Orlando Ramos

Candidate for Ward 8 Springfield City Council

Community Activism

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The local newspapers have oftentimes described me as a community activist. By definition, community activism can be described as intentional action to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change-it is a title that is earned through action and example. Thus, it is a great honor to be described as a community activist.

Over the last few years I have dedicated hundreds of hours to community service. However, I would like to make it clear that my service to my community does not entitle me to any elective position-I do this from the heart; not because I want to get elected to office. Some of the events listed on this page are annual events. If you are interested in volunteering for any of these events-or interested in the services provided-please feel free to contact us. Thank you!

Sarah Davis Ramp

Orlando Ramos with other members of UBC Local 108 who helped with the Sarah Davis ramp.

On July 18th 2009-together with twelve other volunteers from the United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 108-we built a wheelchair ramp for Mrs. Sarah Davis, who lost both legs to diabetes (see video). We finished the ramp in four hours and officially stamped it with the union logo (see article). It felt good to know that even a project as simple as this one dramatically changed a person’s life for the better.

Unfortunately, Sarah Davis passed away in December of 2010. My heart goes out to the Davis family; may she rest in Peace.

Manilla Ave Santa Clause

Orlando Ramos - dressed as Santa Clause - delivering gifts to children on Christmas Day

This past Christmas was my fifth year playing the role of Santa Clause on Christmas Day (see article) – every year I dress in a Santa outfit and deliver gifts to all of the children who live on Manilla Avenue (the street where I grew up). Manilla Ave. is located in the Pine Point section of Springfield.

I use my own money to buy gifts for all the children-this past year I counted over forty children ages 12 and under who received a gift from me on Christmas Day. I look forward to doing it again this year (see story).

Back to School Fair

2010 Back2School Fair at “Nuestras Raices” Farm in Holyoke

In August of 2010, I led a group of people from the Apostolic Christian Church of Bethsaida Inc. in organizing our first annual “Back to School Fair” (visit website).

Our mission was to help two-hundred low-to-moderate income families from Holyoke and the surrounding areas by providing them with free school supplies. Thanks to the generosity of many area businesses that we approached for donations, we were able to exceed our goal by providing four-hundred and sixty-five local families with backpacks full of school supplies at no cost. We will be hosting this event again on August 21st of this year.

Keep Springfield Beautiful

2010 KSB city-wide cleanup

Another organization that I have volunteered for is Keep Springfield Beautiful. KSB is a non-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of litter/graffiti prevention and removal, and recycling (visit website). As a volunteer in 2008, and assistant zone captain in 2009, 2010, and 2011, I helped lead a team of over a hundred people in a successful single-day citywide cleanup. KSB had over seven-hundred volunteers this year. To all of you who participated; thank you!

C.O.R.I. Independence

CORI Reform is about crime prevention, and giving good people a second chance; as Governor Patrick put it “a misdemeanor should not turn into a life-sentence.”

I recently got involved with the Springfield Health Disparities Project which is the local chapter of a national organization called Universal Community Voices Eliminating Disparities. One of the biggest projects that we have organized is C.O.R.I. Independence. The C.O.R.I. Independence effort is designed to provide the people of the community with C.O.R.I. education and assist qualified candidates (see below) in the process of sealing their record. The kickoff drew over six hundred and fifty people from Springfield and the surrounding communities. With the help of volunteer attorneys and law students we were able to help hundreds of people in the process of obtaining a copy of their C.O.R.I., and even help some of the participants begin the process of sealing their records-while providing them with information about the new C.O.R.I. Reform. During this event and a series of other smaller events I personally helped many of the participants successfully seal their criminal records. Some of the folks that we helped include:

  • A single mother who had repeatedly been denied housing because of a misdemeanor from 13 years ago.
  • A father of four who could not find employment because of a conviction from 1988.
  • A young college-educated man who could not find a decent job because of a misdemeanor.

C.O.R.I. Independence Day 2010

In August of 2010, the state legislature reached an agreement to overhaul the state’s C.O.R.I. system (Criminal Offender Record Information). Under the new C.O.R.I. Reform:

  • Effective November 4th 2010 the law “bans the box” on initial written employment applications. Except in instances where an employer is prohibited by law from hiring individuals because of criminal convictions, employers in Massachusetts will no longer be allowed to ask whether an applicant for a job has been convicted of a criminal offense on an initial written employment application (but could pose the question during job interviews).
  • The waiting periods for sealing records will be reduced. Beginning May 4th 2012, individuals may request that their criminal records be sealed according to the following schedule:
    • Misdemeanor: 5 years (down from 10years) after the conviction or any period of incarceration-whichever is later.
    • Felony (some): 10 years (down from 15years) after the conviction or any period of incarceration-whichever is later.

Here are some important facts for opponents of CORI Reform:
* Murder, manslaughter, and sex offense convictions are NOT sealable
** Law enforcement agencies will still have access to all records, including sealed charges
*** To be eligible for sealing, an applicant must not have a conviction for any crime during the above waiting periods.

The 2nd annual C.O.R.I. Independence Day is schedule for June 30th 2011 at Blunt Park.

Alliance/Alianza

Over the last few years, I’ve volunteered many hours at the Massachusetts Latino Chamber of Commerce. During that time I assisted and helped create a program called the Alliance/Alianza where I taught labor history and carpentry to dozens of women and minority students looking to get into the construction industry. At the conclusion of the program I was able to assist more than half of the participants with job placement and/or placement in an advanced paid training-in collaboration with Springfield Works. As the director of the Alliance I was also able to assist minority-owned businesses in the bidding process for local contracts.

Habitat for Humanity

Prior to joining the United Brotherhood of Carpenters, I volunteered for Habitat for Humanity. The mission of Habitat for Humanity is to build affordable housing in partnership with people in need. After joining the union, I would continue to volunteer between layoffs-as a way to sharpen my carpentry skills, while giving back to the community and helping people in need.

Other Volunteer Work

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Nelson Henderson

I love to work with people of all ages. There are many other projects that I have volunteered for, that are not listed on this page-from planting trees in the community to feeding the homeless. Win or lose (this election) I know that I will continue to dedicate as much time as possible to helping people in need; because I believe in my heart that my talent and my passion reside in the same place-and that’s in public service. If you or your organization would be interested in having me as a guest speaker for the youth or for your group, please let me know; I would be happy to accept the invitation-God knows how much our young people need positive role-models. May God continue to bless you and your families.

Sincerely,
Orlando Ramos
Candidate for City Council

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