“The Health Center feels like home. To be able to walk into a place and feel like you belong, where you see yourself represented, I can’t even put into words.”
Alessandra’s warm, steady gaze and poised demeanor make it almost impossible to believe it when she describes herself as a quiet, shy child. What helped her find her voice? A passion for the performing arts.
“On stage I could transform, and that was so freeing,” she recalls. “Expressing myself that way has always been healing to me. It feeds my soul.”
That creative spirit, and the desire to ignite it in others, has fueled her own journey in ways she never would have expected.
Alessandra grew up in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where her parents were the embodiment of hard work. They taught Alessandra and her siblings to follow their hearts, even when it meant taking risks. As a young adult she worked diligently for her parents’ business endeavors, until they took their biggest risk to date: moving to the US.
With mounting economic uncertainty in Brazil, they hoped the move would ensure a brighter future. She felt lucky to have friends and family already living in the US, but in many ways they were starting from scratch. That meant taking whatever jobs they could find, including working long days on an assembly line. There were good days, but many hard ones, too.
“In my family, we were taught that it’s ok to fall, but you get back up and keep going.”
That mantra helped her push through and focus on her future, starting with taking classes at night to improve her English. She didn’t stop there. Next, she went on to get a Bachelor’s degree in English and then a Master’s in Theatre Education, even publishing her own book of original poetry – Lua A Nua (Naked Moon).
She also began connecting with local non-profits, developing innovative arts-integration programming with organizations including Girls Inc., the Freesoil Arts Collective, even the Health Center’s Teen BLOCK Youth Development Program. Later, she developed her own show for LTC, A Hora da Poetisa, where she is also a board member.
“Everyone has a voice, but not everyone has a space where they can use it. I want to change that.”
In 2011 she began to get involved with MAPS (Massachusetts Alliance of Portuguese Speakers), steadily growing her role and responsibilities. Earlier in 2023, she was promoted to Director of Immigrant Integration and Elder Services.
While she had been a patient at Lowell CHC for years, it was through her work at MAPS that she got to know CEO, Susan West Levine. The more she learned about the Health Center’s broader mission and vision, the more she felt drawn to a new role: Lowell CHC board member. In 2019 she enthusiastically answered the call to serve.
“I’m very grateful to be part of the board, to give back to the Health Center. The value Lowell CHC brings to the community is immeasurable.”
We are honored to have community members like Alessandra who bring their tireless creativity, passion, and expertise to our Board – and our entire Health Center community.
What are Stories of HOPE?
Health, first and foremost, because it is our firm belief that everyone should have access to care – regardless of ability to pay. They are also stories of the opportunities that good health provides, the power of people helping people, and experiences that connect us.
It’s our hope that sharing these stories in the coming months will lift the curtain so you can see for yourself how – together – we are building A Just and Healthy Community.