When Samantha Clyne’s parents got divorced during her sophomore year at in high school, her biggest worry was how her twin sister — who was just entering intermediate school — was going to adjust to the dramatic change in their lives.
The sisters had always been close, but the change intensified their relationship.
“The divorce brought us together,” she said. “I became like a mommy sister.”
They got through it together, and from that moment on, the Grenada-born Clyne decided she would dedicate a portion of her life helping families in need.
Clyne’s education set the course: at Clara Barton High, she was accepted into the MACY’s Medical Honors Program, and the Arthur Ashe program that connected her to SUNY Downstate Hospital in East Flatbush, starting her on her way.
She then studied forensic psychology at John Jay College, and after volunteering as a social worker dealing with sex offenders, she moved to jobs helping formerly homeless people transition from shelters to residences, first at the Doe Fund and now at CAMBA Gardens.
It is there that she’s made the most difference, helping residents with mental illness find their way.
Families such as the Elizabeth Melendez’s — a mom of three whose divorce and a bout with depression and agoraphobia ended with a stay in a homeless shelter.
Things began to turn around when she met Clyne.
“I had to hold her hand and help her find her way,” Clyne said. “I would call her to make sure she was getting to her appointments, and would help get her out of the house an on her way.”
And during their conversations, Clyne said she had to constantly remind Melendez that she is still a person.
“She now considers me a part of her extended family,” Clyne said. “She knows she has someone she can depend on.”
Clyne’s magic touch doesn’t go unnoticed.
“She cares deeply about all of her clients, goes that extra 10 miles, and lets them know they always have someone to give them a hand,” said Beverly Cheuvront of CAMBA, who nominated Clyne. “She sets a standard that everyone working to end homelessness should aspire to.”
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Social Worker, CAMBA
“Just do it.” It sums up accountability.
PERSON I ADMIRE MOST:
My mother Diane Clyne.