Community pitches in after family is struck by tragedy

When tragedy struck a North Miami-Dade family of limited means, community members and a police department decided to literally go to bat to help lift them up, initially raising $1,800, and thousands more later.

David Narcisse, a 6-year-old kindergartner at David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center, recently lost his mother to health complications after she gave birth to his sister.

Narcisse and his sister were left in the care of their father, Sylvio Narcisse. Sylvio moved to the United States from Haiti in 1994 and does not have many family members living in this country.

With tears in his eyes, he described his worries for his small family’s future.

“She did everything necessary for the kids,” Sylvio said. “What she used to do, I wont be able to cover by myself.”

Sylvio lost his primary job as a security guard in 2008 and now works as a cab driver. Though Sylvio does have brothers that live close to him, he mentioned that his brothers do not have experience with raising a baby.

“I have brothers, but do not have any sisters who know anything about babies or baby girls,” he said.

Unsure of how to break the news of his wife’s death to his son, Sylvio turned to David’s elementary school guidance counselors for help.

“The school did a very good job, they handled the situation and they told him exactly what happened,” Sylvio said. “David stayed strong.”

Still, David’s kindergarten teacher, Maureen Thomson, felt the entire school should know of the family’s needs. She spread the word of the family’s recent loss and, with the entire community, helped lessen their financial struggles.

“The school has taken it to another level to show that they don’t just teach, but that they care also,” Sylvio said.

Initially, the school sent out an email to the faculty and staff asking for donations for the family.

“We had an outpouring of support from the school and community,” Thomson said.

Third-grade teacher Katrina Acevedo-Pinillos told her husband, Juan Pinillos, David’s story. Juan, a police officer for the North Miami Beach Police Department, then had the idea to put together a softball game to raise funds for the family.

“We had a good response from the officers, and everyone immediately wanted to donate,” Juan said. “We see tragedy every day in our line of work, and we see families destroyed every day. He’s a young child, and this is sad.”

The game took place at 3:30 p.m. on June 5 at the Miami Shores Parks and Recreation Field and collected a total of $1,800. Angel Backpack Inc. also presented the family with a check for $1,250. And on June 7, DeRodriguez Cuba, a restaurant in South Beach, sponsored a dinner fundraising event that collected a total of $5,000. The owner of the restaurant has children who attend the school.

According to Thomson, carloads of supplies including formula, diapers and clothing have also been collected for the family.

“I didn’t expect anything like that from them,” Sylvio said. “I was shocked just to see that they did all this. I never have seen something like this before just for a loss. They showed me they care about family so much, and that’s so unique to me.”

To donate money for the family, checks should be mailed to David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Center, located at 15000 Bay Vista Blvd., North Miami, FL, 33181. The check should say “Attention: Tonia Durden” and should specify it is for a donation to the family. To contact the school, call 305-354-2600.