RCMA staff helped dedicate the Evan Portee Resource Room next to our South Highlands Child Development Center in Lake Placid on April 28.
Ms. Evan, as she was affectionately known, began working for RCMA in 1982. She held several positions throughout her career, including teacher, center director, area coordinator, teen parent coordinator and most recently, a family engagement resource specialist.
Having moved to Lake Placid when she was about five years old and doing farm work at an early age, Ms. Evan knew and was much loved by everybody in her community. She passed away in January 2020.
At the ceremony, RCMA Executive Director Isabel Garcia gave the opening remarks. Board Member Al Hinson cut the ribbon. Board Member Gloria Kendrick shared memories of her friendship with Ms. Evan, including the time they parodied the Blue Brothers in RCMA events. And Area Coordinator Noemi Vazquez presented a plaque to Ms. Evan’s children, Mike and Tony, and sister, Mary. Many other staff were in attendance.
The most powerful tribute we can offer Ms. Evan is these remembrances from RCMA staff who worked with her.
Isabel Garcia, Executive Director
I was mentored and groomed under Ms. Evan. She was my Area Coordinator, and I really personally connected with her. She helped me grow and develop as a leader, She was truly a role model of what cultural sensitivity means. She was so nurturing when dealing with the most difficult situations at the center when we had challenges with children or parents.
She was always connected with her community and the many RCMA communities. She was a boots on the ground person, going into homes because she grew up in those communities. She never presented herself above anyone and said “I’m still the same person and I’m still here with you in this struggle of our rural communities and mostly Black communities that are underrepresented and undeserved and never have enough resources.”
Ms. Evan was always fighting to bring in health services and other resources to people in need. She was a true advocate and always spoke out for the forgotten members of society. That’s why the Resource Room was so important in that community. She went above and beyond to be there evenings and weekends so people could have access to computers that they used to apply for food stamps, unemployment and other services. She knew what they needed.
She really was the beacon of that community, a very inspirational person and a true leader who led with her heart.
Sonja Wilson, Area Coordinator
Ms. Evan Portee had a huge heart for children and families. She wanted to make sure all children were served in an RCMA center. She knew that it was the best place for children. She would walk the neighborhood of Highway Park to recruit children and families. Ms. Evan, even through difficult and challenging situations, always came through for families providing the best possible solution to keep families intact. She was an “out of the box” type thinker and it worked to keep families together. Ms. Evan was big on advocating and supporting families to speak up for their children.
Ms. Evan was the pillar of Highway Park. She showed leadership. Her leadership drove others to greatness. She made you feel like nothing was impossible to achieve. She believed that every child should have a father in their life. In addition, at one point she started a Fatherhood Program to make sure fathers were involved in their children’s lives in the community and RCMA. She was a mentor and believed in higher education. She was quiet with a loud voice. Not only our RCMA family but the Highway Park surrounding area misses her. She left an impact on the lives of children, families in RCMA and the community. If you asked me what did I learn from Ms. Evan, I would tell you the love and passion that she gave to RCMA. She had a hidden skill for planting. She put much love and passion in tending to her plants. She gave each plant an everlasting impact just as she did with children and families.
Noemi Vazquez, Area Coordinator
We decided to dedicate the room in memory of Ms. Evan Portee because she helped the community and families in need all the time. She was a leader in the community and advocated for family’s rights to receive the services they were in need of.
Diana Judge, retired RCMA employee
Evan Portee was much appreciated in the Highway Park community, because her focus was on all the children in Highway Park or in RCMA care, making sure they were safe. She was unselfish when it came to the children and families. Evan had a loving heart and was willing to give so much of herself. We talked about her gardening, going fishing and her worm bed that she had in her back yard. I especially grew close to her after we retired because of our health issues. I do miss talking to my friend.