Senator Vin Gopal, D-Monmouth, recognized Long Branch residents for their commitment to the community during the Portuguese Club’s Portuguese Heritage Month Celebration On Friday night.
“It was an honor to recognize these Long Branch residents for their commitment to their community,” Gopal said. “People who give back to their communities make our communities great places for everyone to live and enjoy.”
Some honorees spoke about their experiences growing up in the Portuguese community. “When I first came here 37 years ago the Portuguese Club welcomed my family right away,” Silverio said. “There wasn’t even a first floor then because it was still a mess and not safe, so the second floor was the club.” He spoke about his first teacher who taught him English and Mario Vieira hiring his dad. Silver is now a captain in the Long Branch Police Department.
Justin Braz, Deputy Chief of Staff and Assistant Commissioner for Transportation Policy for NJ Transit, has many titles and accomplishments. He attributed the credit for his success to his grandfather. “He is the reason I’m here today. And while it’s an honor to be recognized by the Senator and by this club, it’s not a recognition for me but for what my grandfather taught me.” He said that his grandfather taught him about hard work, perseverance, humility and most of all to be a member of a community and to care for one another. “It’s something I’ve always found in the Portuguese Club,” he said.
Senator Vin Gopal serves as Senate Majority Conference Leader and Chair of the Senate Education Committee. Elected in 2018, a lifelong resident of Monmouth County, Senator Gopal represents residents of Asbury Park, Allenhurst, Colts Neck, Deal, Eatontown, Freehold, Freehold Township, Interlaken, Loch Arbor, Long Branch, Neptune City, Neptune Township, Ocean Township, Red Bank, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury, Shrewsbury Township, and West Long Branch in the State Senate.