NEW YORK – Kwame Kissi, 53, considers himself a lucky man. Since arriving in the United States from Ghana in 2003, the husband and father of two has worked as a doorman in several apartment buildings in New York City.
Four years ago, the management company Kissi still works for put him in the Sessanta Apartments on the Upper West Side.
“I work in different buildings, but this building is different. It means a lot. They have good people, people with heart, they care about others, ”said Kissi of the tenants of the building.
Kissi himself can also be described as a generous person.
Even after New York City became her new home, Kissi made a point of regularly sending donations to an orphanage in West Africa.
Although Kissi does not seek any recognition for his charitable work, he also felt strange asking for help during his time of need.
“I called 911 and went downstairs with my pants on. Everything has been burned, everything is burned, ”Kissi said of the apartment fire that ravaged her 19th-floor unit earlier this month.
No one was seriously injured in the Bronx fire, but by the time firefighters put out the flames, everything in their apartment had been destroyed.
Among the destroyed items was a large cardboard box full of donations that Kissi was about to ship overseas.
Kissi, his wife and two adult children have stayed with friends since the fire and have spoken to few others about her plight.
“I don’t want to bring my problem to the tenants because it’s not their problem. We just work together, I don’t have to bring my problems, ”Kissi said.
Kissi returned to work only a day after the fire and only told a few colleagues what had happened to explain his absence the day before.
They, in turn, told some of the tenants in the building who wanted to help.
Several tenants who have helped to help Kissi financially have said he is more than just a doorman.
“I couldn’t believe something like this would happen to someone I know,” said Jill Akman, a tenant in the apartment building where Kissi works.
“We created a little flyer to just tell people what had happened and to find out if they wanted to donate, they could drop something off at the front desk,” said Kristin Mleczko, another tenant of the building.
Other tenants of the building, current and former, took action by making private donations.
“It made me want to cry. Like, that was so amazing. These people show love, they make me feel right at home, ”Kissi said of their generosity.
Two of the building’s tenants have now set up a GoFundMe page in hopes other New Yorkers will want to contribute.
Kissi said he was very grateful for their help.
He believes he is being helped now because of his work, over the years, helping others in need of charity.