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Posts Tagged ‘Little Haiti’

Photo: AP/Marta Lavandier.
Doramise Moreau is a part-time janitor at a technical school. She spends most of her time shopping for ingredients and helping to cook meals for 1,000 to 1,500 people a week that show up for food at Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church in Miami.

Last week, I finally felt safe enough to go get my hair trimmed and was glad to catch up on Tracie’s year. It was difficult at times, as it was for us all. Her teenage daughter had had a painfully lonely time at home, and her mother was relieved to see her back at in-person school, at least part time.

Tracie really lit up when she talked about giving free haircuts to residents of a nursing home. As she described the grateful things the seniors said to her, it was clear just how happy the volunteering made her.

Today’s story is about another volunteer who lights up when she can help people.

As reporter Cathy Free noted at the Washington Post earlier this month, “Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency because spring break partyers have overwhelmed the city, but across the causeway in Miami’s Little Haiti, a very different scene unfolds: Each Friday night, a school custodian finishes her day job, then spends 12 hours quietly cooking for the hungry.

“Doramise Moreau arrives at the Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church each Friday, where she stays on her feet deep into Saturday morning, pausing briefly for a nap. …

“Less than 10 miles from South Beach, Moreau, 60, lovingly turns bulk-size bags of rice and beans and hundreds of chicken and turkey drumsticks into about 1,500 meals for people in her Little Haiti neighborhood who might not have enough to eat. …

“ ‘I don’t need a lot of sleep. I would rather be here making food for the people. I ask every day for more strength to keep doing what I’m doing.’

“She first volunteered to buy groceries with church donations and prepare a feast once a week, she said, when her pastor, Reginald Jean-Marie, mentioned that he was concerned about hunger in the community.

“ ‘I told him, “Don’t worry, I can do this — I have the time,” ‘ Moreau said. ‘When people are hungry, it is our responsibility to help. I know how hard it can be out there.’

“Moreau grew up with nine siblings in Haiti and often took food from her family’s pantry to give to those who had less than her family did, she said. In 1980, she immigrated to the United States at age 19 and lived with her brother in Miami until she fell in love and started a family of her own.

“When the relationship didn’t work out and she became a single mother, Moreau said, she took two hotel jobs to pay the bills and keep her four kids fed. …

“For her first batch of meals last spring, Moreau made several enormous pots of rice and beans seasoned with her special blend of green and red peppers, onions, cilantro, bay leaves and garlic. She has never used a recipe, relying instead on instinct and what she remembers from watching her aunt and sister cook in Haiti, she said.

“ ‘Who has time to measure? I just chop everything up and toss it in,’ she said. …

“Although rice and beans are a mainstay, Moreau’s fried chicken, roast turkey, baked fish and fried plantains are also popular with the 1,000 to 1,500 people she feeds each week.

“The meals are loaded into two delivery trucks and distributed on Saturday afternoons by volunteers who cruise slowly through the neighborhood in Little Haiti and hand them out to people as they come out of their apartments.

‘Sometimes I go with them to deliver the meals, and it’s rewarding when you see how it helps,” Moreau said. “For some people, this might be the only meal they get for a while.’ …

” ‘American, Spanish, Haitian — I don’t want anyone to go hungry,’ Moreau said. ‘People are suffering during the pandemic. There’s no work, the rent is high, they might not have money to go to the store. This is just one meal, [but] it’s something I can do.’ …

“Jean-Marie, the pastor, urges Moreau to occasionally take off her apron and rest. ‘I ask myself all the time how she does it,’ he said. ‘Not once do I ever hear her complain. We have to beg Doramise to take a rest, but she keeps showing up, day after day. She gives everything she has.’ ”

More here.

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