Harlem residents call Loreen Reynolds the Energizer Bunny: giving, efficient, selfless, even bossy.
For all those reasons, she was named on Thursday as the Harlem Woman’s Club 2011 Citizen of the Year.
“I do a lot, but there’s a lot of people that do it with me,” said Reynolds, when surprised with the award.
Harlem United Methodist Church Pastor Tom Drake, in a letter read at the ceremony, said Reynolds has a heart for serving others.
“You make people feel they are loved and worth the kindness and compassion you bestow on them,” Drake wrote.
Reynolds is co-chair of the Harlem Methodist Outreach Committee and a preschool teacher. She organizes the Saturday Sacks program, which provides food for needy children on weekends; the annual church Pumpkin Patch; collects and delivers supplies to local prisons; and prepares meals and delivers food to those in need.
“Loreen, you make people feel very good about themselves and you show them the love of God,” said Debbie Nunley, who works with Reynolds at the church. “And this is very much a great ministry that you perform with a Christ-like heart.”
Reynolds has a particular interest in helping children. Paula Green, who works the preschool with Reynolds, called her a “busy bee” who loves children.
Reynolds, who has two sons, ran a daycare from her home and calls those children “my babies.”
Lindsay Matherly, 16, stayed with “Reen” until she went to kindergarten and said Reynolds was like her second mother.
“Reen could not have made a better childhood for us,” Lindsay said. “You will always be so close to my heart and I love you.”
Reynolds’ husband, Steve, said he supported her as she opened her home to many children during their 21 years in Harlem.
“I really believe this is her calling from God,” Steve Reynolds said. “It takes a very special woman to do what she does.”
Reynolds also volunteers as treasurer at Attic Treasures, a charitable thrift store in Harlem, where colleagues said she’s the driving force.
Through that store, Reynolds organizes, shops for and distributes Christmas gifts and necessities to needy children.
“This year, some 70 children received a Christmas they (otherwise) would not have had,” said Rozell Germany, head of the Woman’s Club selection committee. “She has an army of shoppers she leads in a 24-hour shopping marathon (on Black Friday).”
Reynolds said though she’s from Maine, Harlem is home.
“I couldn’t do what I do if it wasn’t for Steve,” Reynolds said. “I’m very thankful. This is where we were meant to be. ... This is home and we’re blessed.”