Newark, NJ – Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. hosted the 2019 Essex County Portuguese Heritage Celebration on Tuesday, June 18th. During the program, DiVincenzo presented Star of Essex Awards to Lt. Helena Oliveira, Essex County Sheriff’s Officer, and Anthony Tavares, Vice Principal and Co-Head Boys Basketball Coach at East Side High School in Newark. The honorees were recognized for their many positive contributions to New Jersey – especially in Essex County.
“Essex County has been shaped and developed by the various cultures and ethnicities of the people who have lived and worked here. Celebrating the heritage of our neighbors will help us understand and embrace our diversity,” DiVincenzo said. “Lt. Helena Oliveira and Anthony Tavares have made many contributions to our civic, educational and cultural worlds here in Essex County,” he added.
Lt. Helena Oliveira joined the Sheriff’s Office in 1996 and rose through the ranks from officer, to sergeant and to lieutenant. Lt. Oliveira has served in the Detective Bureau, Internal Affairs, Patrol Division and the Bureau of Criminal Identification. Currently, she oversees daily operations of the Civil Process Division.
Outside of work, Lt. Oliveira is a member of Casa Dos Arcos, a Luso social club that is intrinsically involved in charitable, civil and community life. Her local expertise and connections have led her to become Sheriff Fontoura’s personal representative within the Luso and Brazilian communities for those in need of food, shelter, clothing, medical assistance and other constituent services. She also plays a key supervisory role in the various vital community causes of the Sheriff’s Department.
Most recently, Lt. Oliveira completed a tour of duty with the prestigious Essex County Prosecutor’s Homicide Task Force. While serving with the Prosecutor’s Office, she provided vital translation services and assisted with statements and interrogations for Portuguese, Brazilian and Spanish speaking victims of crimes, for their families and for suspects.
Lt. Oliveira graduated from Wilson Avenue School and East Side High School with honors. She also earned an associate degree in Criminal Justice from Essex County College and is a graduate of the Essex County Public Safety Academy.
“I am truly humbled and honored to receive this award. I want to acknowledge my mother and my family. I credit my mother for instilling in me a pride of my heritage and my hard work ethic,” Lt. Oliveira said.
Anthony Tavares is Vice Principal and Co-Head Boys Basketball Coach at East Side High School in Newark. He joined the East Side High School staff in 2000 as a mathematics teacher through the alternate route program. In 2005, he was promoted to Mathematics Department Chairperson and later to Vice Principal.
For the last 10 years, Tavares has been the scheduling and operations Vice Principal at East Side. He is also the Co-Head Boys Basketball Coach with Newark Hall of Fame Alum Bryant Garvin. Since 1999, they have led the Red Raiders to win four state championships, six North Jersey Sectional Championships, six Essex County Championships and 10 Newark Public Schools Christmas Tournament Championships. The two coaches have been Star-Ledger Coaches of the Year for the 2013-2014 and 2018-2019 seasons and have compiled a 382-142 career record, finishing the 2019 season with a 29-5 record and earning the Group III State, North Jersey Sectional and Essex County Tournament Championships and a #6 ranking in New Jersey.
Tavares was recruited to the New Jersey Institute of Technology to play basketball and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He earned a master’s degree in Administration and Supervision from St. Peter’s College.
“I am proud of the work that I do on the athletic field as a coach, but I am more proud of the work that I do as a teacher, which is seeing 431 students graduate from high school tomorrow (June 19th). As a coach and teacher, I preach togetherness and team,” Tavares said.
The invocation was presented by Rev. Francisco Mendonca, who is Parochial Vicar of St. Philomena Parish in Livingston and chaplain of the Livingston Police Department, Fire Department and LPBA. Entertainment was provided by Joao Machado. Jasmine Ramos from the Essex County Clerk’s Office sang the National Anthem.
The Essex County Portuguese Heritage Month Celebration is the part of a year-long cultural series created by County Executive DiVincenzo to highlight Essex County’s diversity. Other cultural heritage celebrations include African American History Month, Irish Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, Italian Heritage Month, Jewish Heritage, Latino Heritage and Pride Month to highlight the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered and Questioning community.