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South Florida Sun-Sentinel
PROFESA Celebrates 2nd Anniversary
By Lori Sykes
October 17, 2001
After moving to Weston from Puerto Rico more than a year ago, Ronald Ramirez sought to keep in touch with his roots.
He had been active in networking organizations on his native island, so he decided to join the Puerto Rican Professional Association of South Florida.
"It is important to maintain [Puerto Rican] culture within our environment on a family and social level," said Ramirez, a board member of PROFESA. "This way people can understand what Puerto Rican culture is all about."
With its two-year anniversary coming up this month, PROFESA offers members the opportunity to network, participate in cultural activities and help other Puerto Ricans here and abroad. The nonprofit organization has about 150 members in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.
During its second anniversary dance and award banquet to be held Saturday in Miami, the group will celebrate its successes, such as donating a wheelchair for an 11-year-old Puerto Rican boy with encephalitis/meningitis.
At the event, members and nonmembers will be recognized for their efforts to further the organization's three focuses: culture, empowerment and networking.
"Our goal is to gain better visibility of our Puerto Rican community and establish a venue where people can be more active in the community," said Raúl Duany, chairman of PROFESA.
To show its support for the Puerto Rican community, the organization has taken on several causes. The group's golf tournament raised $1,000, which was donated in August to the Open Door Health Clinic and the Puerto Ricans for Community Service Fund. The clinic offers quality medical services to uninsured and impoverished people in Homestead.
Another effort, Duany said, helped a 49-year-old woman who had triple-bypass surgery return home to Puerto Rico to be with her mother and children.
PROFESA is in the process of joining forces with Aspira, a program that helps about 2,500 at-risk teenagers by focusing on leadership skills and the importance of finishing high school. In the future, PROFESA members may volunteer to mentor teenagers through Aspira and donate back-to-school supplies.
Nyrsa Zayas and her husband, Ramiro Malagon, moved to Miramar from Puerto Rico two years ago. They wanted to meet people with their same background and culture.
"We don't have a lot of friends yet, so we joined PROFESA for a social purpose," Zayas said.
Wanda Williams, a Pembroke Pines resident, has been a member of PROFESA for about two years. She said she joined because it is important to unite with people from her ethnic background.
"I hear about the Cuban community; they are very united," she said. "It seems like they are the only ones doing things here in South Florida. Our goal is to let people know we are here and we want to do something for the community."
Cooper City resident Evelyn Mercado has not had a chance to be as involved with the organization as she would like since joining about a year ago.
"I became a member because I wanted to keep in touch with my heritage even though I live here," she said. "I am interested in helping the Puerto Rican community and have been in contact with a lot of Puerto Ricans who also want to help the island."
For more information about PROFESA, visit www.profesa.org.