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Director of Massachusetts immigrant organization reflects on her tireless mission, "I have a vision"

Dr. Geralde Gabeau reflects on her tireless mission to help immigrants
Dr. Geralde Gabeau reflects on her tireless mission to help immigrants 02:47

BOSTON - A brand-new office to assist migrants opened in Malden at 10 a.m. Monday morning. By 10:30 a.m., the waiting room was full.

This is the reality for the Immigrant Family Services Institute, the organization at the front line of the migrant crisis in Massachusetts and its director, Dr. Geralde Gabeau.

Despite the uphill effort to assist the state's newcomers with shelter, job opportunities, and food, Dr. Gabeau says she feels inspired to help.

"It feels like every step of the way, my life is just a reflection of this calling to serve," Gabeau said.

Geralde Gabeau
Dr. Geralde Gabeau, director of the Immigrant Family Services Institute CBS Boston

Geralde Gabeau grew up in Haiti in a family with nine kids. She says she first felt a calling to help others at church.

"I was at a church when someone was next to me reading the bible upside down," she said, "That's when I said wow, I am here with other people around me and they cannot read, they cannot write, and I'm not doing anything? So, I said we must do something."

During her twenties, Dr. Gabeau says the situation in Haiti grew dire. She and her young family decided to move to the United States. In the U.S. she started an effort to help other immigrants like her. In 2005, she founded the Immigrant Family Services Institute in Mattapan.

For months, she has been an outspoken advocate for the thousands of migrants who have come to Massachusetts seeking shelter.

"From December 7 to last week we already had 2,000 new people registered with us. So, it's not a simple affair. It's everyday hundreds of people are coming to all of the sites," Gabeau said in January.

The situation may seem dire, but Gabeau says she continues to do her work with positivity.

"I have a vision. I need to accomplish this. And if I don't, who else will?" she said.

Gabeau says her drive comes from her family values, Haitian heritage, and her faith.

"I believe that my work is being guided by God and because God is the master of everything that I do, so I don't have to worry about anything because He's in control," she said.

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