Dr. Jennifer Daniels is leaving Syracuse and moving to Jamaica. This is the last part of a very sad story, not for Dr. Daniels, but for the Southside and Syracuse.
(Full disclosure: Dr. Daniels was my primary care physician and is a lifetime member of Syracuse United Neighbors, so I’m not very impartial.)
The story was not supposed to end this way. A bright young girl from the neighborhood pays her own way through college, collects three Ivy League degrees, becomes an M.D. After volunteering for a few years in an underserved Native American reservation area out west, Dr. Daniels could have done anything she wanted–fancy practice, serious income. Instead, she decided to open a family practice on the Southside. She built her home on one end of the block and a medical office on the other end.
She was active in the community. She spearheaded the drive SUN organized to prevent the development of the old Enrico’s Market into a bar/corner store. The city ended up buying the building and Syracuse Model Neighborhood built four new single family homes on that location. To celebrate, Dr. Daniel’s threw a neighborhood block party and bought all the new homeowners gift certificates for landscaping.
Remember the Dr. Daniel’s scholarships? Every year, students in the 13205 zip code received $1,000 scholarships based on their response to aan essay question on how they would use their education to improve their neighborhoods. Even in the depths of her fight with the state and with no income coming in, she gave out the scholarships.
I’ve written on this blog before about how Dr. Daniels was hounded out of the medical profession by the political enemies she made when she led the successful fight to defeat the “Avenue of the Arts” development boondoggle. She did nothing wrong medically, yet she can no longer practice medicine. That’s not how the story is supposed to end.
My theory has always been this–a sports metaphor. In football, there are two kinds of running backs: One kind of back is speedy and shifty with amazing spin moves–making all the defenders miss their tackles. The other back is the kind that runs you over, the kind that looks for more contact even if it looks like the field is wide open. Dr. Daniels was that second kind of back. She never backed away from a fight, even if it served no purpose. She had to win every argument, even at the risk of alienating people.
That’s not how this story is supposed to end. But it is ending this way. More vacant property and another crushed dream in a neighborhood that has taken more than its fair share of hits.
Good luck and god speed Dr. Daniels. We will miss you.