Woman honored for volunteer work
Published: March 2, 2006 | 3648th good news item since 2003
In terms of physical distance, there is a wide gulf separating Doris Crocker from Haiti — about 1,500 miles of it. But when it comes to helping people, the world is a lot smaller.
Crocker is executive director of New Jersey-Haiti Partnership of Partners of the Americas, and a recipient of the Partners of the Americas International Lifetime Achievement Award. She has been involved in the organization, first peripherally, then directly, since it was founded by her husband, Clinton, in 1976.
“They always say that Partners is the best kept secret,” she said.
Unlike other international volunteer organizations, Partners doesn’t just dole out money, Crocker said. Working in conjunction with its sister organization in Haiti, the Haiti-New Jersey Partnership, the group has developed over the years a variety of exchange programs providing training in areas such as agriculture and public health.
“There’s something very special about Doris,” Susan Rosenberg, president of New Jersey-Haiti Partners, said. “She is very soft-spoken, but she’s a giant of a person.”
The group has a core membership of about 20, Crocker said. But in keeping with its name, Partners works with several other organizations that deal with Haitians either in America or still on the island.
A social worker by profession, she worked for 25 years in the Tinton Falls and Eatontown school districts before retiring in 1991.
“At least one of the number one problems is lack of education,” she said. “There are not enough schools for the population.”
Some 48 percent of Haitians are illiterate, she said, and many of the country’s poorest children do not attend school.
Though neither she nor her husband are Haitian, Crocker said she has always been interested in international relations, and her work with Partners has taken her throughout much of the Western Hemisphere. She is also a member of Province II of the Episcopal Church USA, in which she serves as the chairwoman of the Haiti Network.
Her international involvement doesn’t stop there though. When she joined Delta Sigma Theta Sorority’s Monmouth County Alumnae Chapter, she got involved with its International Awareness and Involvement Committee.
Describing Crocker as gracious and detail-oriented, Rosenberg said Crocker is a vital part of Partners’ success.
“If it weren’t for Doris Crocker, I couldn’t do what I do,” she said. “Nobody works alone in an organization. I feel it’s a privilege to work with her.”