Most of the time, he’ll be helping out making sure that there is enough parking for a public event sponsored by the Diocese. He makes sure all the “No Parking” signs are in place. He drives a reporter to a story should he or she need a ride. He picks up a guest who might need a ride to the studio. Willie is our man on the scene. Ask and Willie will take care of it for you. He watches all the little things that otherwise could fall through the cracks.
But what he did last weekend was simply extraordinary.
It was the day that the Diocese was honoring married couples who were celebrating significant wedding anniversaries. Bishop DiMarzio was officiating at the ceremony held at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral in Prospect Heights. (Our coverage of that event begins on Page 1 and continues on Page 10.)
As the ceremony came to an end, the members of the large congregation went downstairs for refreshments. But Willie noticed one young man sitting in the back of church, his hands shaking, making no move to leave.
“Are you all right?” asked Willie.
“I just want to be alone,” said the young man.
“Are you hungry?” asked Willie.
“Yes,” said the young man.
Willie went down to the party in the church’s undercroft and got some cookies and coffee and brought them to the apparently distraught teen.
According to Willie, the young man devoured the cookies, which is when Willie realized something was not right. He asked two young police officers stationed outside the co-cathedral if they would talk to the fellow.
Sensing the same thing that Willie did, the officers called in a report and asked that the young man, who gave his name as Jason Ramos, be checked out.
Sure enough, the name matched a missing 18-year-old from Atlanta, Ga., last seen boarding a bus en route to his grandparents’ home in Rhode Island.
As the story goes, Ramos, who is five-nine and 145 pounds, got off the bus at Manhattan’s Port Authority, got something to eat and felt disoriented. He couldn’t find the bus, started walking the streets, eventually crossing over the Brooklyn Bridge and into the Borough of Churches.
He had been in and out of church food kitchens, sleeping in the streets, until coming to St. Joseph’s on Pacific St. He told the police that the only place he felt safe was inside a church.
After the proper ID’s were checked, police took the young man to Kings County Hospital for a check-up. As The Tablet goes to press, police sources tell us that Ramos is still under evaluation at Kings County Hospital.
Ramos is getting the help he needs. It’s because a guy named “Willie” couldn’t walk past a stranger who looked like he was in pain.
“Willie is a good guy. He works hard for us,” said Vincent LeVien, director of external affairs for DeSales. “But, most of all, he has a big heart and cares about people. He could have looked the other way or not engage this boy. But he didn’t, and did the right thing to help.”
Which goes to prove, as LeVien points out, someone can make a difference by simply stopping and asking someone if he needs help.