NEWCASTLE — The Frances Perkins Center plans to celebrate the life and work of its namesake with a virtual garden party and awards ceremony from 5-6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15.

This year’s annual party marks the center’s receiving a $500,000 grant from the National Park Service’s Save America’s Treasures program to preserve and restore the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark, and a $100,000 appropriation from the state, “An Act To Conserve the Frances Perkins Homestead National Historic Landmark,” to ensure the public has safe and accessible access to the homestead.

Honored at this year’s event will be historian Dr. Heather Cox Richardson, who will receive the center’s Intelligence and Courage Award, and social activist Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, who will receive the Open Door Award.

Donations from the event will support the center’s vision to protect Perkins’ beloved home and transform it into a national center for learning and discourse that addresses 21st-century economic and social issues.

Dr. Heather Cox Richardson will receive the Frances Perkins Center’s Intelligence and Courage Award.

Richardson, a bestselling author of six books on history and politics, is a professor of 19th-century history at Boston College. She has amassed hundreds of thousands of followers with her series of columns published on Substack and Facebook called “Letters from an American.” Richardson launched a weekly podcast in May, “Now and Then,” with fellow historian Joanne Freeman.

Richardson received both her Master of Art degree and doctorate from Harvard University.


Social activist Juana Rodriguez-Vazquez, will receive the Frances Perkins Center’s Open Door Award. Contributed photo

Rodriguez-Vazquez is interim executive director, migrant education director, and Rayitos de Sol childcare director at the Maine nonprofit Mano en Mano (Hand in Hand).

Having arrived in the U.S. at age 5 from Mexico, Rodriguez-Vazquez and her family traveled back and forth between Florida and Michigan, requiring her to change schools repeatedly. In 1999, the family moved to Milbridge to pick blueberries. She graduated from high school there, and worked hard to learn English and excel in her studies while working with Mano En Mano helping and tutoring other students.

In 2015, the National Migrant Education Conference awarded Rodriguez-Vazquez the Vida A. Rivera, Jr. Award. Rodriguez-Vazquez holds a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Maine and General Elementary (K-8) Teacher Certification from the Maine Department of Education.

To register for this free event, visit

To learn more about the center, contact Michael Chaney, executive director, via email at [email protected], call 207-563-3374, or visit

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