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Lodi’s Clovis Baptiste is keeping his dream alive

Local man still working to help his family in Haiti

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Clovis Baptiste

Posted: Monday, December 12, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 5:53 am, Mon Dec 12, 2011.

Clovis Baptiste may have become a success story by escaping the poverty of Haiti and becoming manager of the Big Kmart store on Lodi's Cherokee Lane, but he longs to rescue his large family in his homeland.

Baptiste's parents and 10 of his 15 siblings remain in earthquake-ravaged Haiti. His family lives on a remote island without the simple convenience of a grocery store. To shop, you have to take a boat to the main island of Haiti, and it can be a very long trip, depending on whether there's any wind to guide the boat, Baptiste said.

Baptiste's parents are farmers and live off the land, though sometimes they can trade their crops to fishermen who also live on the isolated island.

What made the impoverished conditions even worse was the devastating earthquake that rocked Haiti almost two years ago. Baptiste says Haiti isn't in any better condition now than it was when the earthquake struck.

Baptiste, now living in north Stockton, visited his homeland in February 2010, but he hasn't been able to return since. He sends money to his parents on a regular basis, and he's able to communicate with his parents and siblings by phone and text message.

Baptiste hopes to raise enough money to pay another visit to his native land in July. He wants to start a website where he can collect donations to help his family.

Baptiste was lucky enough to better himself financially by leaving Haiti with one of his brothers and two sisters in December 1991. He was 12 at the time. The Baptiste family of 17 lived in a two-bedroom house with no electricity or running water, which is why young Clovis wanted to leave the country.

A boat took Baptiste and the three siblings with him to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The following March, he was able to reach Miami.

The job market wasn't good in Florida, so Baptiste joined one of his sisters, who had relocated to San Rafael, in 1995. He drove cross-country without sleep in three days.

The sister lived in California because her boyfriend at the time, now her husband, lived in San Francisco.

Clovis Baptiste moved in with his sister and brother-in-law until he rented a home in Oakland in 1997. He attended Laney Community College in Oakland, where he learned English. French is Haiti's native language.

Baptiste then majored in theater arts at University of California, Santa Cruz, and hoped to become a "superstar" in show business, but he wasn't making any money in theater arts. He was a model for a few years in San Francisco, but he wasn't a financial success there, either.

Baptiste received greater financial security after being hired at Safeway. He moved to Stockton a few years ago because the cost of living was lower than in the Bay Area, and Safeway allowed him to transfer to a Stockton store.

In 2007, he left Safeway to become store manager at a Big Kmart store in Jackson. After eight months, he was transferred to the Lodi store to work closer to home.

"I'm honored to have this job," Baptiste said.

He lives in north Stockton with his wife, Jeannite, also from Haiti; daughter, Chloree, 9; and son, Elijah, 2.

Anyone interested in helping Baptiste visit his family in Haiti next summer may contact him at the Kmart store at 209-333-0220.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:45 pm on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Robert , that Viet Nam Trip with the Vets sounded remarkable... especially if it brought you peace of mind. When I go to Asia now, it is hard to imagine fighting with such kind people. Times have changed.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 4:59 pm on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    In 2009, I went to Viet Nam for, you know (wink, wink). I went with a group of 23 other guys. All American vets. We went for closure to a difficult chapter in our lives. I visited the sight where the aircraft I was assigned to was shot down and my best friend was killed. That trip totally changed my mindset and I am finally at peace with that part of my life.

  • Joe Baxter posted at 3:53 pm on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    Ms. Bobin, if your posts were merely debates or disagreements that would be one thing, You are entitled to disagree with other posters but you seem compelled to berate those who you disagree with calling them idiots, morons and any other adjective you feel like using. THAT, is disrespect no matter what you say. A classic sign of someone with low self esteem. When you come across the way you do I wonder just how intelligent you really are. When you post personal insults about others, be prepared to receive them.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:55 pm on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Mr. Baxter:

    If you call "disrespecting" disagreeing, then I'm sorry for you. I have a low tolerance for ignorance and those who are ill-informed, misinformed, and bigoted, but refuse to educate themselves. For that I will never apologize.

    I believe I have much more respect for people in this forum than you will ever have since you only have tunnel vision and would never even dream to take someone else's opinion into consideration.

  • Joe Baxter posted at 8:46 am on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    JOANNE BOBIN posted, "Mr. Baxter - when I become an associate of yours, you may address me as "Hey BOBIN." Until then, please refrain from using just my last name."
    Hey BOBIN, perhaps when you cease disrespecting almost every poster on this forum, you might earn some respect. Try it, you might be surprised. You become an associate of mine? Oh my, that is probably the funniest thing I have ever read on the LNS blogsite. Fat chance of that ever happening.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:30 am on Tue, Dec 13, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Richard... there is always room for one more kind thought... You should have said what you were feeling... I know I would have appreciated it!
    Merry Christmas!!!!!!

  • Richard Turner posted at 7:27 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Richard Turner Posts: 80

    Mr Baptiste, I hope all your dreams come true !! I was going to chime in on this discussion but, I cant ....this is just getting too old !! It sucks all that is good out of a very nice story !! I wish each of you a very merry Christmas and may God bless you !! Remember ...." Aint no time to hate.... barely time to wait "....

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 6:05 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Great for you, Mr. Chapman - you were able to quote Wikipedia!

    Interesting statistic I happened upon last night - over 104,000 Vietnamese have been killed since 1975 by land mines - no comment on whose land mines they were, only deaths. And funny, Vietnam happens to be one of the big destinations for Americans these days, in addition to Thailand. But we all know what the big attraction is in Thailand (wink-wink!).

    Mr. Baxter - when I become an associate of yours, you may address me as "Hey BOBIN." Until then, please refrain from using just my last name.

    Good comments, Mr. Baumbach. Mr. Baptiste is certainly a great example of our country's kindness and opportunity for political refugees. I do not wish to detract from his remarkable story and wish him and his family all the best this country has to offer.

    If this story was about an "undocumented" individual who sent all their money back home to their family, I can guarantee that you and your comrades would be less than generous in your comments.

  • Robert Chapman posted at 4:11 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Having served in VN, I witnesse first hand what the communist NVA did to people who sided with the fight for freedom. Of all the VN refugees that were brought to the US, LEGALLY, over 72% of them, through hard work, became naturalized citizens and were proud of that fact unlike illegal border crossers who choose to thumb their noses at US sovereignty and laws.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 1:31 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Actually ms Bobin.. I am so impressed with someone like Clovis Baptiste, that I am will ing to let you have the last word into to get the attention back on his story.

    Mr Baptiste, who works hard and is a family man, has sacrified. He sends money to his family overseas and I am sure he misses them espeically during Christmas season. In my view, I wish more people like him decided to migrate here as our country benefits from him as he benefits from United States. Win win situation

  • Joe Baxter posted at 1:19 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    Hey, BOBIN, if you are going to quote my posts, do it RIGHT. I said "SOME of those cases are suspect". Of course with your reading comprehension skills, you read ALL instead of SOME. Like someone else said, you have the ability to read something and come up with the stupidest conclusions. Sad to go through life that way. Bless your little heart.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:49 pm on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    Mr. Baumbach - I believe that it was Mr. Baxter who initiated the "Bah, humbug" with his claim that those who have claimed political asylum were "suspect" in his eyes. I just asked if he was including the SEA refugees in his list of those who he suspects are gaming the system.

    Perhaps you should have rushed to judgment with HIM, not me, with his comments about the above and his insistence that I am collecting all kinds of public assistance.

    You wouldn't dare cross your brothers in crime, though, would you? If you had one, you would realize that your comments demonstrate a clear lack of character, don't you think?

  • Robert Chapman posted at 11:44 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    DARRELL, Ms. Bobin be nice? Whoaa, that's rich. She is so full of hatred she wouldn't even know where to start to be "nice". Life must have dealt her a bad deal for her to spew the venom she conjurs up. Oh well, better her than me.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:30 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    I've already told you - ALL of them!

    But contrary to the chiropractor and his wife from Seattle who were collecting all types of public assistance and living in a million dollar mansion, I've been able to fly under the radar by living in a van down by the river.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 11:24 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Bah.. Humbug says Ms Bobin...

    I think Political Asylum was appropriate for these people who would have died at the hands of the communists Ms Bobin... that is a legal form of immigration... which is what Mr Baxter was advocating....

    In the spirit of this letter, I hope Ms Bobin withdrawls her political fangs and lets the goodness of this situation be celebrated during this Christmas season.

    It is so unfortunate that this quality letter and outstanding personal story was not allowed to shine as Ms Bobin's so negatively entered the fray.

  • Joe Baxter posted at 11:15 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    JOANNE. I even have suspicions of YOU collecting welfare, SSI, financial aid and other taxpayer funded programs. Tell me, which of those are you currently enjoying?

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 11:02 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4308

    So, Mr. Baxter, do you have suspicions about the hundreds of thousands of Southeast Asian refugees who received political asylum in the US after the end of the Vietnam war and collected millions in welfare, food stamps, SSI, financial aid and other taxpayer funded programs? You should.

  • Joe Baxter posted at 9:26 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Joe Baxter Posts: 1797

    I have dealt with Mr. Baptiste at the KMart store. He is pleasant, charismatic and very helpful. A true immigrant success story. America does, and should, welcome immigrants as long as they enter the US legally. Immigrants that come to America and expect to be supported by taxpayer programs need to be deported unless it is an extreme political asylum situation and even some of those cases are suspect.

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:48 am on Mon, Dec 12, 2011.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Immigration at its best... Mr Baptiste is honored to have his job... and in turn
    Lodi is honored to have a good person in it's mist.



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