Standing at the entrance to Eastport Elementary School each morning, directing buses and cars, and greeting parents, children and faculty members with his beaming smile and warm laugh, is Enock Guillaume, a security guard who left his hometown in Haiti nearly 30 years ago to seek a better life in New York.At 68, with a job he loves in a community where he feels welcome, he said he has set his sights on the gargantuan goal of helping his impoverished home country.
Mr. Guillaume, who lives in Shirley, said he hopes to raise enough money—roughly $250,000—to purchase 12 mobile light towers for Gonaives and Saint-Marc, two Haitian cities that lack such infrastructure. to make those communities safer. He’ll also need to raise another $10,000 for each unit, the cost of transporting them to Haiti.
In October, he registered his project, which he dubbed Community Mobile Electric Fundraising, as a not-for-profit corporation.
“I have a lot of hard work to do to get that done,” he admitted this week.
Mr. Guillaume left his job as an accountant in Haiti and arrived in the United States in 1985, leaving behind his two daughters, who are now married and still live in Haiti. He worked various jobs to get on his feet, he said, before being hired by Garrison Protective Services as a security guard.
He is also a member of the Eastport Bible Church, and a devout Christian. At the school, he often takes his lunch break inside his white sedan in the parking lot, sneaking a few moments to read his Bible.
To date, he has raised about $1,200, partially by holding a yard sale, but also in large part due to the generous efforts of Kelly DeChene, a parent of two children, Liz, 10, and Chaz, 7, who attend Eastport Elementary School.
Ms. DeChene explained that she was heading into the school one day last year when she ran into Mr. Guillaume, who was reading a book about volunteering and community service. He told her about his project, and she was inspired to find a way to help him move closer to achieving his goal.
“Everybody just loves him,” she explained. “The kids got really excited about it.”
Over the summer, she purchased T-shirts advertising the cause and snapped a shot of the children with Mr. Guillaume. She and her husband, Chuck, also organized an outdoor movie night, a tradition at their Eastport home, and used the event to raise funds for the project.
She said her family and the other parents and children hope that eventually they might be able to raise enough money to purchase at least one of the light units.
“He has a big heart, and he really wants to make this happen,” Ms. DeChene said.
Mr. Guillaume is in the early phases of getting the project up and running by attracting help from other groups both in the United States and in Haiti.
Though he knows the road will be long and hard, Mr. Guillaume said he feels driven to better the lives of those in Haiti, and he added that working with others in the community is the only way to achieve that success.
“It’s in my heart, you know?” he said. “I have to do it.”