by John Santos
32BJ SEIU Vice President
Last week as a winter storm hit our region hard we tragically lost one of our residential brothers in New York City, Miguel Gonzalez, who died in an accident while shoveling snow at his building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.
Miguel worked for 33 years at his building and took tremendous pride in working hard to keep the building clean and welcoming.
At home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he lived with his wife Elena he was very active in his church the Iglesia Cristiana de Renacer. Known for his joyous disposition and sunny smile as well as his dedication to helping others, Miguel and his wife decided a few years to take two women who were members of their church and one of the women’s young son into their home after they had fallen on hard times.
Along with his active membership in the church, Miguel loved fishing and camping and being out in nature.
Along with his wife, his son Roger, 3 grandchildren, extended family and members of his church, this is a great loss for Miguel’s coworkers, building residents and all those who knew him.
His niece Lissette Colón said that the family has been very moved by the outpouring of love and concern they’ve received from people in New York and Connecticut.
“The house has been overflowing with people non-stop— he impacted their lives in positive and moving way. You think you know someone— when you start listening to other people and how he made a difference in their lives– you realize it’s not a job title and not the amount money you make that’s important, it’s how you can impact someone’s life with the human touch. He was a perfect example of that.”
Miguel was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He met his wife while she was vacationing on the island and then moved to New York to be with her.
His dream was to return to the island for his retirement. The family will bury him in Carolina, Puerto Rico, near where his parents grew up.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and family and all those who knew and cared about him, including his coworkers and the residents of his building. Our union family will do all we can to support Miguel’s family in this difficult time.
This is a tremendous loss for Miguel’s family, including all of us in his union family. But he leaves behind a legacy of deep kindness and compassion that will always be remembered and that we can all work hard every day to share some of the joy, love and empathy that Miguel shared with all that knew him.
While we can’t compensate his family for their loss, we can sympathize and show our support during this difficult time. Individual 32BJ members can contribute to the 32BJ Solidarity Fund by clicking link below: