Those driving past the Milo Foundation in Richmond now have a bright spirit helping to uplift their day.
On what would have been his 21st birthday on Sunday, community members gathered to celebrate a new memorial banner to Otilio “Nico” Martinez erected along the fence of the Milo Foundation at 220 S. Garrard Blvd.
Martinez, both a volunteer at Milo and a devoted dog owner, was fatally shot on Sept. 19, 2016, in front of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, while walking home from work. Multiple young men believed to be gang members were arrested in connection with the homicide. Nico, however, was not part of a gang, and his murder struck a chord in the community.
A memorial to Martinez at the Milo Foundation has been in the works for months, part of a true community effort.
On Sunday, Diego Garcia, owner of Leftside Printing on 23rd Street, which created the memorial banner, and Dave Schoenthal, president of the Point Richmond Business Association, joined Martinez’s family and friends to unveil the banner. The memorial was made possible through sponsorships by Leftside Printing, funds raised by the Point Richmond Business Association’s Picnic in the Point in October last year, and Schoenthal.
The ceremony included the release of 21 doves in honor of the well-loved Martinez.
Now, Nico’s bright memory will light up the heavily-trafficked corridor.
“His smile continues to light up the world,” his grateful mother Josie Martinez, a community advocate, said. “His memory and legacy will never fade.”
She said so many young people are killed due to senseless gun violence and their memories forgotten. “Everyone is special to someone,” she said.
In our earlier report on this effort, Schoenthal lauded the “beautiful, loving way” community bonds created the memorial, while Garcia, who was director of an after-school program attended by Nico at Cesar Chavez Elementary, remarked, “This is the life of one of our kids in Richmond.”