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Rafael Flores In Remembrance

By Jose B. Rivera

Raphael Antonio Flores (1947-2003)image

When the son of man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right. Come, you who are blessed by my father take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me. Mathew 25: 31-36

He was the Ralph who cared.

He’d travel to the ends of the earth to help souls in need.

Raphael Antonio Flores was born March 10, 1947. His mother Carmen Delia Araujo Flores keeps the fondest memories of his childhood. At about 8 years old Ralph was attached to his little red wagon. He took it everywhere with him. He would carry it up the five flights of stairs of 1559 Lexington Ave, the tenement where he grew up in El Barrio right between 99 and 100 Street. He brought it down the stairs to help his mom carry bags home from the supermarket to his mom, he will always be the little boy with his red wagon. Even up to his last days Raphael and his mom had such a closeness. She became his personal secretary taking care of all the papers and things he carried around with him just like he did in his little red wagon.

Ralph is also survived by his father Vladimiro Flores who like Raphael was a man who stood tall, broad and proud in stature. His brothers and sisters were Richie, Vladimiro, Jr. also known as “Blado”, Orlando, Paula, Juana and Ramona. Each had a special place in Ralph’s heart who they affectionately called “Fello.” In addition, to simply being their “Bro” Orlando recalls they always had good times as kids as long as Ralph stayed on his sloppy side of the room. Juana remembers how Fello was always ready to help anyone who asked.

As Ralph takes his journey with the lord, he leaves us his favorite person in the whole world. His beautiful daughter Monique who had many special moments including achieving a recent dream her dad always had for her to earn her Master’s degree and graduate from college which was just days before his passing. Working side by side with Monique and raising their two beautiful children is Ralph’s son in law Mike. Ralph’s grandchildren Sean and Madison were yet another joy in Ralph’s life. He loved spending time with them and making them laugh.

Additionally, Ralph was survived by several cousins, nieces, nephews and hundreds of friends and adopted family members who each shared special times with him.

Ralph enlisted in the United States Army in 1966 where he served as a SPEC4 (a specialist in equipment repair and inventory). He was stationed in Colorado and then over 15 months in Fairbanks, Alaska, which happened to be where his brother Richie was working on the pipeline. Ralph received an honorary discharge in 1968.

One of Ralph’s loves was his Barrio. The land he loved so much. Ralph loved everything about El Barrio.the cafe con leche, the congas playing on hot summer days, even the six floor walk up to his old apartment on 105 street and let’s not forget to mention the brick walls. To Ralph this was nature and the great outdoors.

While Ralph was not one to sit in a classroom, he did eventually take various college courses and certifications in substance abuse treatment and counseling. Raphael graduated from Harran High School and always boasted how he had perfect attendance. He also attended Commander Shea right on 111 Street a school he was so proud to be a part of. But no degrees or certifications could put a value on the vast amount of information and knowledge he had when it came to getting down to the nitty gritty in helping people and doing what no one was doing touching the hearts of people! Helping people right where they were, not behind a desk. He made countless trips to escort drug addicted teens to out of state drug treatment facilities to get clean; walked for miles to help someone find housing; or spent nights and days counseling and listening to homeless HIV positive people deal with the realities of getting medical care or shelter. So Ralph may not have had a PhD from Harvard or Yale but hands down he was the Doctor of Crisis Intervention, the Master of Counseling, the Professor of Substance Abuse Treatment, the Dean of Streetwork Outreach and the Rhodes Scholar of Eliminating Red Tape.

Not a story could be told about Raphael Flores without mentioning his compassion for others. In the 1970s Ralph founded and was the executive director for more than 25 years of the first and only crisis intervention center run by youth and for youth. He, along with a group of teenagers from El Barrio created Hot Line Cares in response to the growing need for drug addicted youth to gain access into drug treatment programs. Raphael led the way and for many years Hot Line Cares using a youth development through youth involvement approach helped thousands find drug treatment and become drug free; counseled hundreds of runaways who gained access to housing; removed red tape allowing many people to get medical care, entitlement services or simply a hot meal. Raphael paved the way for new corridors for poor people to get services. He touched so many lives broke up so many bureaucratic channels and set trends in human services in so many ways. As a result Raphael leaves behind an incredible legacy in the volunteers, staff, clients and board members of Hotline who were also called “la familia,” a term Ralph used often when talking about the people Hotline touched.

Unlike anyone else we’ll ever meet in our lifetime, Raphael believed with all his heart that anything was possible; he had a childlike enthusiasm; was authentic in character and always said what he believed. He took tireless action to help others and loved people endlessly.

Raphael was a believer.

He believed in the lord, in El Barrio, in its people, in salsa, in Hotline, in helping others, in good cuchifrito, in laughing, in crying, in listening, in praying, and most of all He believed in you.
Raphael Antonio Flores
La Pana Del Barrio
We’ll miss you

To my loving Father
from Monique Flores

My father was a man who gave his life for others, putting his needs to the side. As a child growing up all I knew was my father’s work at Hot Line Cares the countless days and nights that were spent helping people in need. He had a certain charisma about him, one that drew people to him. He had a way of making people laugh.

I will never forget my father for he taught me how to love others and put God first. To never forget who I am and to always give back.

Dad was a dedicated man not only to his work but to his family as well. I truly believe he was a godsend to people in need and now god has called him back home to continue his journey.

Dad, your work, dedication, and perseverance will never be forgotten. The many lives you touched, make you alive in us everyday.

The love he shared with his grandchildren Sean & Madi will forever be an imprint on who they become when they grow up.

You dad, are one of the very few people who get a chance in life to know their purpose and to truly be remembered forever. I have been blessed to have you as my father and best friend whose memory and purpose will always live within me.

So friends and loved ones do not be saddened by his departure. Let’s celebrate the life of my dad for he would not want any of us to grieve, but to rejoice for he is with our heavenly lord. He’s only resting and I look to the day when we will be together again.

Te Quiero,


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