Often referred to as the City of Hills, Yonkers has long had a Jekyll-and-Hyde quality to it. There are those who sit atop its many hills and those who dwell at the bottom – affluence amidst poverty, abundance alongside want.
Three days ago a Yonkers man was shot to death on the city’s streets in the middle of the day. He was a husband and father and his death occurred two days before his one-year marriage anniversary. Instead of celebrating the occasion, however, his wife must now worry about costs related to her husband’s burial, costs which her family cannot afford.
It is a tale of two cities. Just before Christmas back in 2015, the Yonkers City Council voted unanimously to give itself a pay raise. Regular city council members gave themselves a 26.6% increase, the council president granted himself a 12.9% percent increase to $74,000, and the majority and minority leaders bestowed themselves with a generous 39% increase in pay amounting to $58,000 for part-time work. Christmas came early for our city council.
More recently Yonkers Mayor Spano has been saturating the media with the latest version of his Yonkers branding efforts, “Generation Yonkers,” which seeks “to reposition Yonkers as the next great urban frontier.” At $325,000 the Mayor’s marketing campaign carries a hefty price tag. However, as Spano tirelessly likes to reminds his city’s residents,
Yonkers is undergoing an economic renaissance with more than $1 billion in development under way. According to the city’s Department of Planning and Development, Yonkers has more than 5,000 multi-family residential units recently completed, under construction and approved for development. The city’s hotel market is also booming with approximately 1,200 rooms. Since 2012, the Department of Planning and Development has been responsible for winning 13 grants valued at more than $10 million and has administered a total of more than $40 million of existing grants during the past four years.
On the other side of the city, though, at the bottom of the hill and away from the slick media marketing campaigns, there is a different city, one short on optimism and opportunity. A city where a 26-year-old widower and now single parent must resort to online crowdfunding in order to bury her murdered husband.
Derrick Ubiles was the man I wanted to spend my life growing old with but I’ll never get that chance and his daughter will only know her father through our memories & stories. How do I explain to his daughter that daddy will never be with us anymore I need any help you’re willing to offer to help me get through his funeral and for the road ahead. Life is uncertain and your generosity will be a much-needed reminder that there are kind people in this world. Thank you for reading this and any donation size is extremely appreciated.
Her husband’s aunt conveys the urgency and direness of the family’s situation:
My nephew was tragically taken from us 3/15/17! Gunned down on the street in broad daylight. He was a son, husband, father, brother, uncle, nephew […] No one is prepared for this mentally and this has posed a financial strain on our family and we are in need of any monetary help that you are able to donate! We are not asking for an amount to lay him to rest lavishly, just anything that will enable us at this time to give Derrick a proper home going.
Yonkers – a city with $1 billion in development and city council members with tens of thousands of dollars in raises, but where the decency and dignity of a $5,000 burial for one of its city’s residents seems strangely out of reach.
Donations can be made to the family via the following link:
AJ is a Father, Author, Writer, Rapper, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian and A Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine and several others.
You can also hear AJ every Thursday morning at 7:20 A.M. on Good Morning Westchester with host Bob Marrone on WVOX