Maria’s Tribute

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By now nearly everyone has heard the news; our friend, our mentor, our shining example, our President… Maria Barros is no longer with us.  After battling cancer for several years, Maria is at rest.
She was here for such a short time… it was just the summer of 2019 when she moved to Cascais from the US and volunteered to help Joia on the Executive Board.  By August she was on the board; Rachel had moved to the US leaving the Vice President position open, and Maria slipped easily into her role.  Within months, Joia’s health failed and Joia was forced to resign; once again, Maria stepped up and took over as President.
Joia had started the ball rolling on a new website and Maria took it on with a vengeance, lining up members who could find a developer, and then shepherding the process until it was complete.  At the same time, she put on her lawyer’s hat and examined our constitution and related documents, determining that they needed to be updated and brought into compliance with Portuguese law.  She found expert counsel, worked with long-standing members to preserve the spirit of the organization, and made that happen.
Jeanine brought Maria an idea about an office in the town center, working with the Junta de Freguesia to provide us a perfect space.  Once again, Maria made it happen.
And then, Covid 19 came to Cascais and IWP had to remake itself.  Excursions, events, activities, luncheons and coffee hours… everything came to a halt.  But Maria found ways to keep people connected, learning how to use Zoom for meetings, making phone calls and keeping the newsletter going, making the new website act as our communications hub.  She found a new website administrator to manage the technical side and enlisted new board members to keep the organization strong.  She was profoundly ill, but she just kept working around her disease, making things happen.
In the second week of December, Maria learned that her treatments were no longer helping to keep her cancer at bay.  It was time to gather her strength for the end.  She finished her IWP work with a fantastic effort, leading us to prepare special Christmas boxes for the women of families receiving food aid from the charitable organization supporting the Freguesia.  On a day when she was completely exhausted, she greeted members with a huge smile and helped pile boxes for delivery.  She was amazing.  She was always amazing.
Maria has left a legacy that will be kept alive.  We will be dedicating the office to her and decorating it with photos and memories of her time with us.  If you have pictures, please send them to us.  If you have stories, please write them up and send them to us.  We will do our best to use them in her honor.

Barbara Schafer

Treasurer of IWP
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