Born in Puerto Rico, in 1933, Ramon S. Velez dedicated his life to serving the underprivileged.
The direct results of his leadership and vision are manifest throughout the South Bronx: the Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center; the implementation of bilingual education in the New York City School System, the registration of more than 500,000 Spanish-speaking voters following the abolition of discriminatory language requirements; Eugenio Maria de Hostos Community College; more than twenty-five thousand new or renovated apartment units, including three senior citizens' residences; and the Hunts Point Multi-Service Center, Inc., HPMSC a network of health clinics, mental health programs, drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation services and innovative Day Care and Head Start Centers. Together, annually provides services to more than twenty-five thousand minority residents of the poorest congressional district in the United States of America.
Ramon Velez's commitment to children has been a driving force throughout his career. As the third son of a poor but self-sufficient farming family, he credits his father with instilling his work standard and desire for education and his mother with the formation of his strong religious and ethical beliefs. He has tried to pass on these lessons to the underprivileged children of the South Bronx. As Mr. Velez learned as a school teacher in Puerto Rico, pride in oneself; one's family and cultural heritage are essential to the development of a happy and successful child.
Mr. Velez has promoted the interests of poor minority communities since the 1960's. He was an integral force in the creation of the Neighborhood Service Programs and the Model Cities Program. He is committed to the empowerment of community residents, the preservation and rehabilitation of quality affordable housing and the prevention of homelessness. Mr. Velez has served as a Member of the City Council of New York City and as an appointee to Presidential Task Forces.
Ramon S. Velez believes strongly in the dignity of every individual. With the adoption of welfare reform by the state and federal governments, he has directed his energies toward the creation of a comprehensive strategy targeting the needs of those members of our communities who have not been able, due to drug addiction, alcoholism, insufficient education, and/or lack of marketable skills, to participate in the workforce. To this end, he has created the South Bronx School of Technology, which will allow people who have overcome their disabilities to acquire GED certificates and vocational skills.
In 1995, Mr. Velez, as President of HPMSC, created the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc., drawing upon forty years of success with the New York Puerto Rican Day Parade. The National Puerto Rican Day Parade is committed to the creation of the next generation of Hispanic leaders, by promoting the development of self esteem through education, economic development and the strengthening of the family. Parade activities continue with the formation of local chapters throughout the U.S., replicating the cultivation of children's self esteem and worth across the Country. In 1997, in conjunction with the New York City Board of Education, Mr. Velez and the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, Inc. created the "1,000 Children Program" which provides mentors, leadership training, community service, and college scholarships for one thousand children of Puerto Rican heritage.
Mr. Velez's service has been recognized by a wide variety of organizations and institutions, including the City of New York, the New York State Assembly and Senate and several Presidents of the United States. He earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History and Political Science from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. The World University of Puerto Rico and the Peoples University of the Americas have honored him with the award of honorary doctorates in Law and American Ethnic Heritage. In June of 1998, Mr. Velez received an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Mercy College of Dobbs Ferry, New York.