The Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy’s back-to-school barbecue is an annual event in Uphams Corner where the community comes together on Groom Street and each child leaves with a backpack full of school supplies.
But a pall has been cast on this year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, because one of the residents of the street, Alfredo “Freddy” Centeio, will not be there.
Centeio, 30, was fatally shot Aug. 1 in Dorchester while he was out celebrating his birthday. He became the 25th homicide victim of the year in Boston.
“I knew Freddy since he was born,” said Isaura Mendes, founder of the Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy and organizer of the cookout. “He’s my grandchildren’s cousin. He grew up in this neighborhood his entire life. He was a great young man.”
Mendes, 68, said Centeio usually went to the annual cookout, and he will be greatly missed.
“It’s going to be very sad,” she said.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Bobby Mendes Peace Legacy, the nonprofit organization she founded in 1999 in memory of her son, Bobby, who was stabbed to death in 1995. Her youngest son, Alexander “Matthew” Mendes, who was murdered in 2006, inspired the annual back-to-school barbecue.
The event will be held from 3 to 6 p.m. on Groom Street, which is also known as Bobby Mendes Way. It will feature food and games, and 250 backpacks will be distributed to children who attend. Mendes said she puts peace pins on the backpacks “to help them understand that violence is not the answer.”
“It’s going to be a big cookout for a lot of people,” she said. “We expect the mayor to come. We are just going to be here. We’ve been doing this for years now, closing my street to organize this for the community.”
Mendes said she hopes the event will bring residents, the police, and “everyone in the community” together with a common goal of supporting kids in the neighborhood, and reminding them about the importance of education.
“Why can’t we come together as a family and make a difference for the children?” she said. “I’m hoping to fill the street to make an example for the children, and to show that we care about them.”