By Cathy Free via The Washington Post

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.

There’s no one here dancing on top of a car tossing out fistfuls of cash. 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.

“People ask me, ‘Why don’t you go home and rest? Why don’t you sleep?’ ” Moreau said. “But 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.

“Sometimes I had to leave them home alone and put my 13-year-old son in charge,” she recalled. “It was very hard, but we got through. To give my thanks to God for watching out for us, I am happy now to give back.”

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. Continue reading

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