Photo courtesy of Ramona

Ramona’s Story: Helping Her Grandmother, Her Community, and Herself Survive the Coronavirus Crisis

The community activist and small business owner battles the emotional and financial toll of the pandemic

Ramona Ferreyra is a community activist and small business owner committed to making a difference in the Bronx neighborhood where she lives. From sourcing masks for essential workers to bringing medicine to sick neighbors, Ramona has used her skills as a community organizer to help everyone around her ride out the COVID-19 crisis. But for Ramona to be able to aid others, she needs support herself.

Ramona and her grandmother, 89, live together in a one-bedroom apartment. Chronic health issues have made it impossible for Ramona to work in most traditional jobs, so they rely on sales from Ramona’s clothing business, Ojala Threads (baby and children’s clothes inspired by her Hispanic heritage) and some government support to survive. But with the COVID-19 crisis, Ramona’s sales have dropped dramatically, and she had to cancel all her pop-up events. Ramona and her grandmother’s food stamps ran out weeks ago, and their situation was beginning to feel dire.

“One of the frustrating things about the work that I do in the community is that there is a system set up where you are expected to do the work because you know it’s important, but you’re not paid for it,” said Ramona.

Ramona loves the activism work that she does, but it doesn’t support her financially. With direct support from Andrew Yang and Humanity Forward through a partnership between Neighborhood Trust and SaverLife, Ramona received a direct $1,000 payment to help her feel a little more secure and get back to doing what she does best: building a better future for her community.

“[The payment] was life-changing,” said Ramona.

Ramona used some of the funds to make two credit card payments to pay down some of her debt. She also plans to invest in some Google and Facebook ads for Ojala Threads, a marketing strategy she couldn’t afford before. The rest of her payment she put in the bank, to help her and her grandmother ride out the next few months of the crisis.

It was also important to Ramona to purchase small items, like essentials for her pets — her dog Brownie and her rabbit — and some supplies to make things a little easier for her and her grandmother, including a new can opener and a steam mop. “They’re small things, but they mean a lot. They’re a super big deal.”

“At a time like this, when we have lost three neighbors just in this building…I am already so emotionally exhausted that with the added weight of being poor, there was a time that I wasn’t sure I was going to make it through this because of the financial pressure. And that $1,000, for someone who is used to living on $190 a month–that will last me like three months. For me, this is like a quarterly investment. Look at everything I can accomplish with that money.”

TrustPlus is expanding our financial coaching services and providing critical resources to protect workers and families impacted financially by COVID-19. Learn more about our relief efforts here.




For nearly 25 years, our nonprofit social enterprise has been empowering workers to take control of their finances through financial coaching. Now we’re bringing our expertise to employers who want to support their workers’ financial health.

Recommended from Medium


Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


TrustPlus is a financial wellness benefit that eases everyday money worries with personal coaching and action-oriented tools and products.

More from Medium

Emily Robison of the [Dixie] Chicks