joan raine

PHOTO: Joan Raine, an inspiration to generations of volunteers.

MIDDLETOWN, NJ - Joan Raine is a mother of 6 children.   She got them to school on time, took them to church on Sundays and kissed scrapes when they were young.   It sounds like she was the standard definition of “mom,” but Joan Raine is anything but ordinary.  Joan taught her children to put others before themselves; and she didn’t teach them merely by using words, she taught by example. 

In 1974 Joan was working at Old Wagon Farm.   She has several roles there but the one role that she was most proud of was the “Pumpkin Lady.”  Children on school trips would come from miles around just to see the Pumpkin Family.  Joan took the role of Mama Pumpkin, Papa Pumpkin and their son Peter Pumpkin.  She was hidden behind pegboards and corn stalks with a microphone and she took turns talking to the children. 

It was during this time that Joan met a special friend, Dorothy.  Dorothy was a child with Downs Syndrome that looked forward to seeing the pumpkin family every October.  When she would arrive the Joan would make sure that she had special treatment.  Raine said, “I looked forward to seeing Dorothy every year. She was always fascinated with the Pumpkin Family I would leave a pumpkin just for her, it   seems that it was a small gesture, but for Dorothy it was a thrill.” 

During her time at Old Wagon Farm, Joan met another amazing woman, Pat Seffick.  One day while working Pat was telling Joan about her daughter Kimberly Ann.  Kimberly had a brain tumor and doctor bills were mounting.  Joan immediately jumped in to action.  Joan held a dinner dance to help the single Mom raise money.

Joan was also in the St. Gerard Guild.  It was during her time with the girls from group that she helped arrange a fundraiser for Jeffery Carton.  “Jeffery was such sweet boy, it gave me great pride to be able to help raise money for him and his family. “

You may have recognized Joan’s last name – Raine.  Throughout New Jersey, R.A.I.N.E is known for ‘Reaching All In Need Everyday” is a charity started by Patti Raine-Dickens, Joan’s daughter.  R.A.I.N.E. was founded after the 9-11 attacks.  “So many people lost love ones after 911, there were children who lost a parent, husbands that lost wives, it was sad,” said Dickens.  She began by making meals for those in need and providing Christmas gift for them. 

Twelve years later, R.A.I.N.E.  is still going strong.  In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, all of Joan Raine’s children could be found along side of their Mom preparing food for the victims of the hurricane. Sue Kiley, Joan’s eldest daughter said, “I can always remember my Mom telling us to pray for the poor and unfortunate children; it now brings me great joy to help anyone that needs help.” Sue Kiley is a Board member of R.A.I.N.E.

“It was the quiet lessons about caring that we learned from our mother,” said Marianne Ruane, Joan’s fourth daughter. “She never wanted that recognition or the accolades.  Ruane continued, “She taught us how to be good citizens; we have passed that quiet lesson to all of Joan’s grandchildren.” 

Ruane’s son, Michael and niece, Erika Rech – Joan Raine’s grandchildren – founded Breast Intentions, a charity that was formed after 3 family’s members were diagnosed with breast cancer.  “We are different than other breast cancer charities, we don’t raise money for the cure for breast cancer, there are plenty of charities doing that,” Mike Ruane said.  “We help women who are struggling now, if they can’t pay their electric bill, we can do it for them,” said Erika Rech.   Carol Raine-Rech, Joan’s second daughter said, “My mother always taught us to give of ourselves, she is and has always been a great mom and role model”. 

Joan Raine-Antonino, Joan’s youngest daughter, family also helps out with R.A.I.N.E.  Antonino is also the treasure of Brest Intentions. Her daughters both help out with the charities, as does her husband Dominick.  “When Mike and Erika (from Breast Intentions) came to me with this little idea about a charity, I help them to take the necessary steps to get that done”, said Dominick.  

Joan Raine spent the majority of her life giving.  She gave to her children by instilling a strong sense of morals, teaching them to be kind to others, and giving unconditional love.  She gave to her community through charity, kindness and her willingness to help others.  The lessons that Joan Raine taught her 6 children, 17 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren continue to flourish through their charitable endeavors, including R.A.I.N.E and Breast Intentions.

“It’s the Golden Rule,” says Joan, “Treat others how you would want to be treated.”  “It certainly wasn’t the only rule in my house,” she jokes, “but it’s the most important.”