Viewpoint: Wilmington needs our support for a bright future
By Gloria Ruci
As I picture Delaware’s future and try to imagine my own purpose in this imposing vision, I look no further than right outside my balcony, where the Interstate 95 ‘Restore the Corridor’ infrastructure rehabilitation project is in full effect.
Night after night, I can vaguely distinguish a group of construction workers shouting loudly at one another as they cautiously stroll I-95 amidst all of the dust and debris clouding the sunset. These men and women are bringing real change to a city which has seen decades worth of distress and abandonment, and in the few short months since I moved to Wilmington, I am slowly, but surely, learning that Delaware politicians, stakeholders, and developers have already tried to reconceptualize our region’s infrastructure and rebuild our community.
To the sweet little boys who stand on the corner of West 4th Street and North Adams Street selling water bottles out of a cooler every weekend, you are our future. To the dozens of frisky high schoolers from all walks of life who play basketball every evening on the courts in Wilmington before I make a final left turn on Martin Luther King Boulevard to go home, you are our future. To the Hispanic gentleman who offers me a bouquet of daisies every time I take Exit 6 back to my Riverfront apartment, I appreciate your kindness, and your determination to make an honest living.
To the young boy who approached my car window as I was offering the Hispanic gentleman a $5 bill for the flowers and tried to snatch my money, I forgive you. I was impatiently waiting for the traffic light on North Jackson Street to turn green around 10 p.m with no end in sight, so once more, to the young, bright-eyed boy who I saw through my car window: I honestly don’t know why you’re not home right now, or where your parents are at this time of the hour, but I hope you also find your way in this world. You are our future, and you deserve a chance at a fair, comfortable life in Delaware when you grow up, and start your own family one day.
To the young woman who chatted with a city policeman while sitting on the corner across from the Emmanuel Dining Room and eating off of a Styrofoam plate, you deserve better. As the cardboard tents, soiled sleeping bags, and battered pieces of laundry continue to pile up under I-95, I cannot help but feel anguish as I watch these young children and impoverished youth aimlessly walk these streets and beg for help, despite a sign mounted on the corner near Liberty Gas Station, unattractively covered in graffiti, which states ‘No Panhandling.’
As a young twenty-something, I could never imagine that someone my age, with all of the vigor and energy available to them, would sleep outside under I-95 on a concrete slab, and fail to take control of their life at such a young age. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s a shame.
Our children and our youth deserve better, and of course, this all starts in the classroom, and especially, at home. We need more leaders in Wilmington’s community to step up and do more outside of their day job to heal these poor children. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage Wilmington’s most vulnerable communities, now is the time for the city’s community leaders, your friends, and your neighbors to inspire those precious little boys and young go-getters. This includes me.
Gloria Ruci is a pharma/biopharma account manager at Agilent Technologies.