Community Service: Robert Ramerez
Community Services at Columbia St. Mary’s
Robert Ramerez has been delivering health care services for more than 12 years, in both clinical and administrative settings. When he met with Bill Solberg, director of community services at Columbia St. Mary’s, approximately three years ago, he knew he wanted to be a part of what the organization was doing.
“I really took to heart the wonderful things that Bill and his team were doing in the community,” Ramerez said. “I wanted to work for an organization and grow and expand these programs to make them even better than they already were.”
Ramerez was instrumental in growing the Columbia St. Mary’s Urban Church Wellness initiative from 30 churches to nearly 95.
Through the initiative, Columbia St. Mary’s provides general health education; screenings; outreach; nursing services; hypertension and diabetes control and prevention education; nutrition education; and even low-cost medication services in churches throughout the community.
“Our logic is that these are already places where people are coming together. They are coming here for fellowship and healing. Why not focus on holistic health and provide the community with these additional resources as well?” Ramerez asked.
The Urban Church Wellness initiative now serves more than 15,000 people in need each year.
To further the organization’s mission of nutrition education, Ramerez also helped establish a diabetic-friendly and healthy option food pantry at the Ebenezer Church of God in Christ in Milwaukee.
The Ebenezer food pantry provides a necessary source of healthy food options for the underserved.
Through partnerships with Hunger Task Force and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, the pantry served 434 households and 968 individuals in October, Ramerez said.
“It’s an absolute necessity for so many people in the community,” he said. While there, patrons can also take advantage of educational opportunities, including health education, oral health screenings and healthy cooking demonstrations.
“It’s about drawing people in and educating everyone on how to make healthy choices with what’s available to them,” he said.
Additionally, Ramerez is charged with leading St. Ben’s Clinic for the homeless, which serves nearly 3,000 of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable each year.
“I grew up in a poverty-stricken area,” he said. “I know firsthand how hard it can be if you don’t have easy access to medical care, healthy foods or other resources. My role here has brought me full circle, it’s very rewarding to be able to use my skillsets and knowledge to give back.”