A portion of Miami’s SW Fourth Avenue soon will be known as “Sister Margarita Miranda-Otero, RSCJ Way,” in honor of the late founder of Centro Mater Child Care Services Inc., a non-profit that aids economically disadvantaged families through childcare and education.
The street naming ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Mar. 19, at 418 SW Fourth Ave., near the original site where she first founded the initiative as an after-school program for children who would otherwise go home alone. From its humble beginnings, Centro Mater has grown to 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.
Supporters will gather to unveil the new street sign with the participation of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, Miami Commissioner Frank Carollo, Commissioner Francis Suarez, Miami Archbishop Thomas G. Wenski, and Centro Mater alumni.
The street dedication process began when Centro Mater representatives sent a letter to the mayor and commissioners, suggesting the honor. Commissioner Carollo then presented a resolution to the city commission, which was unanimously approved.
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. Over time, the award-winning program has expanded from the streets of Little Havana to Hialeah Gardens and Hialeah. These expansions have allowed the organization to reach previously underserved neighborhoods where immigrants suffering from socio-economic disadvantages have historically concentrated. Currently, Centro Mater provides childcare services to children and families of every nationality, faith and race.
“Growing up, I would always hear my mother speak about Mother Miranda’s admirable work,” said Octavio A Verdeja Jr., chair of the Centro Mater Foundation. “Now as chair of the foundation, it’s an honor to take part in celebrating her legacy with this street dedication and a privilege to assist in the continuance of her vision.”
A native of Havana, Cuba, Margarita 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.
She soon recognized the need for childcare services among newly exiled Cuban families, and began volunteering to assist such 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 who would otherwise go home alone.
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 continued to enlist the support of philanthropists, politicians and even fellow exiles, in order to ensure the best quality of care available in Miami for the children she championed.
For additional information on Centro Mater, visit www.CentroMater.com.