By Onel Hidalgo, Community Outreach Manager, NYCHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience
Robert White had the type of presence you couldn’t ignore. He would catch your attention the moment he entered a room. Always joyful and energetic – it seemed he never had a bad day. Mr. White applied that same energy and optimism toward his work at NYCHA. As a resident of Red Hook Houses, he took pride in helping his community recover from Superstorm Sandy. He understood what NYCHA residents experienced during Sandy because he lived through it as well.
Mr. White joined NYCHA’s Superstorm Sandy Outreach Team in 2014 and quickly established himself as a leader. He never shied from a task, whether he was asked to help residents temporarily relocate from Sandy-damaged apartments or introduce Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference to announce new standards for greenhouse gas emissions in the city. Mr. White demonstrated time and again that he was always ready for a challenge, even as he attended evening classes to earn his degree in forensic psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His passion and commitment to NYCHA and the Red Hook community served as an inspiration to many on his team. Micaela O’Connell, Community Liaison for NYCHA’s Office of Recovery and Resilience, remembers Mr. White as someone who “honored the dignity of individuals from all walks of life and encouraged everyone to honor their own.”
Mr. White developed lasting friendships wherever he went because he truly cared. He was always willing to listen and lend a helping hand – whether someone needed career advice or film recommendations (he would usually recommend 1980s Eddie Murphy films), Mr. White was always there. His infectious laugh would almost guarantee you walked away with a smile anytime you spoke with him.
Mr. White will truly be missed.