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Eddie Estevez, flanked by

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Inspired By: Eddie Estevez

The Glastonbury Man Helps Raise Funds to Give Cape Verdean Children Playgrounds

After retiring from his long-time corporate marketing career in 2008, Eddie Esteves threw himself into the usual activities retirees embrace. He golfed, he hit the gym more frequently, and he gardened. 

He also started poking around into his ancestry.

Born in what today is known as the Republic of Cabo Verde (previously called Cape Verde) Eddie, a longtime Glastonbury resident, wanted to find out more about how he and his family came to the U.S. and why. 

He learned the basics: That his mother’s parents emigrated to New Bedford, MA in the early 1900’s from the island of Sao Nicolau to live a better life, that his mother was six when her mother died, and that she was brought to Cabo Verde by her godmother (an island nation off the west coast of Africa) in 1931 where she met Eddie’s father and started a family. Eddie was born on the island of Brava, Cabo Verde and emigrated with his family to New Bedford, Mass., in 1956 when he was a toddler.

His ancestry searches also led him to discover that there were large populations of Cabo Verde descendants here in the Northeast, including enclaves in Norwich, Waterbury, and Bridgeport. He also discovered the group Cabo Verdeans United, (CVU), a nonprofit created in 2001 by two sisters (Genie Lomba and Tila Adams) and dedicated to improving the lives of Cabo Verde’s children through education and recreation.

CVU’s initial goal was to build one playground on each of the nine inhabited islands of Cabo Verde. Eddie became a member of CVU last year and uses his marketing skills to help them raise funds for playgrounds.

While Cabo Verdeans United recently reached its initial goal of building nine playgrounds, it has broadened its mission to build playgrounds in as many neighborhoods as possible across the Republic of Cabo Verde.  

“Impressed with all of the great work that CVU has done for the children and families of Cabo Verde, Eddie was eager to become a part of the next fund-raising effort to build more playgrounds in his homeland,” CVU says on its website. “His excitement blossomed into a fund-raising project that would combine two of his talents: marketing and pull-ups.”

Eddie kicked off his “Pull-ups For Playgrounds” campaign this past winter. He committed to doing  1,000 pullups and solicited donations of three cents per pullup from hundreds of donors. Known in the gym as Grand PoPs” (Grand Prince of Pull-ups), Eddie completed the challenge by February and traveled to Cabo Verde in April with a group of volunteers to help build playgrounds. 

“We want to make sure that the children of Cabo Verde are uplifted and that they grow, spiritually and emotionally, through education and recreation,” Eddie says.  “And we believe that having a safe space, like a playground, in as many communities as possible is a perfect way to help achieve that mission.”

Besides being a longtime resident here, Eddie is also the father of two local women, Marika Esteves-Smith, and Ashli Esteves-Nelson, who recently started their own bakery, Brown Butter Creations, at 353 New London Turnpike. Eddie and his wife, Debbie, volunteer at the bakery, working on marketing for the business and even manning the front counter. 

He’s become an unabashed promoter of his daughters’ joint endeavor, which has earned him the nickname “The Ambassador of Deliciousness.” 

For more information about Cabo Verdeans United or to volunteer or donate, visit 

  • Eddie Estevez, flanked by
  • Eddie Estevez
  • Eddie Estevez, flanked by his daughters, Marika-Esteves-Smith, and Ashli Esteves-Nelson.
  • Children at a playground built by Cabo Verdeans United
  • Eddie Estevez (right, with red bag), arrives in Cabo Verde in April with a crew from CVU.
  • Eddie Estevez does a few pull-ups on a playground his group built in Cabo Verde.