EDISON, NJ – The Community Action Reaches Everyone (C.A.R.E.) is an organization dedicated to assisting needy families in Edison Township, but how did C.A.R.E come about? Who is the driving force behind this local organization dedicated to helping others?
For her work in the community Dora Ramos is one of four people being honored by the Edison Municipal Alliance/Youth Services Commission at the 12th Bi-Annual Volunteer Award Banquet at the Pines Manor on Thursday, January 29, 2015. The other honorees are Barbara Turanicza, Anthony Varroney, and Maureen Vogel-Horowitz. Ramos, who is so humble about the great work that she does, is happy to be sharing this award with the other distinguished honorees.
Ramos explained what her community advocacy means to her in these words, “C.A.R.E. is a joy for me because everyone who gives to C.A.R.E. does it from the heart, not for publicity, not for thanks, but to help the kids.” She makes it a point to say that she couldn't do what she does without the support of the C.A.R.E. Board of Directors and the members of the community who so willingly donate their time and resources.
Dora Ramos, grew up in a poor family in Puerto Rico, was very timid when she and her husband, Jimmy, moved to Edison in 1988.
When Ramos brought her son, Christopher, to the Menlo Park School for his first day of kindergarten, she was nervous, especially because she spoke no English. She was surprised when a woman with a kind smile addressed her in Spanish and asked if she needed help. That woman turned out to be Dr. Carol Buonomo, a World Language teacher at J.P. Stevens High School, who made a major impact of Ramos' life. Buonomo also had a child going into kindergarten. Ramos was astonished to receive such a warm welcome from a stranger, and was even more taken aback when Buonomo asked her to become active in the PTA.
Ramos replied, “What can I do? I don't even speak English.” Buonomo assured Ramos that there were plenty of jobs for her to tackle. “You can make coffee; you can take photographs. You can get involved.”
Ramos was elated as so told her husband of her experience. “I had found a way to become involved in my son's school, to become a part of his experience there. This way the teachers could get to know my family and learn about our journey.”
This act of kindness on Buonomo's part was Ramos' entrance into the world of charitable service in the Edison community.
“Even as a child, I enjoyed helping people,” Ramos explained. Dr. Mary Reece, the principal of Menlo Park School at the time Christopher was in school there found many ways to encourage and use Ramos' talents in building community spirit. Eventually Ramos' experience and overwhelming desire to give back to the community that had given so much to her family led to the establishment of Community Action Reaches Everyone (C.A.R.E.)
A little more than a decade ago, C.A.R.E. became incorporated as a non-profit organization that has assisted families in need in the local community. As its president, Ramos has built cooperative liaisons between the Edison schools, businesses, and community members to reach as many families as possible. The primary goal, according to the C.A.R.E. mission statement “is to reduce the socio-economic and emotional barriers that adversely impact families in our community. C.A.R.E. distinguishes itself by identifying those it helps through referrals from concerned community individuals such as doctors, teachers, nurses, and police personnel. C.A.R.E. is also unique because it provides on-going mentoring and monitoring of services.”
C.A.R.E. provides tutorial programs in all subject areas, including technology to students in conjunction with the Edison school system. As the students learn, their parents and pre-K siblings are engaged in workshops that highlight parenting skills, family health issues, and educational readiness.
In addition, C.A.R.E. has developed “Move It to Lose It,” a program aimed at 6th grade students to educate them on the importance of health and fitness. Most recently, C.A.R.E. has been working with New Beginnings Church to develop an academic program in which students are given access to computers after school at a facility within walking distance to their homes.
“Whenever I go to Richard O'Malley, Edison Public Schools Superintendent when we need something, he is there to help in any way he can.” The cooperation between the school system and C.A.R.E. is a huge reason for the organization's success, said Ramos.
This is the first time that C.A.R.E., the church, and the Board of Education have combined forces to offer a program to advance students who lack access to technology at home. The popularity of this initiative has been outstanding.