Giraida Perez Gutierrez
My name is Giraida Perez Gutierrez and I am a Dominican – American woman born in Bronx, NY. I come from an immigrant family that migrated to the United States in the late 60’s. I became a part of the Lawrence community in 1988 when I moved to Massachusetts from New York. Since then, I have grown into a hard working wife and mother of two beautiful children.
For the past 20 years I have specialized in customer service for several agencies and organizations. I pride myself on my ability to serve and understand people from all walks of life. I have also been a coach for the Mount Vernon South Lawrence West Baseball League for about 10 years. I am currently a certified Medical Interpreter and a student at Northern Essex Community College, working to further my education and career.
In the year 2000, I became involved with Hope Street Youth Center when one of my siblings became a member. I remained involved with the program throughout the years as a family support and volunteer. My family and I have been a part of the Lawrence CommunityWorks family since their merger with Hope Street in 2002. With my son as a current member of Movement City Youth Center, I am proud to say that LCW continues to support my family throughout the generations. We have watched the organization develop and mobilize the city of Lawrence beyond serving just our youth. I am extremely excited and humbled to be considered for the board of such an amazing organization.
Jim Barnes encountered LCW for the first time in 2002 when he represented the U. S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development at the celebration for the completion and occupancy of one of the Summer Street homes. The energy of the staff and joy of the new homeowner left a lasting impression, and he is proud to note there is a news photo of that event hanging in the LCW kitchen. Fast-forward 6 years, and Jim was the new Community Development Director for the City of Lawrence. From 2009 to 2012 Jim worked tirelessly with the LCW development team on the very complex Union Crossing Phase One development. Jim brings his experience in public administration and grants management to the LCW board after 36 years at HUD and 8 years with the City of Lawrence. Jim started his HUD career in the Milwaukee office and held leadership positions in Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston. Jim started his housing career as a VISTA Volunteer in a housing counseling agency on the north side of Milwaukee in 1969. He is a graduate of Middlebury College in Vermont, and he received his MBA from De Paul University in Chicago.
I was born in La Isabella, Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic in 1953. At an early age I knew I wanted to work with people. I studied education and psychology at the local University and began working as a teacher in the late 1970’s. Shortly after being married in 1977 I became pregnant with my daughter Cesarina and was unable to finish my degree. In 1982 I immigrated to the United States. When I moved I did not know any English and moved to a country and a city where I did not know anyone besides my husband’s brothers. We lived in a small apartment in Lawrence and life was difficult during this time because I could not communicate with anyone.
After a few years I decided that I needed to do more for myself and my family. I began taking English class at NECC and soon was able to find a job as a housekeeper with a big company and through hard work I eventually became manager to a team of people. Life was hard and often had to have more than one job just to get by. In 1983 my son Leuvis was born and I knew that I had to work very hard to take care of my children. Working allowed me the opportunity to meet new people and make friends.
From the beginning I knew that in order to succeed my children needed to have a good education, I instilled in them the idea that through hard work and effort all things are possible. I also taught them to love, respect and help those in need in our community both in the United States and in the Dominican Republic.
Soon after my children graduated college I was no longer able to work and felt bored with life. In 2010 I participated in a program offered by LCW. I saw people who were like me when I first arrived they were; new to this city, with no knowledge of English and in need of guidance and social support. I felt as though I had so much to offer my community and this was my opportunity to fulfill my lifelong dream to do social work and help my community.
Volunteering at LCW brings me such joy and has given me a purpose. I am now a full time student at NECC studying English and on the road to becoming a councilor. LCW has offered me the opportunity to connect with my community and taught me how to be an active member of my community that can promote change and make Lawrence a better city. But also, has allowed be to be a link in the chain of a network of people helping other people. I am very grateful for the opportunity to help people in my community through all of the good work that LCW does.
I was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. I am the second of four siblings. I moved to MA when I finished my high school in D.R. A short time later I had my oldest son Danny. I went to Cosmetology School at Lowell Hairstyling Academy and graduated in 1992. I worked for a few years as a hairdresser and had my second son Michael. I needed a stable income, a job with benefits to support my two boys because I was a single mother at this point. I found a job at a nursing home as a kitchen aide and later became housekeeper. This job gave me the stability I needed to return to school. In 1998 I graduated from NECC with a LPN degree. Years later I did my Associates in Nursing and my BSN. I was a critical care nurse until 2012 when a work related injured made me change my career path.
I serve on the Board of LCW because I believe that with the right resources, motivation and persistence every Lawrence resident will have the opportunity to succeed and exceed his/her expectations. With the opportunity to represent my community I strive to be their voices and fight in their favor. My new career as a financial professional gave me the opportunity to help many families in the Merrimack Valley Area by protecting their assets and planning for their future.