It no secret that Utica is the greatest little city in America. From the Utica Comets to Oscugnizzo’s Pizza, to Utica’s famous Chicken Riggies. Our city is wonderful place to be and live. If you’re from Utica you know how potential of this city and many see the hidden gems that make up our communities. We are no different than any other city in Upstate New York. But there is something special about Utica that you can’t duplicate or copy. We are authentic and we bring together so many into a melting pot of culture and opportunity.
One may read this and feel that it is absent of pragmatism or real lens of the reality of the city. However, I hold the audacity to hope and see the glass half full and not half empty. Im driven by the ideology that we must become the change we want to see. Every day no matter how hard we can make a change.
I grew up on the North side in a single parent home. My mother worked at a local bank and did she could to raise my sister and I. Like most families, we were supported in every way by strong grandparents; who helped my mother be the best she could. As a kid, I always felt called to helping others and encourage people to remain hopeful in the midst of unfortunate occurrence. The call led me first to the pulpit where I began ministry at the young age of ten. Even at ten, I traveled the country preaching a Social Gospel and becoming in local organizations like the NAACP. In high school, I organized the city’s first youth common council that gave voice to the thousands of young people in our community and worked with then Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi to create an advisory youth council, and even organized a delegation of youth to the United Nations. I’ll never forget those years of activism. To this day, countless young people tell me that seeing youth counselor in city hall inspired them better their lives and keep on track. My highlight was in 2014, organizing with the Alliance for Quality Education to bring buses of students to Albany to advocate fair educational funding. That year, we were to bring an additional 6 million to the budget for Utica City Schools. I learned the power of people and I became inspired to active in my community. We are all know that power.
The reality, every weekend coming home to Utica, I would see a city with great potential but a city non the less still on need of help. Living in Cornhill, we see the struggles that face so many people. A housing market in need of improvement, socioeconomic issues that need to be addressed, and so many young people with little option of recreation; we need all hands on deck. So in may, I walked across the stage in Rochester knowing that I needed to come home to bring back everything that I’ve learned to help the community I love.
As a Christian, I am taught that “charity begins at home.” That has stuck with me this entire time. I came back to Utica because utica is home and I believe in this community. I came back because I believe collectively we can our city around and with so many people leaving I thought the only place I would be truly happy is in utica serving and working toward that vision. So when friends ask me: “Delvin why did you go back?”. My response is simple, It’s no place like home.