Aston Residents Ralph and Camille DeBerardinis Live Their Lives in the Service of Others
By Loretta Rodgers.
The holidays are a time of giving, but for Ralph and Camille Deberardinis, their lives revolve around volunteering and doing good deeds for others all year long.
Residents of Aston Township for 42 years, Ralph and Camille prepare meals for shut-ins and for those who cannot cook for themselves, regularly drive friends and neighbors to the grocery store and doctors appointments, and help their neighbors with yard work and snow removal.
“Helping others makes us feel good,” said Camille. “There are people who really need assistance and as long as Ralph and I are able, we will continue to help them.”
Members of St. Joseph Church in Aston, Ralph is a member of the parish’s Stewardship group, which assists parishioners and others with raking leaves, and minor home repairs, while Camille serves as co-captain of Project Hope, a group dedicated to assisting those in need of transportation. They both volunteer for the Church’s Aid for Friends organization.
The DeBerardinis’ speak highly of their neighbor and friend Fran Cook, crediting her with encouraging them to get involved with the volunteer-based organization.
“We can’t say enough about Fran,” said Ralph. “She is really great and helps a lot of people.”
In addition to their volunteering, the Deberardinis’ are the dedicated parents of six highly successful children and 10 grandchildren. Each of their children has followed in their parents footsteps by choosing service oriented careers. Their eldest child Andrea is an elementary school teacher; Ralph is a pediatrician who also holds a Ph.D and is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwest; Lisa is in the field of banking; Jean hold a master’s degree in nursing; Albert received a Ph.D in chemistry and is doing cancer research at the University of Connecticut; and their youngest child Christine holds a master’s degree in social work and is actively employed in that field.
“We have been blessed with our children,” said Ralph, praising his wife for focusing on education and integrity. “They have really made us very proud parents.”
Ralph, who is retired from Sunoco, was born in Chester and is a 1961 graduate of St. James High School. He was awarded a B.S. in chemistry from Penn Morton College (PMC) in Chester, which is now Widener University.
Camille was born and raised in Altoona, Pa. and worked for a brief period of time in the secretarial pool at the Vertol Company in Chester. The couple met in 1945, married in 1968 and soon thereafter began raising their family.
“For us, teaching our children the right way to treat others and to be respectful was always first and foremost,” said Camille. “We also didn’t allow much television and encouraged our children to read and be outside as much as possible. We just stressed being good and hoped our children would take our advice.”
In addition to their many charitable ventures, the ne near and dear to their hearts is Mother Teresa’s Legacy, which they co-founded with Fran Cook.
Ralph, with the help of his brother Caesar, constructed a red box that sits in the lower level of St. Joseph Church, and parishioners are encouraged to contribute non-perishable food items. The food is donated to the Missionary Sisters of Charity (Mother Teresa’s religious order), who operate a shelter in Chester.
The DeBerardinis’ have great praise for St. Joseph Pastor Rev. Robert Vogan, who they say has been very encouraging and supportive.
“Fr. Vogan asks for people to donate their time and talents to help others,” said Ralph. “He has been so supportive of Cam and I and we appreciate his guidance”
And for Fr. Vogan, the feeling is more than mutual.
“Ralph and Camille are a great couple and are involved in many aspects of the church,” said Vogan. “They are faithful members of our parish and are always willing to help in any way they can. The church needs people like them. The priest’s cannot do it alone; we have to have the support of the laity.”
Neighbors in their Aston Knolls community also have great admiration and respect for the couple who always go out of their way to offer assistance when needed.
Neighbor Larry Rodgers, who retired in 2009 after spending 35 years working as an equipment operator for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PENNDOT), spent countless hours, sometimes days at a time, plowing snow during heavy storms.
He said the last thing he wanted to do was have to come home and shovel his own walk and driveway.
“Because of Ralph, that wasn’t necessary,” said Rodgers. “The first time I came home after a big storm and saw that my driveway and walk was done, I was grateful beyond words. I didn’t know who I should thank because Ralph is such a humble person. We found out that Ralph not only removed our snow but also that of many of our neighbors. Cam and Ralph are the kind of special people that don’t come along very often. We are proud to call them our friends.”
For Ralph and Camille Deberardinis the secret to happiness is simple – do for others and you get rewarded tenfold.