The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe will host a social gathering Saturday in honor of Alice Lopez, a longtime housing advocate who helped pave the way for a low-income development project that recently received state backing.
Lopez was the first director of the Mashpee Wampanoag Housing Department. She is remembered by friends and family as a tireless advocate of the needy and homeless, a mentor to Wampanoag youth and someone who sacrificed time and energy to help preserve the 12,000-year-old nation’s culture and traditions.
“She was always like a big sister to me,” said David Weeden, deputy tribal historic preservation officer, who is spearheading the social event. “Sometimes when we’re young we don’t have faith in ourselves, and Alice was always one to give encouraging words.”
Lopez’s housing activism stemmed from her experience when she was homeless and from when she worked at Housing Assistance Corp. in Hyannis. Carol Lopez, her mother, said she used to invite those who struggled to find housing or were in crisis to live with her.
“She was just trying to help people. That’s who she was,” Carol Lopez said.
Alice Lopez was walking the site of the new housing project, which is proposed for roughly 58 acres on Meetinghouse Road close to the Old Indian Meeting House, back in December 2010 when she sprained her ankle. The injury turned out to be a fracture and she suffered a blood clot, Weeden said. She died on New Year’s Day in 2011 at age 49.
The social comes nearly a month after the tribe received word that the state would offer to help fund the project, which has been in the making for nearly a decade.
Saturday’s social will be from 2 to 6 p.m. at tribal headquarters, 483 Great Neck Road South. The event is open to public.
“And there’ll be drumming, dancing and some raffles,” Weeden said.
— Follow Tanner Stening on Twitter: @tsteningCCT.