportunities Unlimited.

--Sen. Montigny's Office