Community advocate Rosa Gibson passed away last Friday. See her Buffalo News obituary here.
Rosa was the epitome of the Little Red Hen. Outwardly, she moved mountains to help her community, but in private, she wondered aloud why more people didn’t help her to help them. She appreciated every bit of heavy-lifting others did, but she wanted more cooperation from those who needed the help most.
I met Rosa in her community garden a few years back, and though her obituary said she was 78 at the time of her death, I wouldn’t have been able to ascribe such an advanced age to this seemingly tireless sister of the community. Gibson did God’s work, and she worked hard. Her strength was palpable.
Among the many who helped her – other community advocates, the local government, high school students in need of community service hours, one wonders if there will ever be another Rosa who will organize the troops as she did. Of all she grew in her garden, did Rosa plant a seed for a successor?
As we walked through her garden and she told me about the trials and tribulations, her objectives were evident. Even when her words signaled despair, it was obvious that her heart held hope, that each morning when her feet hit the floor, Rosa had one thought in mind, and that was to make things better. “Better” must have been her mantra, and at the end of the day, Rosa often settled for a fraction of return on her tremendous output. Still, all of her little victories added up.
I hope dear Rosa, our uncrowned queen, can see that in hindsight. I hope she understands the world of good she brought to her little section of Buffalo’s East Side.
In her garden, where she lovingly filled discarded shoes with dirt and flowers as a kitschy-comic touch to the vegetables growing nearby, Rosa pointed to a pair of enormous men’s work botos. Picking one up, with a wink and a laugh, she said, “I’d like to find the man that can fill these.”
Who will fill Rosa’s?