|By Susan Miller Degnan, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Jun. 11, 2010 --It has been an especially tough year for Jeanne Mydil, a housekeeper at Miami International Airport Hotel.
Her sister's husband died in the Haiti earthquake.
Her own husband died suddenly May 23 from complications of diabetes. She had to borrow money to bury him.
But when Mydil found a large zippered bag in a nightstand with $6,000 cash, she did exactly what her heart told her -- returned it without taking a penny.
"I am Christian," Mydil, 50, said in Creole Thursday through an interpreter. "I never had thoughts of taking the money."
Turns out the cash was on its way to Haiti with eight missionaries to help in the relief effort. The group rewarded Mydil with $100, but Thursday she got something even more meaningful: a party honoring her as the Miami International Airport Employee of the Month.
"We're very thankful for the people in that hotel. What she did is completely amazing. You have no idea," said missionary David Ruesga, who works for the Youth With a Mission in El Paso, Texas.
Mydil, the mother of 14-year-old Marie and 11-year-old Junior and stepmother of Joudanorve, 14, began working at the hotel in 2007. Marta Guerra, the hotel's director of marketing and sales, called her "a sweetheart" and said she is one of the hardest workers there.
"She's a great housekeeper," Guerra said. "Always here on time -- extra clean. We've never heard one negative thing about her.
"She's so sweet, loves to talk to people and is quick with a hug."
Mydil was cleaning Room 458 on June 1 when she found the bag, along with some eyeglasses. She immediately turned the wad of cash in to her supervisor.
"We were stunned," Guerra said. "We knew she was going through a hard time because the previous week her husband had died and a good friend of hers who worked with her husband in the restaurant began a collection to help with burial expenses.
"When the housekeeper brought the money into the administrative office and we saw how much was there, all the managers called the other managers and said, 'Can you believe this?' "
On Thursday, the hotel's housekeepers were summoned from their duties to join in the party for Mydil. Airport and hotel officials presented her with a certificate, plaque, small gifts and discount coupons for restaurants and shops throughout the airport terminal.
"Jeanne has made all of us look good," said housekeeper Claudette Celestine. "It was a very good day for the Haitians that work here. We're very proud."
Mydil, clearly shy, couldn't stop smiling, Guerra said.
"I'm very happy about the party," Mydil said later. "I'm more happy now knowing that the money was going to people in Haiti. When I found the money that day I had a lot of problems, but I knew it wasn't for me."
Mydil said her sister's husband was found underneath the rubble of his collapsed home following the Jan. 12 earthquake. Her sister lived in a tent city in Carrefour for nearly four months but has since moved into a one-bedroom apartment with 10 people.
"It's a bad situation, but I have nothing to give her," Mydil said.
Mydil said her husband, who worked with her at the hotel, was nearly penniless when he died last month.
"He only had $300 left in his Bank of America account," she said. "He didn't have nothing for us."
Ty Thurman, the training director for Youth With a Mission, wrote a letter of gratitude to Mydil along with the $100 check.
"I wanted to write and say thank you so much for the honesty and integrity you showed," Thurman said. ". . . Because of your honesty, our Haiti relief team will be able to continue with their work to bless and help the people of that nation.
"We pray that God will bless your honesty."
Miami Herald Staff Writer Nadege Charles contributed to this report.
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