Camden, N.J.– Since February 2022, while serving in the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Community Outreach and Engagement Unit (COE), Karelie Nogueras has had the incredible opportunity to share with our community her life experiences as a Hispanic-American.
Karelie believes that Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to highlight the culture, history, achievements and contributions made in the United States by those of Hispanic heritage. She also believes that Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to continue to be proud of who we are and where we come from, while positively influencing the generations to come. “It means being appreciative of the hard work and sacrifices our parents and the generations before, they made huge sacrifices for us so that we would have better opportunities in the future. Our core values include our family and faith, and without those I would not be who I am today. I am very proud of my Puerto Rican heritage,” Karelie said.
Karelie said her life experiences have served as great preparation for sharing her story with others, especially in those communities within Camden County where our Hispanic populations are rising. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, between 2010 and 2021 the most significant growth in Camden County was in our Hispanic/Latino population which grew by 4.2% to 18.5% of the County’ total population. “I am able to relate to the Spanish speaking members of our community, they truly appreciate the fact that I can communicate with them in Spanish, it opens the door to great conversations and connections,” said Karelie.
“I am in a purposeful position that assists me in my personal development to demonstrate the love of God through the COE Unit’s acts of service. I truly enjoy being able to connect law enforcement and the community with amazing local non-profits, faith-based organizations and businesses that serve the citizens of Camden County. We are here to make connections and link all members of our community to services. Those services range from nutritional needs to housing and from substance abuse resources to employment opportunities. But sometimes the most important thing we can do is take the time to listen! Many members of our community just want to be heard and want to know that someone cares. And we do exactly that! We are committed to prevention and intervention, while at the same time focusing on equity and inclusion. We link people to opportunities and these opportunities give them hope,” Karelie said.
Karelie said that her older sister Stephanie, who was born deaf, is a huge inspiration for the work she does every day through COE. Karelie is trilingual and her first learned language before Spanish and English was American Sign Language (ASL).
“My sister faced many obstacles her entire life due to the language barrier and a lack of resources, as well as a lack of inclusion and awareness in our community. The way Stephanie’s career path has unfolded for her, she has been able to have a platform where she can connect with individuals world-wide,” said Karelie. “During my sister’s personal time, she is an amazing advocate from the deaf community. She navigates, educates and encourages people with any disability to overcome their obstacles,” she said. Karelie recited this quote for us, “Be the person you needed when you were younger.” Karelie said her sister has done exactly that, not just for herself, but for other individuals in our community and beyond.
Now Karelie is continuing this same work in our community though COE and hopes to inspire others to join in serving our community.
“My sister is my inspiration when it comes to me being an influence in our community. It’s personal for me, I am assisting those individuals in our community who may be underrepresented. I have been blessed with the opportunity to do this both through work and during my personal time. It is an amazing feeling to give back to my community and to help others in need,” said Karelie.