East Mountain resident a tireless community volunteer
Her family and friends often wonder when she finds time to sleep and Ruby Sarmiento Amog wouldn’t have it any other way.
“To me it is your responsibility to give back and make this country great,” said the 61-year-old retired nurse and advocate for the elderly and women and children in Hamilton.
She figures she spends 50-60 hours a week on advocacy-related work like attending meetings, contacting sponsors, planning events, working on her home computer (often into the small hours of the morning) or making a phone call on behalf of a senior or someone else who is unsure of how to navigate their way through the maze of community services.
“If I lose this I’m really dead,” joked Sarmiento Amog, referring to her BlackBerry that contains cell phone numbers and other information about her numerous community contacts that is seldom far from her grasp.
Through 35 years of nursing with Hamilton Health Sciences, Sarmiento Amog has amassed a huge network of contacts in and knowledge about the healthcare, business and social services communities that she is always willing to bring to the table to assist a community group or someone in need.
She is currently involved with a variety of organizations including the Immigrant Culture and Art Association, Canadian Club of Hamilton, Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Veterans Association, Institute for Canadian Citizenship (Mohawk College chapter), United Filipino Canadian Seniors Association of Hamilton, Hamilton Police Service, Hindu Heritage Centre, Interval House, Hamilton-Wentworth Heritage Association and the Philippine Basketball Association of Hamilton.
Her previous involvement includes the Zonta Club of Hamilton II, YWCA Non Profit Housing Corporation, Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre, Hamilton Filipino Community Centre, Catholic Women’s League and Hamilton Community Living.
Sarmiento Amog said for many of those groups she was the first Filipino member.
She unsuccessfully sought the federal Liberal nomination on Hamilton Mountain several years ago.
Even with all of the volunteer work, the married mother of an adult daughter devouts a lot of time to her family and it’s not uncommon to see her mother Rosephine accompany her to her many meetings and appointments.
Sarmiento Amog said her desire to help others was drilled into her at a young age by her parents back in the Philippines, where she grew up speaking English.
“It’s very common in the Philippines, especially with the affluent families, they speak English form the time of birth,” said Sarmiento Amog who studied nursing in her native country before coming to Chedoke Hospital on the west Mountain as a 21-year-old around 1973.
She had originally intended to work at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, but changed her destination to Hamiltonwhen an aunt living here found out she was planning to come to Canada.
Sarmiento Amog said it was while working at the Chedoke Child and Family Centre that she began to see the need for social services in Hamilton and it was there she began more than three decades of advocacy work in the city.
She began by sitting on various hospital committees and it wasn’t long before her desire to serve the community led her to other local organizations.
In 2004 and 2005 she helped organize Mother’s Day telethons.
Never afraid to speak her mind, Sarmiento Amog noted most of the boards and organizations she has worked with have sought her assistance and she has little time for groups that don’t move forward.
“I’m a result-oriented person and if there’s no result, bye bye, I move on to the next one,” she said.
Clare Freeman, executive director at Interval House noted Sarmiento Amog is someone who likes to get things done.
“You can always send her an email at three in the morning because she’s working on things,” Freeman said.
“She’s very much a go-getter,” added Joanne Echlin, past president of the Canadian Club of Hamilton.
Among her current projects, Sarmiento Amog is working on the second annual fundraising gala for the Immigrant Culture and Art Association that will be held at Carmen’s on March 27 and the annual Christmas party for the United Filipino Canadian Seniors Association of Hamilton in November.
Her many awards include the 2012 Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.