By: Jen Russon
A community campaign to raise funds for a well-known food service worker in Coral Springs hit and exceeded its goal within two days, including multiple job offers for the former Sweet Tomatoes worker, Marcel Coulanges.
Nearly 400 people donated to a GoFundMe apply named, “Marcel the Cookie Man,” raising a total of $14,000 before campaign organizer Carrie Berman closed it upon meeting with the Coulanges family.
“We are blessed to have this much love and support from so many people my dad got to know over the years. His mind is blown, just blown,” said Marcel’s oldest daughter, Daphnee ‘Rosine’ Coulanges.
She said her father, who speaks fluent Creole and Spanish, was in shock, deeply humbled, and had few words to say to those who lifted him up with their kind words and donations, except ‘thank you’ and ‘I love you all.’
Daphnee, who grew up in Coral Springs with four siblings, is living with her parents while she peruses a doctoral degree in public administration. She currently works as an instructional aide at the Renaissance Charter School at Coral Springs on Sample Road.
Since the GoFundMe campaign closed, she has taken on the role of administrative assistant, helping Marcel find a new job in the aftermath of the global pandemic, which ended his career at Sweet Tomatoes after 24 years.
In addition to helping her father sort through an avalanche of job opportunities, Daphnee also helped her father set up his Facebook page, so the many people asking to “friend” the popular table busser, could stay in touch.
On behalf of the Coulanges family, Daphnee confirmed that ongoing support from the Coral Springs community could not have come at a better time.
“It was a much-needed boost after Sweet Tomatoes suddenly closed. I had actually never seen my dad cry before, but after the community reached out, he’s happy once again,” said Daphnee, adding the love he was shown helped her, too.
“My father-in-law passed away this week, and knowing how my Dad brings out the good in people and the good in this world, really helped me through that,” she said.
Daphnee, her sisters, Sophia and Nancy, and brothers Steven and Jean Coulanges were raised in Coral Springs and ate at Sweet Tomatoes often enough to know how well-liked their father was.
Daphnee said her father was initially so heartbroken over the restaurant chain closing; he took ill with a mystery ailment that had everyone, including his granddaughter, Emilya Daniel, worried.
It wasn’t COVID-19, but whatever it was had slowed him down.
“I told him, ‘you know, dad, the people of Coral Springs are going to take care of you no matter what,” said Daphnee, adding the Coulanges are people of deep faith and had an almost sixth sense something good was about to happen.
Marcel has since recovered from his illness and is doing well, according to the women in his household, Margarette Charles, his wife, and daughter, Daphnee.
“He just met with a friend about a possible job at McDonald’s,” said Daphnee.
To see where Marcel the Cookie Man lands, now that restaurants throughout Coral Springs have begun to reopen after a COVID-19 shutdown, follow his story here.
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- Jen Russon is a freelance writer and English Language Arts teacher. She has published two novels to Amazon Kindle and lives in Coral Springs with her family.
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