Roseann Ramos has been volunteering to help the homeless for many years now — but this year, she had to switch it up a bit due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Ramos, who is also the reigning Miss New York for the fairly new Queens City of the Hudson pageant, created Project H4H out of a desire to provide hygiene products to homeless people.
“It actually stems from a co-worker of mine who passed away,” Ramos said. “Every year on his birthday, he would walk the streets of New York with his old clothes or things that he didn’t need anymore and give them to those who needed them. So to memorialize him on his birthday, his family asked us to come and join. My two friends and I, my two co-workers who then became lifelong friends, kind of jumped at this opportunity.”
The 25-year-old, who is currently studying social work at York College, collected donations from friends and family.
In the end, the donations amounted to more than she anticipated.
“I sent out an Amazon wishlist and spread it across my social media,” Ramos said. “I apparently made this so easy for everybody because within a week, I had boxes and boxes and boxes of hygiene products just showing up at my house.”
So far, she’s organized about 150 packs of hygiene products to hand out.
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Thank you to the Pam and Russell for your generous donations to the Hygiene for the Homeless packs. I am so moved by your selfless donations to a cause that I am so passionate about. These items will be a great start to the next round of packs that go directly into the hands of the homeless community in NYC! If you would like to contribute to my social impact platform please consider purchasing items from my Amazon list. https://www.amazon.com/hz/wishlist/ls/355FMAU5IXHWT?ref_=wl_share All items will be assembled into packs and distributed to the homless community. Thank you again to those who have contributed! #qcoth #pageant #crown #sash #queen #social #impact #platform #donations #donate #ny #newyork #nyc #newyorkcity #queens #brooklyn #bronx #manhattan #statenisland #upstate #longislang #community #service #give #workingtogether #cometogether #thankyou #givingthanks
In order to distribute the supplies, Ramos had to get creative, as some pantries and shelters weren’t accepting donations like before due to COVID-19 regulations.
She decided the best way to distribute the items would be by creating groups to walk the streets of Manhattan with her.
Ramos tapped friends Brittany Ramos and Pamela Denkiewicz to help her distribute products weeks ago, but still has more to go.
“While we did hand out a lot of them, there was a ton of homeless in the city and I couldn’t hit them all. And then when I got all of these donations, I wanted to get these out to as many people as possible, but asked myself how do I do that?” she said. “It was like 8 a.m., I was driving to work, and I came up with the idea to send separate teams to Manhattan.”
Ramos and her friends are creating groups to help with the task, and are still looking for volunteers. Those interested in helping can reach out to her via Instagram: @missny_qcoth.
In the last few months, homeless people across New York City have faced mixed messages from city officials and disparaging comments from community members — particularly as it pertains to homeless shelters in the Upper West Side.
But Ramos said people often forget homeless people are just people.
“They still have feelings, dreams, hopes and they want to accomplish something,” she said. “Most times when I’m doing these walks, one of the most asked questions is, ‘Do you know where can I find a job?’ or ‘Do you know who’s hiring?’ or ‘Do you know where I can go to get shelter or food?’ They’re really just asking for basic needs, they want to provide for themselves. So I think there is an assumption that people choose to be homeless, and that’s simply not the case.”
Ramos hopes to continue this work, and is already prepping for her annual winter clothing drive as well.
“The homeless community is really fantastic because if they see you handing out something, they’ll actually let everybody else that they know is in need know,” Ramos said. “They’re a really tight knit community, and not a lot of people know that.”