When Dwayne Betts wanted to reach out to the family of Elijah Gomez to write about him for the New York Times Magazine annual feature The Lives They Lived, he started with Eli’s obituary and used that as a resource to try to find a way to contact us. After a few attempts to track down contact info, Dwayne was attracted to a statement in the obit about his love for nature. It turns out Dwayne was an old friend of the then-Executive Director for Gather New Haven, Brent Peterkin. When Dwayne approached Brent to see how he could talk to the family, Brent knew immediately who Eli was and just how to connect Dwayne with Eli’s Aunt and Uncle, who are also the co-founders of Eli’s Garden of Healing.
“Passionate about nature, Elijah spent time volunteering on many occasions with Gather New Haven cleaning trash and building trails at the Long Wharf, Pond Lily, and Quinnipiac Meadows Nature Preserves. He loved camping with his grandmother and especially loved being around water. “Excerpt from Elijah’s Obituary
Dwayne’s goal in writing the piece about Elijah was to honor the life of a young man who lost his life too soon, due to gun violence. Historically, the section The Lives They Lived pays tribute to the lives of celebrities and famous people who have died that year. The annual series has featured Muhammed Ali, Natalie Cole, Frank Sinatra Jr., Breonna Taylor, and Chadwick Boseman. Dwayne has even written for this series in the past for names like Bill Withers. This year the New York Times Magazine wanted to do something different. They wanted to tell the stories of kids who have died in 2022 from guns. Use the magazine to stimulate more conversation on this important topic. Our family was honored to be approached and included in this unique, and touching series.
Our family is so grateful for the many, many interviews Dwayne conducted and for spending countless hours hearing the memories of Elijah which we hold so close to our hearts. His piece turned out beautifully and truly captures the essence of Elijah’s passion for spending time in greenspace.
Eli’s story in the magazine explores the love of nature which Dwayne had learned about in Elijah’s obituary. We encourage everyone to check out the piece and would love to hear your thoughts. While there, take the time to read the stories of the other children featured.
Gun violence is taking over our country. We have to do better and protect our children.