St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society
Rosa Ramirez moved from Puerto Rico to Camden, NJ with her family in the early 1950s at a time when “Latinos were seen and not heard.” She became a community activist and leader from a young age and has inspired a generation of Latino leaders in the city. Ramirez was involved in the early days of St. Joseph’s Carpenter Society and has been a board member for 24 years. Her accomplishments include developing a vision for Camden that led to the Camden Recovery Act and helping to bring community policing, the Camden Home Improvement Program, and over 900 units of affordable housing to Camden.
“My community and I have worked very hard, and I accept this award not in my name, but in the name of the people that have worked so hard with the Carpenter Society. I am very proud of this award, but when I come back home, I want to go back and tell the people in Camden, 'this is what we got, our work was recognized!', and that means a lot to me and to our neighbors.”
Laconia Area Community Land Trust
Edith "Edie" DesMarais moved to Wolfeboro, NH in the late 1960s and has been an active community leader and volunteer there for 45 years. In 1973, after a community survey determined a pressing need for quality affordable day care services, DesMarais and a small group of local women stepped forward and eventually founded the nonprofit Wolfeboro Area Children’s Center. Today, the center is the area's tenth largest employer, providing local employment and economic benefits in a rural area. It has served more than 5,000 families and more than 7,000 children. DesMarais next turned her attention to the quality of affordable housing. Over several years, she helped build regional support to change zoning and land use laws that blocked the creation of affordable housing. Edie also founded the Eastern Lakes Affordable Housing Coalition and successfully raised $250,000 in donations to secure land for their first housing project.
“My community is important to me because I live here and I love its people and how they are willing to work together to improve it. I raised my children here, and appreciate the education they received, and how they feel safe and learn from the people around.”