Humans of Poughkeepsie is an ongoing project seeking to highlight Poughkeepsie residents and community members. Each featured member will share a collection of stories—connected or not—that reveal the multifaceted nature of the self.
This week, Morees Haddad shares his story. Mr. Haddad own Haddad’s Middle Eastern Groceries and Restaurant on the corner of Main Street and Raymond Avenue. He and his wife have been in business since 2013.
I think the community in Poughkeepsie, they are well organized. They work together for the best of the community here. Maybe there is some issues that they are working faster in some aspects to improve than others, but in general it’s a beautiful community. We are happy to be part of this community and to help as much as possible with the community.
I would love to see that they are more understanding of the concept of business in Poughkeepsie. To help small businesses, that they pay attention to their needs. I think this is very important, to work more to improve the city itself, city planning. They have to pay attention to the public transportation more. Public transportation here is poor. Basically, if you don’t have a car, a lot of people they can’t move, and they walk miles because there is no public transportation. They walk miles just to get to the clothing store, where they work. Some for like 10 miles, some people it takes them two hours to get there. That’s unfair I think. They can’t afford to buy a car. Even if they can afford to buy a car they don’t have enough money to maintain the car. And with the gas prices, this is one is also a killer. I think the city of Poughkeepsie or the town of Poughkeepsie they have to pay attention to the public transportation somehow. When you compare it to any place in Europe, in Europe you don’t need a car to move. There is everything: buses, electric buses everywhere…. Basically you don’t need to buy a car…
I like to be part of this improvement. As a small business owner to do my best to contribute to the city. To add something different, to diversity. New York is well known that the diversity is high. That was the main thing
why we opened the store, to bring this kind of taste to American homes. I think it’s a beautiful city and we need all to contribute to improve it somehow.
I had a business before. It’s retail, but different. This is a specialty business. I’m focusing on Middle Eastern food. Grocery or food. I used to have a retail store, like a regular grocery store. I had a 7-Eleven franchise, totally different than what I do now. We do the best thing for the community.
When we moved to Poughkeepsie we were looking to supply our home with our Middle Eastern product, and unfortunately we couldn’t find any place [in Poughkeepsie], so we had to travel either to Yonkers or to Paterson, NJ, like an hour and a half driving. So we decided to set up our own place. Then this place became available and we decided to go through with it. To serve the community, the Arabic community, the Middle Eastern community, and to bring the taste to our community.
After 9/11 I was the most scared. It almost a year and a half after I came over here. And I felt that this is the most disastrous thing that will ever happen, and I was really pretty scared. Not to myself but in general. You know, I had just moved here. I had a background [of]what America is, how powerful is America. There is a German saying, “If you see the monster, don’t go to him, don’t go to the monster.” I don’t emphasize that America is a monster, but America is a powerful country. And attacking a powerful country, this is by itself a disaster, and I was scared about all the region and my family, my country, back home. At the same time I felt so horrified by the action itself, when a lot of people lost their lives. That was a huge impact on me. To look at in on the TV how it happened, that made me really scared. Scared for everybody. I was scared for people who lived in the area, for people that lived in New York especially. I was scared for the aftermath. I was living in Yonkers, 45 minutes from that. This was for all Americans, overnight it changed. Overnight. Became a different place.
Well, our childhoods are so different. And when I see the children now, they live in America, I just get so happy for them, you know, I wasn’t that privileged to think about… I don’t know. Honestly I don’t know. I would say I would focus more on my education, and I would focus more to listen to my parents. This is something you just realize after you grow up.
I think I tell my kids a story about what’s the difference and how they are lucky to be born and raised in this free country. And I’m comparing what we had to what they have, and let them compare it to themselves, see the difference.