Episode #5 :

Emanuela Palmares

Achieving the American Dream

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As a prominent community leader in Connecticut, Emanuela Palmares is a force to be reckoned with. She is President and Editor-in-Chief of the Tribuna Newspaper, Connecticut’s largest trilingual (English, Spanish and Portugese) Newspaper.

The Birth of the Tribuna

As a descendent of Brazil and a resident of Danbury, Emanuela grew up in a giving family. On Sunday’s, Emanuela, her sister, and her mother would donate their time to members of the community who wanted to learn English as a second language. While they taught English, they also provided people with information they needed to live in Danbury as well as the United States. 

From this act of giving, birthed the formation of the Tribuna Newspaper, a collective efforts of informing Danbury residents of what goes on the community. Today, the Tribuna still holds the same values – helping readers bridge the gap between cultures and connecting them to the community they live in.

Gateway to the American dream

When the Tribuna Newspaper hit the rip age of fifteen, Emanuela’s mother decided to celebrate, so she decided to hold a gala. This gala, called the American Dream Foundation, started out as as a ‘congratulations’ to the newspaper, but later became a thank you to the community in the form of a non-profit organization.

Emanuela’s mother always wanted the Tribuna Newspaper to be inclusive. Coming to the United States as immigrants, Emanuela’s family always put the effort to show that they were part of the community. By speaking Portugese or Spanish, they felt it would regress their culture, and by not having the Tribuna in English wouldn’t include a majority of the community. Emauela’s mother has always had respect for their community. As immigrants, her mentality was always, “We are going to act as Americans, because one day we will be,” and we will “Act like we are part of the community, because one day we will be.” 

This same mentality is what sparks the continuation of the American Dream Foundation. Since it’s inception, Emanuela and her family have always been on the hunt for immigrants in the community who have a story and plan to live large even if they have so little. For those individuals lucky enough to be chosen from The American Dream Foundation, the reward of being a participant is the gateway to making the American Dream happen.

Your Journey Does Not Define Your Worth

The New American Dream Foundation is not just a scholarship award for the community, and the Tribuna Newspaper is not just an outlet for ongoing activity in the community – they are both ways for people to connect to their immigrant experience. As Emanuela puts it, everyone has an immigrant thread story that dates thousands of years back, and the efforts of her family are to put a human perspective on that. Those who are immigrants, give up their entire lives to make the move to America. This is a large undertaking that means going against a country that they love, but one that can’t make their dreams a reality. Making the move to America and having any position in the community does not define someone’s worth – it just means that they have taken the step to a better life for them and their family.

Mission Health Day

The American Dream Foundation is built on three pillars of success: Education, Civic Engagement, and Health. During the award ceremony, a scholarship will be awarded to a student to encourage them to take pride in their immigrant story. A Person of the year award will be received by someone who is valued in the community, and a lifetime achievement award gives an older immigrants in the community a chance to tell their story to the younger generations.

Because of Emanuela’s mother’s health issues and the ongoing issues of receiving medical care in the community, the Foundation also focuses on a health initiative. This initiative includes having proceeds from the gala given to Mission Health Day –  a special event designed to provide community members – uninsured, underinsured, homeless – with essential health screenings, social services, winter clothing and personal care items.

TimeStamps

  • 4:02 – Start of the Tribuna Newspaper 
  • 8:30 – The American Dream Foundation
  • 9:34 – Providing Inspiration to the Immigrant Community
  • 14:38 – Being Raised to be a Community Leader
  •  15:12 – Emanuelas Mother’s Health Issues – a Pillar of the Foundations Values 
  • 20:43 – Mission Health Day in Danbury, CT
  • 26:21 – Being Grateful for Opportunities 

Transcript

00:13 Scott Johnson: Welcome to The Mac Talks everybody. I’m your host, Scott Johnson. This fellow to my right is your co-host, Chase Hutchison.

00:20 Chase Hutchison: Hi, guys, how’s it going?

00:21 SJ: Chase, tell the people what The Mack Talks are.

00:24 CH: The Mac Talks are that vehicle that brings you the stories that you need to hear from business owners, entrepreneurs, and impactful leaders.

00:33 SJ: That’s right, that’s what we are, that is what we do. And today we have a really important guest that we’re super excited to have on the show and into our studio, otherwise known as my office. Chase, why don’t you introduce our guest to the audience?

00:50 CH: Today we have one of the most prominent and articulate voices in our community. She is the editor-in-chief at the Tribuna, Connecticut’s largest trilingual newspaper. She serves as the president of the American Dream Foundation, which strives to highlight the cultural, social, and economic contributions of all immigrants, while supporting the core American values of equal opportunity. She’s a business owner, community leader and philanthropist, a mother, wife and daughter, and a living example of the American dream. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Emanuela Palmares.

01:21 Emanuela Palmares: Wow, what a nice introduction.

01:23 SJ: You like that?

01:23 CH: I thought so, I wrote that myself.

01:24 EP: I like that. I sound like a nice person.

01:26 SJ: Yeah, right?

01:27 EP: Maybe I am. Let’s find out.

01:30 SJ: How are you? How are you doing today?

01:32 EP: I’m doing great.

01:33 SJ: That’s good.

01:33 EP: I’m just back from Brazil, my annual mission trip.

01:37 SJ: You got some good sun, some good vitamin D?

01:39 EP: I got a little bit, it was raining. It was raining, but we go for the second week of December every year for the past five years, and we do a Christmas party for 550 kids at my parents’ village in Brazil.

01:53 SJ: Oh, that’s awesome.

01:53 EP: So that’s what I did last Saturday. And we ended up having 750 children, and 1000 people altogether.

02:00 SJ: That’s amazing. That’s great.

02:00 CH: That sounds like so much fun. Sounds like a big party.

02:03 EP: It was great. It was great. Basically, what we do is we hire a company to take photos and print them on the spot, and then we hire a Santa Claus, we bring a backdrop, and then we hire an inflatables company, and we turn the town gym into an inflatables amusement park, and we give the families a chance to take a free picture with Santa.

02:20 CH: Oh, that’s so cool.

02:20 SJ: That is awesome. That actually leads me to a question that I’ve always kinda wondered, and I’ve heard rumors about the Santa in Brazil, but does he wear regular Santa clothes or is he in the Speedo?

02:30 EP: He wears regular Santa clothes, and he cost quite the number of dollars to hire Santas, because it’s so hot. So, they charge you because it takes a toll on their body for them to wear a full Santa costume under 100-degree weather. So, you have to hire a professional actor that hydrates and knows… Or else they just faint. Usually, in the Santa industry in Brazil, a cheap Santa will faint on you.

03:00 SJ: That is so funny.

03:00 EP: But we come in and we invest, we give them the best experience.

03:02 CH: How much different is it down there? For the holiday spirit, does that exist? Is it different or is it the same?

03:08 EP: Christmas is huge.

03:09 CH: Huge?

03:09 EP: Huge. Brazil is… At one point, it was 95% Catholic. It’s a huge Christian country, so Christmas has always been huge. In the southern part of Brazil, we were talking before we started, it actually snows once or twice a year, and we do have a lot of European influences in the southern part of Brazil, so Christmas looks a lot like the way it looks here, with a lot of lights and a lot of outdoor decorations. And when you get to the hotter parts of the country, you see less external decorations and more just people decorating their homes, because it really doesn’t make sense in the outside. But it’s a pretty big deal and children really believe, and we get to be a part of that experience for them.

03:50 SJ: That’s great. That’s awesome. That’s such a great thing that you guys do, you and your family. Let’s start with how you started and how your family started Tribuna. It started as a kind of… By your family, correct?

04:04 EP: Yeah.

04:04 SJ: By your mom?

04:05 EP: The Tribuna was started by my mom and my sister in 1999, part-time, ’cause they were cleaning houses in the morning and doing the paper in the evening. I joined the Tribuna around my junior year in high school and never left, so I’ve been there for that long. But the Tribuna was really birthed out of another project my mom had where she had me, my sister and my cousins giving free English classes on Sunday at one of her friend’s store front on Main Street. So, he would lend us the space, and we would volunteer our time to teach, basically, my mom’s friends how to speak English, and then we ended up teaching people how to get their Yankee Gas bill set up, or we would teach them where to go to register their kid to school, or where there was a clinic they could go to that was free, and then my mom was like, “People really need… “

04:53 SJ: A resource.

04:54 EP: Yes, like real information, not just like, “This is what happened to so-and-so’s child in Brazil,” or “This guy punched this other guy in the face.” It was more like, they need to know how to live here, and that’s when she had the idea to create the Tribuna. My sister always wanted to go to school for journalism, she ended up going to West Conn for journalism, and in that process, my mom was like, “Why don’t I just create a business to give my oldest an opportunity?”

05:19 SJ: That’s great.

05:19 EP: Yeah, ’cause my sister went to apply for the News-Times, they did not give her a job, and then she was very sad, came back, talked to my mom, and mom was like, “I’m creating a newspaper to give you a job.”

05:29 SJ: Oh, that’s great.

05:30 EP: ‘Cause that’s just what my mom does. And here we are, thankfully, 21 years later.

05:35 SJ: That’s amazing, that’s amazing. And you guys do so many different things for the community as well. Take us through a little bit about the American Dream Foundation and what you guys do with that as well.

05:48 EP: Sure. The Tribuna, we’re a true community newspaper from the beginning, and that’s why my mom was very adamant about the Tribuna always starting to also have the English language. Even being an ethnic newspaper, we wanted to show by example that we were a part of a much larger community, and we thought that that was holding back the immigrant community was the silo mentality that they needed to just leave within their ethnic umbrella and kind of like regression. ‘Cause that’s what happened to the Italians, the Irish, the communities that came before us. You hear stories of members of our community who their parents said, “No, you only speak this language here,” or, “You only speak that language there,” and that kind of thing. And we felt that we had that responsibility.

06:28 EP: So, we did that work for about 15 years, and then in our 15th anniversary, my mom decided to have a big gala to celebrate that. And she said, “You know, I wanna find more people like me.” And that’s when the idea for the American Dream Awards came about. She goes, “What if we put out an essay contest out in the community and see if there’s other people that are planning to do something big like we were,” when we had no business on thinking of doing things that were big. Because one of the things that people don’t realize for the beginning of the years… We were undocumented immigrants. I understand that now as an adult, but the courage that my mother had to do what she did then was incredible. And she always did it with a lot of respect for the community. And one thing she always teaches us is, “You always have to dress and act for the job you want in the future.”

07:20 EP: So, she goes, “We’re gonna act like Americans, because one day we will be.”We’re gonna act like we’re a part of this community because one day we’re officially gonna be.” And that has been our attitude. So, with the 15th anniversary with the gala, it was very successful and we had 220 people at the Amber Room, and then she goes, “Let’s make it an annual event.” So, by the time we reached the third event, we felt that it had grown, it had tripled in size, we were reaching 400 guests at that time, and that we needed to create a non-profit. And the non-profit became the American Dream Foundation, the next step for the Tribuna. ‘Cause now we’re in a community for 20 years and we’re…

07:58 SJ: Now you can really help, because you have different organizations that you’ve worked with, that can come together and be a part of the community, you know what I mean?

08:08 EP: Exactly. Relationships that we foster, but it’s also one of those things where we feel like our job in a community has evolved because we’re living in very different times. We’re leaving in a time when we have a different type of attitude within the immigrant community, a different type of attitude in the mainstream community, and a different type of pressure on the media in general. For 2019 and 2020, we’re gonna be focusing a lot more on our foundation work and doing some direct work with the community. But then the American Dream Foundation is basically a tool that we use to connect all people to the immigrant experience, to really connect everyone to know that they also have an immigration thread story, whether it’s through their great, great, great grandfather or through their mother or through their own story, and put it in a light that is looked at from a human perspective not a policy. We feel that immigration is often talked about as policy and it becomes very divisive, and then we lose the human element in that conversation. And you lose the heart, and then you don’t understand how we’re all interconnected.

09:14 EP: So, we’re trying to change that and at the same time inspire immigrants to not allow their journey to define their worth. ‘Cause that’s a big struggle in immigrant community. When you’re undocumented, sometimes you feel like you’re worth nothing, because you have so many messages telling you that, “You’re not supposed to be here. You’re not adequate. You’re not educated enough. You didn’t come the right way.” It’s a bunch of no, no, no, very negative messaging. And we want to allow people to take pride in their courage and their story, and own their love for America, because we believe that immigrants come here not because they hate America, it’s because they love us so much that they give up their own citizenship. Most countries don’t accept dual citizenship. Once you become an American citizen, you’re literally saying that you’re willing to rage war against your home country. That was very real to me when I did my citizenship test, when they asked me, if the United States ever went to war with Brazil, that I was making the commitment that I would raise arms against Brazil, and I said, “Yes.” It’s a really big commitment, and I think that sometimes people don’t take that into consideration.

10:18 SJ: Yeah. And going back to what you were just saying before about taking pride and being American… Like the stories that the recipients of the awards tell, they’re amazing. They’re American. That’s the American story that you heard from the Italians, and you heard from the Irish, you know what I mean? It’s the same story from years and years ago. So, it’s great that you’re highlighting that human element like you were saying, ’cause you start talking about immigration, it’s so political and stuff. But you’re doing something that’s actually helping and that’s kind of growing out, so I think that’s really, really awesome.

10:54 EP: And, listen, thank you so much for joining us last year.

10:56 SJ: Yeah. No, it was great.

10:57 EP: You guys, your persuasion really made the event even better. We hope to count with you again next year.

11:03 SJ: Yeah, definitely.

11:04 EP: And it’s one of those moments, what I love about the gala, when you look in the room, you see our community reflected. You see people from all over gathering. It’s not the usual chicken circuit, that you’re seeing the usual suspects over and over again. And we look for that to be reflected in the sponsorship and the attendees and the award recipients. It’s one of those nights where the Tribuna becomes a person, and we get to interact with that person. It’s the personification of everything that my mom envisioned for the paper to become. Sometimes it’s just crazy when I talk about it, it’s like, “I’ve been doing this for 21 years as a family.” And it’s sort of like, we call it the fourth child.

11:45 SJ: Yeah, it’s part of your life. Yeah, it’s not even like a… It’s not a job, it’s not a… It’s just your life, it’s part of your life.

11:49 EP: No. I think it would just publish itself even if I wouldn’t show up at this point.

11:53 SJ: Yeah. Was your mom entrepreneurial in Brazil before she came as well?

11:58 EP: Always.

11:58 SJ: Always?

12:00 EP: Always. My mom’s story…

12:00 SJ: And that’s obviously where you and your sister get…

12:03 EP: We have no choice.

12:04 SJ: Your entrepreneurial spirit from, right?

12:06 EP: We have no choice. This woman, she is my role model. And I am unapologetically completely in love with my mom. She’s amazing. My mother never met her parents, and she always had to survive. She always had to make a way for herself. She was adopted in Brazil, the family wasn’t all that kind to her, so she started working around 6 years old. They taught her how to take care of the house, take care of some pigs they were tending to. One of the first times, as she recalls, eating steak was when she would go to restaurants at this village and get the leftover food to feed the pigs, and this one chef wrapped a piece of steak in a newspaper and put on top of the garbage can for her. So, we’re talking about extreme poverty, lack of love, irregular childhood, violence, and that person ends up being one of the most nurturing people in my life. And completely decided to give us everything she didn’t have.

13:00 EP: In that journey, she had many businesses in Brazil. My mom has owned a travel agency, she has owned a photography studio. She’s done so many different things. Whatever she needed to do on her own, whether it was selling boxed lunches to bank workers a block down from our apartment in Brazil, or taking pictures or doing whatever, she did what she needed to do to raise her girls on her own. That’s the example we’ve had. She’s always been a fighter. Her vision is also inclusive of a whole community. She always asked us what are we doing for people other than us. I remember in Brazil us being not… Like middle class, but not even upper middle class, and every Christmas, she would go to a local orphanage and host one of the children to have Christmas with us. That was our life.

13:55 SJ: That’s great.

13:56 EP: We’ve never…

13:57 SJ: It’s kinda almost like she’s passed on that cook giving her the steak?

14:02 EP: Yeah.

14:03 SJ: You know what I mean? She’s passing… She’s doing the same thing. She’s giving people opportunity, she’s giving people the chance, obviously even more than what the guy that gave her the steak was, but she took that, like, “Oh, this guy, he helped me, cared about me, so I’m gonna do that as well.”

14:20 EP: She says that she… Everything that was not done for her is her responsibility to create for other people.

14:28 SJ: Wow, that’s great.

14:29 EP: And that’s a very powerful concept to live by, and it’s a lot of hard work. We were raised under those values. So, for us to volunteer, by the time I was… I remember I was 19 years old, I already served on three different boards in a community. We were raised with that expectation that we needed to do for people what wasn’t done for us, and be ambassadors of sorts wherever we went. It’s been a very long journey, but it’s been amazing. I am proud to be her daughter, I love working for her and seeing her every day.

15:04 SJ: So, you pretty much run the Tribuna now or she’s kind of…

15:08 EP: I do. Mom, unfortunately, she’s had a lot of health challenges, she’s had cancer, she had about 13 surgeries. I said, “She’s a fighter.”

15:19 SJ: I was just getting ready to say, “She’s a fighter.”

15:19 EP: She’s a fighter. I got good genes.

15:21 SJ: Yeah, right?

15:22 EP: For people to take me down, it’s gonna take a lot of effort.

15:28 SJ: Yeah, exactly. Right.

15:28 EP: Let’s just say that, ’cause I’ve got some good genes. The world’s been trying to take her out of the picture, and it’s not working. She’s had a lot of issues, so she’s taking a huge step back now. She’s focusing more in her efforts in Brazil. The weather there is better for her, for her health.

15:42 SJ: Yeah, I would imagine that.

15:43 EP: So, she’s like three months here, three months there now, and it’s what we wanted for her to be able to do.

15:49 SJ: Yeah. That’s what you guys are working towards as well, right?

15:52 EP: Yeah. I hold the shift down for her, but she’s my oracle. I don’t make any major decisions without consulting her.

16:01 SJ: And I’m she’s got her finger on every…

16:05 EP: Oh, she’s still type A. She doesn’t let go of anything.

16:07 SJ: Yeah, exactly. From afar, she’s…

16:09 EP: I still get yelled at. And I like it. It’s our relationship. I’m comfortable with wanting to be a continuation of her. And I take that with a lot of pride. As long as she will mentor me, I welcome, ’cause I’m lucky.

16:25 SJ: And your father as well, he’s been an entrepreneur also, right?

16:30 EP: Oh, my gosh, my dad’s story…

16:31 SJ: Tell us a little about him and his story and what he has done, because that plays into being able to do the things you’ve done with the paper ’cause I would imagine it’s not a huge income-driving resource.

16:41 EP: No, no, no, no, no. Concrete pays the bills, for sure. Concrete pays the bills. Dad is my best friend. We’re each other’s number one fans, and his story is the incredible classic American dream story. His brother got him a job and it was like… It’s his younger brother, the party guy. So, literally two weeks after he gets my dad a job at this construction company, my uncle gets fired, my dad keeps the job and then… The kid parties hard, what can I say?

17:14 SJ: Yeah, yeah. Right.

17:14 EP: He’s not a kid anymore, still acts like it. And then dad continues, the guy sees that he’s doing really well. His background is in accounting, and he is pouring himself into this work, learning how to read plans, and gets promoted to being the foreman and then manager. Then the guy has to go to Portugal back and forth, leaves the company under my dad’s leadership for three months, comes back and my dad says, “I’ve saved enough money, I wanna be partners.” They become partners, eventually my dad buys him out, and this is the company we have to this day. It was that first opportunity. And today, my dad reads plans for multi-million dollar homes. He’s building homes that have indoor basketball courts and bowling alleys, and things like that, and he’ll catch errors from an architect and be like, “No, this is not possible when you’re drawing. You have to go back and you have to redo this.” I’m extremely proud of him, and he is just a huge supporter of everything his girls do.

18:13 SJ: Yeah, that is the American dream. You’re right that is the American dream.

18:16 CH: Hard work, determination, commitment and just the will to keep going. That’s what it’s all about. And that’s a tough industry to be in, construction.

18:25 EP: It is.

18:26 CH: Physically and mentally. Because, what it is, you’re dealing with a lot of people in that industry that can just get a job, like they have criminal backgrounds, some of them. You know what I mean?

18:37 EP: Yeah, yeah.

18:37 CH: You’re not dealing with the cream of the crop.

18:38 EP: And it’s foundation work, so we’re talking one of the toughest jobs in construction.

18:42 SJ: Yeah, because everything is going on top of that.

18:45 EP: Yeah. So, his responsibility…

18:46 SJ: It has to be on.

18:48 EP: The liability.

18:49 CH: Oh, if you mess up, it’s hundreds of thousands potentially.

18:51 EP: Yeah. I know a lot about poured concrete and frames and rebar, and all that good stuff. We all help each other out in our businesses. I work in the Tribuna, but I also work at Amazon. I do a lot of my dad’s billing, I do a lot of his client contacts. We have this Brazilian/Indian family feel to the way we live. We have a three-family home in Danbury. All the children, other than my older sister, so me, my son and my husband, we’re in second floor, my parents are in the first four, my brothers are on the third. The boys work with dad in construction, I do some of the billing, I also do the paper, and we all help each other. It’s like what it used to be back in the day, and for us it works, just living in our smaller community, and then we take that feel and we expand it out into the greater community.

19:40 SJ: Yeah. No, that’s great. To go back to the American Dream really quick, tell us a little bit more also about what you’re able to do with the money from the American Dream as far as providing healthcare here in Danbury?

19:55 EP: Sure. We partner with Western Connecticut Health Network in Danbury Hospital and a beautiful day that they have, and it turns out that it’s a month after the gala, that’s called Mission Health Day. For the foundation, we believe that the three pillars that have made sure that we’re successful in America is focusing on education, on civic engagement and health, because health was the reason why we came here because of my mom’s story.

20:18 EP: With our efforts for education, it’s basically the scholarship that we really change lives. It’s more than just a $2000 check. It’s the ability to give that student the confidence to take pride in their immigration story. And then we have the Person of the Year, the Veteran of the Year, and those are just people that we want to highlight as real celebrities in our community, just like what you’re trying to do here with your show. And then the Lifetime Achievement Award is how we connect the older immigrant communities with their stories of the new immigrant communities that are in our community right now.

20:48 EP: And then for our health initiative, it’s this project of all the ticket proceeds from the gala go towards Mission Health Day. Last year we were able to donate around $13,000, and we were able to buy all the flu shots and buy about 15 brand new coats at Burlington Coat Factory, and give out that day. And it’s a day of free health care, no questions asked. So, if people are under-insured or don’t have insurance for whatever reason, maybe it’s homelessness, maybe it’s financial, maybe it’s because of documentation, that they have the resources, but because they don’t have a Green Card or they’re not a citizen, they can’t purchase insurance in the exchange. It’s a day for people to get a well check. Danbury Hospital comes in huge and sets up a field hospital, army-style, and we have 13 of some of our best doctors in Danbury Hospital that do full physical consults and people get their eyes checked, blood pressure, diabetes. It’s a great way to make sure that our community is healthy, and at the same time to shed light on this issue of access of health care.

21:51 SJ: It’s such a great… It’s funny that I just heard about it recently when we connected, because it’s definitely such an awesome cause and it does so much for the community. It helps the immigrants, it helps the past immigrants with just how they feel, and just being a part of the community, but then it also helps just people who aren’t immigrants that need to get healthcare and can’t afford to do it. I just think that’s really awesome. What do you have on tap for 2019?

22:20 EP: 2019, like I said, Tribuna is going to actually go from biweekly to monthly, so that we can focus more on our foundation work. And unfortunately it’s also the trend of our print, newspaper industry right now. We are going to start a scholarship program for citizenships, so we are going to look to underwrite the cost of the citizenship application for people that can’t afford it. And that’s about $750 per person. That’s just the fees to apply for citizenship. We’re going to be raising some money, so that if there are people in our community who are eligible to become American citizens and they can’t do it right now because it doesn’t fit in their budget, there’s going to be an application process and we’re going to look to pay for that fee so they can become an American citizen.

23:11 SJ: That’s great, because you’re pretty much… If you can qualify for it, you’re pretty much 90% there, and then that 750 is gonna hold you back.

23:19 EP: It depends with the task, ’cause I think that what opens up is we’re looking at the group of people who have their Green Cards and maybe didn’t focus so much on their language skills over the years because they’re able to open a small business, they’re able to survive off of their community. The citizenship, it’s a great way to get those folks to go back to study English… As their study for the citizenship test, they have to have a Civics 101 class that we’re going to provide as well. It’s a great opportunity to get them to really put down their roots and drill down in American history and get a deeper understanding of our country. We do a lot of work with the young people, and now we’re looking to look at my dad’s generation and see who hasn’t made the plunge yet, who’s been saying that they’re leaving and going back home for 20 years? And how can we just lock them down and say, “Accept that you’re not going back home, this is your home. And how can you become an active participant in the society so that we can change immigration reform, not by me telling you what needs to be done, but by you being able to vote.”

24:25 EP: And we feel that it’s our job now. The next step for the foundation is to help people understand how powerful it is for them to exercise their citizenship to the full and become citizens, and how ultimately that’s the only way that’s going to bring about immigration reform. It’s a larger mass of immigrants with our story, real fresh in their heart still, being able to exercise that with their vote.

24:49 SJ: That’s great. I think that that’s awesome. I’m excited to see when that rolls out. I’m excited to give any input that I might have and work with you, like always.

25:01 EP: Absolutely. We want to continue to do that. You guys, I think this podcast is a great thing. I think it’s also a way for people to just be inspired to do something different, and for us, that’s been our job for 20 years, we just want people to be inspired to love where they’ve chosen to live.

25:17 SJ: Yeah. No, that’s awesome.

25:18 EP: And be there, present in mind, body and spirit. A lot of times with the immigrants, they migrate their bodies over, their hearts stay back home, the mindset doesn’t always come at the right time. So, we’ve been…

25:30 SJ: It’s definitely a process. Right?

25:32 EP: Yeah. We’ve been trying to get everything for the person to be whole here and present so they can take full advantage of this great country, ’cause at the heart of it all, all that we do as a family is because we absolutely love the United States of America. And I cannot thank this country enough for the things it’s done for me, for my parents, that will do for my son, who was lucky enough to be born here. He has autism. When I go back home and I see children in Brazil that have the same diagnosis as my son, and the lack of opportunities and treatment that they have, it hits me so hard. And I sometimes even wonder, like, “Is it all because God knew I was gonna have a child with special needs?”

26:14 SJ: Sometimes that’s what they say, yeah.

26:15 EP: And then my parents had to come here, and I am the one reaping the most overwhelming benefit because my son has an opportunity here, that if he was born with special needs in Brazil, he will never have. So, we always wonder what was the purpose.

26:29 SJ: Yeah, the position that you got put in.

26:31 EP: Yeah. That’s my guy, Caio Ninja. That’s my…

26:34 SJ: Yeah, he’s cool. I love that kid’s hair.

26:36 EP: He’s tight.

26:37 SJ: That kid has the coolest haircut ever.

26:39 EP: He has.

26:41 SJ: He’s always super tight. Is there a barber in the house? Like the kid…

26:45 EP: There is. I wanted to shout out to G. Fuego in New Milford, Gustavo went to high school with me.

26:51 SJ: He has that line snapped perfect every single time, I love it.

26:55 EP: And Caio sits for it, and it’s really the work of another amazing professional. And I will give you guys a tip, this is someone you guys have to interview, amazing story. He would cut Caio’s hair because of Caio being in the spectrum, a year-and-a-half ago, on the floor. And he’ll open up the barbershop for Caio early, ’cause Caio could not stand having anyone touch him. Now, Caio loves getting his hair cut. And on the eighth day of the haircut, I’m telling you, he goes, “Mommy it’s time for me to see Gustavo.”

27:21 SJ: Thats funny.

27:23 EP: He wants a fresh cut.

27:25 SJ: Yeah. That’s awesome though, that he’s…

27:26 EP: Mommy keeps it fresh.

27:27 SJ: Yeah, right. That’s awesome that he’s able to adjust and do that for him, that’s great. That’s great. All right. Well, gotta wrap up. Chase got an important call. This is usually the part of the show where I’m like, “All right, Chase, you gotta go do outreach, you gotta go do sales.” And then he gets annoyed with me, he’s like, “Why do you say that at the end every time?” But the kid’s a hustler, this is what he does.

27:48 EP: Hey, gotta make money to keep doing this podcast.

27:50 SJ: That’s right, that is right.

27:51 EP: Basically that’s what it is. It’s what my mom tells me.

27:51 CH: Gotta put fuel in this fire.

27:52 SJ: Sure do.

27:54 CH: Someone’s gotta do it.

27:54 EP: That’s it.

27:56 SJ: Oh, and then guess what else today is? Today is our work Christmas party. Last night, we were making cutlets. This guy makes a good cutlet.

28:05 EP: Do you?

28:05 SJ: I know when you look at him, it might not look like it.

28:08 CH: I was a sous chef, a cook, for four or five years.

28:13 EP: Oh, wow.

28:13 SJ: So, what do we have on the menu today? We have…

28:15 CH: Short ribs, chicken parmesan, rice and beans, garlic bread.

28:20 SJ: Green bean casserole.

28:22 CH: Green bean casserole. Some of it was just like, “Oh, I know how to make this,” so let’s just make it. And then other stuff was more traditional, like Christmas green bean casserole. My family has it every year.

28:33 SJ: We’re about to get that stove warmed up, we got a full kitchen in the office.

28:38 EP: Oh, so you guys cook it right here?

28:39 SJ: Yeah. Well, we prepped all last night.

28:41 EP: You should invite me to do a keto meal for you guys.

28:43 SJ: I know, right. Oh, I almost forgot, we gotta talk about the keto. You are obviously hardcore keto.

28:51 EP: Keto for life.

28:52 SJ: Keto for life. Tell us really quick about that before we go.

28:55 EP: Keto’s awesome.

28:57 SJ: You love it, right?

28:57 EP: I love it. It changed my life. I have lost 20 pounds. And I have gotten rid of two very serious health issues that I was having. Right now, I’m almost at 8000 followers in Instagram for my keto account, ketomanu. And I just love posting about eating a very healthy lifestyle, where I eat mostly fats, like bacon and heavy cream and cheese, coupled with a moderate amount of protein and lots of green vegetables and berries. It’s not for everybody, but people that are curious, they should check with their doctor, check their cholesterol levels, check if they’re okay. And if you’re looking to lose weight, especially women that are looking to do a reset for their hormones, if they’re having issues, it’s really one of the best diets out there. Also for people who are going through cancer treatment, it’s a great way to eat. If you want more information, go to Instagram and look for ketomanu.

29:55 SJ: You have a lot of different recipes, you always put pictures up.

30:00 EP: Yeah. I have a task kitchen. I use keto to curb my craving, so if I feel like having cheesecake, I look up “keto cheesecake” and I try out keto cheesecake recipes. I have a website, ketomanu.com, where I post these test recipes that I do. Some are original, some are from other people that I credit it to. And I tell you what works and what doesn’t. And then through Instagram, I post at least three meals a day that I’ve actually made for myself to eat. So, everything I post in Instagram…

30:26 SJ: People can go along with… They can follow your journey.

30:29 EP: Yeah.

30:30 SJ: That’s great. That’s great.

30:30 EP: And I started school this week, come back at school to become a health coach.

30:35 SJ: Wow. Lots of hats, this one wears over here.

30:39 EP: I do. Why not? Life is short, why not do it all? And it’s just an incredible journey so I can, in the future, help other people find the right diet for their body. This is the right diet for my body. It may be something else for you, but I love the keto.

30:53 SJ: For me, my diet is more like Pippa’s and… No, I was kidding.

30:58 EP: Well, you can do keto on Pippa’s. That’s the unbelievable thing.

31:01 SJ: That’s true.

31:02 EP: The other day I had a tight schedule and all I had available to me was fast food, and I had just some hamburger patties with cheese.

31:10 SJ: With no bun.

31:11 EP: No bun, the side lettuce, tomato, so it’s very versatile.

31:17 SJ: Yeah. All right. Well, thank you so much for joining us.

31:19 EP: Thank you for having me. Good luck with this.

31:21 SJ: Looking forward to working with you on all your endeavors and everything, obviously, staying in touch like we do.

31:26 EP: Absolutely, we’ll do that.

31:27 CH: Thanks for joining us.

31:28 EP: My pleasure.

31:29 SJ: Thank you so much.

31:30 EP: Thank you, guys. Thank you. Good luck.

31:31 SJ: All right. Bye-bye.

31:32 EP: Bye.