February 11, 2020
My siblings and I will always have much love for Kodak! Kodak is the REASON we are here! My parents were both born and raised in Haiti; my dad in Port-au-Prince and my mom in Jacmel, a smaller city south of the capital. When I was younger, my father used to always talk about this man Dr. Miller and how good of friends they were. He spoke highly of him and their friendship meant a lot to him. My dad really respected and loved him.
When I was in my late teens, my dad took me to Mt. Hope cemetery and showed me Dr. Miller’s tombstone. I was in awe and did not pay attention to what my dad was saying! I was overwhelmed with the beauty and history of the cemetery. That was my first time inside Mt.Hope Cemetery and if you haven’t done so yourself I highly recommend that you go on a tour! It is one of America’s oldest active municipal burial grounds. There is a wide variety of trees and plants on the grounds, some of which date back to the 1850’s when the adjacent Ellwanger & Barry Nursery donated many of its hybrids and specialty plants to the cemetery. Click here to learn more…
But I wish I had paid attention to what my dad was saying, because now as an adult, I really want to pay my respects to Dr. Miller for all he has done for my self and my family. I have tried to research more about him and what he has done for Kodak and other immigrant families.
Back to my roots! By the age of 12, my father had lost both of his parents and was an orphan in Haiti. Around 1969, Dr. Miller was in Haiti to bring immigrants to work for Kodak using a lottery system. My father heard the news in the community and went and got a ticket. He was one of the lucky ones to win this lottery and come to Rochester to work for Kodak. Winning this lottery meant he had to leave his wife and his four children behind in Haiti to come to America and start working. He did all this to make our lives better! Like most Haitians, my Dad was a devout Catholic. Over the next four years he built a connection with his church, Sacred Heart Cathedral, where our family would later also become involved with. Dad worked to established himself at work and in the community . He purchased a home and brought our family here to America. While in America, because of Haiti’s poor infrastructure, it was difficult for my parents to maintain communication. One day (Early in 1973.), my dad arrived in Haiti and brought them to America; home…Rochester, NY. Once in America, my mom became pregnant twice, in 1974 and 1975, giving birth to my brother then me. We are the only children born in this country! Life just went on for us with my dad working diligently, for Kodak headquarters and Park, from 1971 until his retirement in 1991, never once missing a day of work and on time… every day. Showing us kids consistence, hard work and always focus on providing for your family.
During the time my mom was telling me about the lottery system and our journeys, she was ill and suffering with dementia. I was intrigued and wanted to learn more and verify her stories. I reached out to the George Eastman Museum here in Rochester and learned that what she said was true and I was so so happy! I learned that George Eastman sent representatives to many less developed counties to get workers who would come to the US for employment and citizenship! George Eastman was visionary far beyond his time and his philanthropy is often overlooked! Before his death, he gave away almost all of his fortune and set up charities and endowments for the rest. One thing I learned, which is overlooked was the fact that he was also the largest donor to the African American schooling system. Eastman’s roots provided a strong commitment to philanthropy from before his birth, starting with the participation of his grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles in the Underground Railroad. Eastman also built the county’s first free dental clinic in the United States! read more about his work here: https://www.learningtogive.org/resources/eastman-george Eastman’s home is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives. The museum holds unparalleled collections—encompassing several million objects—in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology, and photographically illustrated books. The institution is also a longtime leader in film preservation and photographic conservation. Eastman lived in this mansion for almost 30 years, featuring opulent gardens, finely decorated rooms, rare art, and a huge collection of taxidermy from his big-game hunting trips ( the elephant head being the highlight). George Eastman’s house offers daily tours and on April 4th, 2020 you can check it out for free! The George Eastman Museum is another amazing piece of history and a must visit location here in Rochester. https://www.eastman.org
So I have laid down the foundation of the Myrthil’s journey from Haiti to Rochester, NY. Thank you George Eastman as you where such a visionary far beyond your time here on earth! My Papi, from all of his struggles and hardships that he endured as a child and adult, he MADE IT!!! WE MADE IT!!! The location of the home that my dad purchased for our family here in Rochester, NY, where I was raised, is in the Maplewood Community. When choosing our home, my Dad chose it based on our family’s needs… What was my dad’s living lifestyle?
Stay tuned… “The Heart of The ROC!”