Born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, Anthony Bruno travels today between Port St. Lucie and Hudson, Florida.
“We had a very happy childhood,” Bruno says of his two brothers and two sisters. “We lived near the ocean. In fact, every city I’ve lived in has not been far from water. Haiti was a place of safety if you chose to be safe, growing up under a dictatorship. If you minded your own business, life was peaceful. You stayed out of politics.”
Taught by Haitian and Canadian friars, Bruno says his favorite subject was languages. He is fluent in Creole, French, English and Spanish, with a smattering of Italian and Russian.
Bruno’s father was a master carpenter. When a close friend of Bruno’s mother extended a letter of invitation to move to the United States, they saw an opportunity to provide a better life for the family. Leaving the children with grandparents, they navigated the difficult immigration process in New York and gathered necessary funds. Three years later, they sent for Bruno, who was 16, and his siblings.
“Dad was late picking us up,” he says. “We were kind of lost at JFK Airport. Culture shock. We were glad we had cassava bread and peanut butter to keep us going.”
Working at several jobs, Bruno focused on schoolwork and getting used to American English. “I would find a thought in Creole, translate it into French and then into English. Later on, you learn to just think in English.”
Bruno’s parents urged the children to benefit from the very best America had to offer and walk the straight and narrow.
“We were always in church,” he says. “I planned to be an architect but my nature was not to sit at a desk. I loved working with people, so I followed my heart.” His heart also led him to his future wife, whom he met during college and married in 1982.
“One of the things I fell in love with was Jackie’s security,” he explains. She said ‘I know who I am and whose I am.’ That’s impressive to me.”
While watching a program on the Christian Broadcasting Network, he learned of a need for volunteers and applied. At the interview, however, he was offered a supervisory position over phone counselors at the Brooklyn center.
“I was so blessed to do something that I loved, see lives transformed.”
Bruno also counseled callers, including one memorable doctor.
“He called the hotline and he said, ‘I have three shotguns in front of me. I’m trying to decide which one to use to blow my head off.’ ” Bruno shakes his head and groans, remembering. “Tough, isn’t it? With patience, I listened to his situation, his troubles.”
Later, the doctor called Bruno to thank him for saving his life.
“Wow! Just being there for people at their lowest moments and seeing them change is powerful.”
More recently, a woman asked Bruno to reach out to her son in prison. Wrongly accused, the man had lost everything: job, apartment, family, children, driver’s license, reputation, dignity. He was suicidal. Bruno sent cards, visited, encouraged.
“He called this summer to say thank you. The charges were dropped. His life is amazing now. It is so rewarding to be part of those things.”
While at CBN, Bruno also worked with the American Red Cross.
“Opportunities came. I was given offers I couldn’t refuse, doing what I love.”
Eventually, he served as program director whose responsibilities included interfacing with agencies and churches, finding housing for the underprivileged and providing HIV prevention and education services in the Bronx.
“Imagine being in such an environment,” he says. “You walk in the streets and see needles. The role model in the community is a drug dealer. But when you are working and serving your purpose, you don’t operate out of fear. I would think, ‘If this is where I lose my life, I lose it in the middle of my mission.’ ”
When the Bruno children were 11 and 13, the couple felt the need for a change.
“We didn’t even visit Port St. Lucie first,” he says. “We saw it on a VHS recording. The Mets were here. The schools were fine. It was family oriented. We took a step of faith.”
While on vacation, Bruno packed up the family and moved them down with no job in sight. Back in New York, he sent out resumes.
“It didn’t take long before Jackie called to say I had an interview.”
Bruno worked for the St. Lucie County Health Department and for the Florida Department of Children and Families before becoming a pastor at Morningside Church, where he served until 2021.
As a life coach today, Bruno wants to serve a wider audience. His business, Healing Streams of Hope, provides event planning and photography for weddings, family reunions, memorial services, special parties and quinceañeras. His podcast, The Eagle Mindset, is live on the Clubhouse social media Wednesdays at 7 p.m.
He also fundraises. In September, he will help the Northern Lights School of Horsemanship, an organization that is returning to Port St. Lucie.
“Kathryn Zwaryck has been an inspiration via the discipline of horsemanship, transforming lives through a unique outlet.”
Bruno finds working with people one-on-one, whether online or face-to-face, to be the most rewarding. “We live in gratitude and thankfulness and we try to pass on the blessing.
Lives in: Port St. Lucie and Hudson, on Florida’s west coast
Occupation: Life coach
Family: Wife, Jacqueline; daughter, Chrystie Bruno-Rolle and her twin girls; son, Sam Bruno and his three boys
Education: City College of New York; training with Christian Broadcasting Network and Florida Department of Children and Families; licensed minister
Hobbies: “Gardening with my wife.”
Who inspires me: “God. My mother. My wife. My family. My friends. In that order.”
Something most people don’t know about me: “I’m a pretty good artist in terms of drawing and painting. I don’t get a chance to indulge as much, but everybody knows I love photography. I love to document as life passes by, capture as much of it as possible.”
See the original article in the print publication
Sept. 18, 2022