A helping hand for others
Reynalda Greene, 27, volunteered after scores of Haitian migrants, including members of her extended family, jumped off a boat near Key Biscayne.
Like many Haitians who consider themselves blessed, Reynalda Greene has always wondered how she could make a difference for those left behind.
The answer arrived Oct. 29, 2002, as Greene watched scores of Haitian migrants jump into the waters off Key Biscayne. That's when Greene, who lived in Fort Lauderdale at the time, made the trek to Miami to Catholic Charities to volunteer her services.
Unknown to her at the time, among the more than 200 Haitians on board the vessel were members of her own extended family.
Odilia Dieudonne had been married to one of Greene's uncles on
her father's side. Fleeing what she says was political persecution in Haiti,
Dieudonne arrived in South
Florida with her four children, including a pregnant daughter who had brought her own child -- a toddler.
The Greene household would eventually expand from four -- Reynalda, her husband, Nnambi, and their two young daughters -- to 11.
''This one really moved me,'' Greene, 27, recalled about the
boatload and her desire to help whomever she could. ``Seeing the pregnant
women and children, I realized
they were searching for a better life. No one would risk their life to come on a boat if they were not.''
Since November, Greene, a manager at Eckerd, has done all she
can to offer such a life. Once her relatives were released from detention,
they moved into Greene's
three-bedroom apartment, where they lived until last month.
In the year they lived with Greene, she worked diligently to
get the kids enrolled in school and help the older children and mother
find work. The family recently moved
into their own apartment.
Meanwhile, Greene is expecting her third child, a boy, in May.
Married for six years, she and her husband recently bought their first
home, a three-bedroom house in
Pompano Beach ``with a huge backyard.''
''I know how hard it is in Haiti,'' said Greene, who came here at age 10 to join her parents, who had left her behind in Haiti eight years earlier. ``If there is someone who needs help, I am willing to do it.''