WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A West Palm Beach school community is coming together to support a family that's gone through an unimaginable and tragic couple of months.
Despite the obstacles the Ramos-Ramirez family now faces, their children's school is rallying around them.
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"You don't know how hard it is. You don't believe it until it happens in the family," said mother Zoila Ramirez.
Speaking to WPTV through a translator on Monday, Ramirez talked about going through the most difficult time in her life.
"I have bills to pay. Rent, food, and it's not easy with my five boys," Ramirez said.
Hospitalized with a severe case of COVID-19, Ramirez had to deliver her baby girl more than 10 weeks early.
After two months, the newborn is now home from the hospital.
"The pediatrician says she's doing much better," Ramirez said.
But the tough times continued for this close-knit family.
Ramirez's husband Reynaldo also suffered from COVID-19 and tragically passed away in the hospital less than two weeks ago.
They didn't get to say goodbye.
"I am very happy to have my baby home, but it's very hard that my husband is not here anymore," Ramirez said. "He was the support. He was the head of the household. So now I'm not sure what's coming after this."
After having five boys, the couple was excited to add a baby girl to the family.
"We both were very happy that we were having a little girl, a baby girl. He wanted to see her and he didn't get a chance," Ramirez said.
"Our teachers look at the community as an extension of them, how can they serve their community," said Dr. Patricia Ordonez-Feliciano, the principal at West Gate Elementary School in West Palm Beach where three of the family's boys go to school.
Ordonez-Feliciano said that when the school got word of what was happening in the family, they knew they wanted to help.
"It doesn't just have to be the academics. It's the social and emotional needs, as well as anything they can do to make sure their basic needs are met," Ordonez-Feliciano said.
"We had no idea the outpouring of love that our teachers and community of our teachers would have," said Jennifer Mooney, the assistant principal at West Gate Elementary School.
Mooney led the collection effort, raising $2,000 in cash and dozens of donations for the family, like Easter baskets, to make their lives just a little brighter.
"It's just an overwhelming feeling, looking at everything as a community, as a school community. Our teachers, not just themselves, but their families and their communities donated to the family," Ordonez-Feliciano said.
The family has a long and difficult road ahead, but with the community's arms wrapped around them, they'll pull through.
"I'm grateful for what the school is doing, what West Gate is doing for me," Ramirez said. "God put that on their hearts to give me that support."
If you'd like to help support the Ramos-Ramirez family, contact West Gate Elementary School at 561-684-7101 or Assistant Principal Jennifer Mooney at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the family as well. To donate, click here.