News

Mar 27, 2015

CITY AND COUNTY OFFICIALS JOIN CENTRO MATER ALUMNI AND SUPPORTERS FOR STREET NAMING DEDICATED TO HISTORIC ORGANIZATION’S FOUNDER

MIAMI (March 2015) — A portion of Miami’s Southwest Fourth Avenue has officially been named “Sister Margarita Miranda-Otero, R.S.C.J. Way” in honor of the late founder of Centro Mater Child Care Services, Inc.— a nonprofit that aids economically disadvantaged families through child care and education.

The well-attended street naming ceremony took place on Thursday, March 19, 2015 at Centro Mater’s main child care center, at 418 SW 4th Ave. The location is near the original site where Miranda-Otero founded the initiative in 1968 as an informal after-school program for children, mostly of newly exiled Cuban families, who would otherwise go home alone.

Participating dignitaries included City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, City of Miami Commissioners Frank Carollo and Francis Suarez, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno A. Barreiro, and Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski.

During the ceremony, Mayor Tomas Regalado shared stories about his experience knowing Miranda-Otero. Commissioner Frank Carollo also addressed the crowd and Commissioner Bruno A. Barreiro presented an official Miami-Dade County Proclamation in honor of the event. Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, who also shared personal anecdotes regarding the Centro Mater founder, offered a blessing, and Gus Vidaurreta, an original Centro Mater alumnus, spoke of his time at the center, which he said he considered his “safe place.”

Following a cheerful performance by the Centro Mater Children’s Choir, attendees gathered at the corner of Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue to unveil the new, bright-green street sign that reads “Sister Margarita Miranda-Otero, R.S.C.J. Way.” Guests also enjoyed live music, light bites and refreshments.

“The street naming event served as a fine celebration of Sister Miranda’s legacy of community commitment,” said Octavio A. Verdeja, Jr., Chairman of the Centro Mater Foundation. “It was a delight to honor her and to now be able to see that street sign and be pleasantly reminded of her vision, which we work so diligently to perpetuate.”

Nearly 50 years ago, Sister Miranda-Otero saw a critical need for child care services among the newly exiled Cuban families in Miami. Her labor of love grew to become Centro Mater Child Care Services, Inc. From its humble beginnings, Centro Mater has grown to have five accredited centers throughout Miami-Dade County, continuing the passionate work of Miranda-Otero. Since its inception in 1968, the organization has assisted more than 50,000 in-need children and their families.

A native of Havana, Cuba, Miranda-Otero worked within the Sacred Heart Schools on the island before finding a new start in South Florida, where she served as an educator for The Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart in Miami. After recognizing a need for local child care services, she began volunteering to assist families living in the Little Havana community surrounding Fourth Avenue and Fourth Street. Each afternoon, Miranda Otero and her volunteers gathered in the shade of a tree outside the Ada Merritt School (660 SW Third St.) to care for neighborhood children. Her informal “after-school program” quickly expanded to the school’s classrooms and soon enough, with a formal name in homage to the Virgin Mary (Mater Admirabilis), Centro Mater was born. She tirelessly enlisted the support of philanthropists, politicians and even fellow exiles, in order to ensure the best quality of care available in Miami for the young children she championed.

 

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