On the day his world fell apart, Kivland Lubin turned to the only place where he feels at peace.
At Harbour’s Edge, a retirement living facility nestled along the Intracoastal in Delray Beach, more than 80 employees are Haitian. So when a powerful earthquake rocked Haiti on Jan. 12, it rocked the lives of those here, too.
Many workers lost family members, including Lubin, whose six relatives are still missing in the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince. He believes they all are dead. And though he felt weak and helpless in those first few days after the earthquake, it was the people at Harbour’s Edge who gave him strength.
“When I came here, I felt better,” Lubin, 49, of Boca Raton, said. “I feel like I’m with my family.”
So Lubin and the rest of the Haitian staff did what they would do with their own families — they prayed. A prayer service was quickly organized with Harbour’s Edge Executive Director Theresa Bertram nearby.
She brought in grief counselors and offered counseling to those who told their stories that day. Bertram still recalls the sadness that poured from their voices over and over again.
Employee Jean Delva had been in Port-au-Prince for a funeral and left just hours before the earthquake hit. In Haiti, he spent time with his sister and he bought his uncle a cell phone. When he returned to Florida he tried calling it. Still, no one answers.
“I don’t know where my family is,” Delva, 35, of Delray Beach said. “My house collapsed.”
Another man, Jocelyn Viau, mourns the loss of his entire town, Leogane, about 30 miles outside the capital. Like hundreds of thousands of others, Viau’s family is sleeping on the street and, with the rainy season fast approaching, many are fearful that one bad rain could trigger mudslides and more death.
“This is very hard,” Viau, 36, of Delray Beach, said. “My heart is over there.”
These stories touched the executive director so much that Harbour’s Edge started an employee assistance fund just for the Haitian employees. The money can be used to pay for cell phone calls to Haiti or to help them eventually travel there. So far, $4,000 has been raised.
“Our commitment is to be there with them, so they don’t feel alone,” Bertram said.
But the people of Harbour’s Edge want to be there for the people of Haiti, too.
Which is why the residents raised more than $12,000 for the American Red Cross Greater Palm Beach Area Chapter. The local Red Cross alone has received more than $600,000 in donations, all of which have gone directly to Haiti, according to Larry Casey, CEO of the local chapter.
Lubin, Viau and Delva sat nearby as Casey was presented the check. He spoke of Haiti and the people suffering there, including their families.
“A lot of lives will be touched by this,” Casey said of the donation, adding, “I know how it tears at you, not being able to be there.”
But the men said they are thankful to be here. At Harbour’s Edge. Where work feels like home and the people are like family.
Where they always feel at peace.