A Story of the Puerto Rican Action Board (New Jersey) and Two Committed Staff Members
New Brunswick, NJ., November, 2010-The Puerto Rican Action Board (PRAB) had modest beginnings around volunteer efforts to provide adult English classes to recently arrived migrants to the New Brunswick area. By the middle of the 1970s the PRAB was established as the first full time bilingual/ multilingual curriculum daycare Center for children ages 2 ½ to 5 in NJ. Since that time the PRAB has expanded and intensified its efforts to improve local neighborhoods by providing: child care, youth development, job training and placement opportunities, housing counseling, rehabilitation, construction and weatherization of homes, community advocacy, and community development activities.
The PRAB is important as an example of the change that nonprofits can make in a community. The Global Literacy Project became aware of the PRAB’s outreach to low income children in the community several years ago and began an initiative whereby three times per year new books were donated to all the children participating in the daycare and kindergarten programs. In the last two years, in response to feedback from Joyce Chase, Director of Education, and Site Directors Darshna Amarnani and Adriana Crosby, that the children could benefit from interaction with native English speakers GLP piloted a reading program in 17 classes across the city. The program was well received and in the Fall of 2010 GLP won a grant from the Verizon Foundation to expand the reading initiative at one site, the daycare facility where Site Director Shari Boyington had a number of exciting ideas. The “Take Reading Home” program brings students from Rutgers University to read to the children via a series of structured phonics books that build reading and oral skills. The books are matched with a software program that reproduces the book as a game. The students then receive smaller versions of the books to take home and read to their parents or other family members.
Much of the Puerto Rican Action Board’s daycare’s success is due to its committed staff, some whom have worked with the PRAB for over 20 years. When the Daycare Site Director Shari Boyington was recently tapped to head up a much larger program within the PRAB system—right at the beginning of the school year—new Site Director Patricia Hernandez had an impotant resource for easing the transition, i.e., two stalwart PRAB members who have been integral to the daycare program since its creation, Ms. Gloria Nuñez and Ms. Carmen Ortiz-Adorno.
Ms. Gloria Nuñez has been a part of the Puerto Rican Action Board’s staff for 28 years. She began working with the Puerto Rican Action Board as a volunteer while attending high school. She recalls working as a teacher’s aid and three years later she became a teacher. All of her teaching experience has come from working with the Puerto Rican Action Board. She came to the United States from Puerto Rico so she can relate to obstacles that non-English speakers face when attempting to learn the English language for the first time.
Ms. Carmen Ortiz-Adorno has been a part of the Puerto Rican Action Board for 26 ½ years. Like Ms. Nuñez she began working in the Puerto Rican Action Board as a teacher’s assistant and later became a teacher. She has stated that when she began working with the Puerto Rican Action Board she had great mentors that opened her interest inworking with children. Ms. Ortiz-Adorno reflected on the fact that when the Puerto Rican Action Board first opened its doors the student population was mostly Latino but as the New Brunswick community has became aware of the daycare center and it’s commitment to assisting anyone with need, the daycare population has become as diverse as the city’s population.
Both Ms. Gloria Nuñez and Ms. Carmen Ortiz- Adorno have seen the changes that the daycare has undergone. They recall when the Puerto Rican Action Board was housed in one building but now it has three different locations. One pre-school is located on Drift Street, another on Townsend Street and the daycare is on Somerset Street. The committed vision of the Puerto Rican Action Board brings hope to the New Brunswick community and with its committed staff devoted to educating the future leaders of the New Brunswick community the future is full of possibilities.
For more information on the Puerto Rican Action Board visit: