The Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that was created shortly after the executions of NYPD police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu in 2014. Both men were posthumously promoted to detectives first grade. Ramos was also named honorary department chaplain. The foundation was created and led for its first five years by Rafael‘s widow Maritza Ramos. The foundation has made it its mission to ensure that the first interaction a young person has with a police officer is a positive one. With that in mind, they have created several initiatives that include an annual backpack drive, that to date has collected and distributed more than 5000 backpacks, and an annual toy drive which has collected and distributed thousands of gifts for children.
Now, the foundation has a new president. The board voted unanimously to name board member J.W. Cortes the group’s new leader. You may have seen Cortes in his role as Detective Carlos Alvarez on the hit TV series Gotham or perhaps as Todd Palin’s partner on the reality show Stars Earn Stripes, but Cortes is actually a real-life hero, too. Cortes is a Marine combat veteran and a longtime New York City police officer. To say the Rafael Ramos Foundation is in great hands, would be an understatement. Cortes is excited about the new challenge.
“The board felt I would be the right person to lead the foundation into the future and I have several ideas and initiatives that I want to introduce to the foundation,” Cortes told Sarah Palin dot com. “I want to expand our current programs to the other parts of New York City and eventually to the tri-state area. I also want to create a curriculum that can be introduced to the Board of Education.”
Founder and former President of the Detective Rafael Ramos Foundation, Maritza Ramos makes a very important announcement. @CommissBratton @NYPDShea @NYCPDDEA @NYPDnews @nypost #NonProfit #LawEnforcement #Philanthropy #NYC #Brooklyn #NeverForget #BeTheChange pic.twitter.com/Lj7NsE1FUI
— JW Cortés (@jwcortes) July 18, 2020
Cortes is taking on his new role with the memory of the fallen officers always in his heart.
“My thoughts on Ramos and Liu are that if you have spent any real time in uniform as I have, then what you start to realize is what happened to those two officers could very easily have happened to me,” Cortes said. “It could have been my children who were burying me and because of the likeliness and high probability that it could’ve happened to me, I must then put myself in a situation and in the mindset that I must do all I can with this opportunity in life and make the most of it.”
All across America, officers just like Ramos and Liu continue to serve and protect all of us despite the realization that the threat of danger always looms.
“Because I still continue to live, and those two gentlemen were not afforded that same opportunity, I must give back in their name,” said Cortes. “Many times people say that they sacrificed their lives, but I don’t believe that. I don’t believe they sacrificed their lives. Instead, their lives were taken from them. I say that because I know that they were God-fearing men who absolutely adored their families and would’ve wanted to do everything possible to return back to them.”
Ramos’ widow has done an incredible job leading the foundation and the new president realizes he has huge shoes to fill.
“Over the past number of years that I have been involved in the foundation, I have been very impressed with how professional and how determined Maritza Ramos has been,” Cortes said. “I can never imagine what it must be like for her to have to rehash over and over again the most horrific day of her life and yet she continues to do so because she understands that her leadership, her example is an inspiration to not only us as board members but also to the city of New York and to all widows across the world. She has been a light and a source of tremendous empathy and love. I hope that through my work as president of the foundation, I will make her proud and carry out her mission while strengthening the legacy of these two great men.”
While board members and those directly involved with the Rafael Ramos Foundation are doing their best to move initiatives forward, the public can play a big role as well.
“We’re always open to volunteers and donations,” Cortes said. “If folks want to get involved, all they have to do is visit our web site. They can make a donation knowing that every single penny collected goes back to our initiatives. No one, including myself, receives a single penny for the work we do. We do so out of love and out of a sense of pride and purpose.”
A perfect sentiment considering the great purpose Ramos and Liu lived their lives with each and every day.
The foundation’s purpose embodies the character and values of Rafael Ramos. The Foundation seeks to: Raise awareness as it pertains to the dangers faced by law enforcement officers in the course of their daily work; Educate community members to lessen tensions and distrust and to improve the relationship between neighborhoods and law enforcement; and provide financial assistance to families of slain law enforcement personnel that suddenly find themselves in financially distressed situations. Through education, outreach, and community activities, the foundation seeks to raise social awareness of the dangers faced by law enforcement officers and to develop positive relationships between communities and the law enforcement officers who work in them on a regular basis.
The Rafael Ramos Foundation shines a light on all the good that is done on a daily basis by the overwhelming amount of police officers in New York and across the country. Heinous acts by a few, will not deter the positive promotion of our wonderful, hero cops.
“Our message to all of our police officers is quite simple, every time you leave your homes and kiss your families goodbye we know what it’s like because we also do the same thing,” said Cortes. “While we condemn the acts of those police officers in Minneapolis, Minnesota, we know because we stand amongst the ranks, that the majority of police officers set out to do the right thing every single day. We know it because we’ve seen it and because many of our members have done it. We will continue to serve with honor and pride and we believe that the only way we can bring back the peace that we had long enjoyed, is by bringing members of police departments and the members of society together to the table to find out from them what it is that they need. Then we can restore peace and order. This is no longer a singular approach. I believe for a long time it hasn’t been, but if that is the perception, then we must do whatever we can to change it and remind people that together we can bring about real change that is lasting and effective.”
The Rafael Ramos Foundation has a new president set to lead the group into the future. They have the right man for the job.
To learn more visit https://www.detectiverafaelramos.org/
Follow Kevin Scholla on Twitter @kevinscholla