Mari and Aurelio Espinoza set up a little outdoor flower mart at the bodega on the northwest corner of 104th and Amsterdam in May. Originally from Mexico, the lovely couple brightens the neighborhood with the bouquets they arrange themselves, small potted plants, herbs and fragrant hanging plants.
On Tuesday night this week, Amy Meverden, a frequent customer who is friendly with the couple, learned that a terrible misfortune had befallen them: two people had stolen $400 worth of cash from Aurelio’s jacket that evening, as well as some of their back stock of flowers.
Though she speaks Spanish at a very basic level, Amy took the time to speak with them and learn what had happened. “They said they think people target them because they are poor and older, and this just breaks my heart,” Amy posted on the neighborhood app Nextdoor. “They also said maybe those people needed the money more than they did and God will provide for them.”
ILTUWS spoke with Amy about the incident; she says this was the first time this had ever happened to the Espinozas since they set up shop in the area. “Aurelio and Mari bring beauty and community to the neighborhood,” she said. “They greet humans and dogs with the same kindness, happy to exchange pleasantries with passersby.”
Amy used Nextdoor as her platform to rally the neighborhood to support Mari and Aurelio and “… patronize a truly kind, lovely, hardworking couple who make our neighborhood better.” Of course, Upper West Siders answered her call. “Paid my dues with pleasure and love,” wrote Ken Core with a photo of him and the smiling flower couple. “I’m going to take a walk and buy some flowers,” Danielle Gautier posted. “It’s such a shame this happens to older adults.”
So sad and infuriating–but also moving–to read this. Wonderful that Amy Meverden has taken the lead to help these lovely people. Wonderful that others nearby are answering the call. Wonderful that Reanna Armelino has written this story and that I Love the Upper West Side has published it. We see a lot of the best of humanity in this post, but also the worst. Hoping for much better days for Mari and Aurelio Espinoza.
When are the people of New York City going to understand what needs to be done to stop these terrible crimes from happening? Criminals need to be arrested and remain in jail where they belong. Until we change our way of voting these horrible crimes will continue.