Requiem for a panhandler

Requiem for a panhandler
Community Newspaper Group / Joe Anuta

A well-known panhandler who plied his trade outside a Carroll Gardens subway station died earlier this month.

A memorial was set up near the steps leading into the Carroll Street station for Gilberto Medina, a wheelchair-bound, homeless veteran.

A single candle burned near bouquets of flowers and a dark photo of Medina. Notes from friends hung from the subway handrail, and curiously, someone had placed a plate of sandwiches on the sidewalk.

The shrine sat mere feet from where Medina had greeted work-bound straphangers for two decades.

“He was the greeter,” said resident Taylor Sanchez. “There was something great about descending the stairs to the subway station each morning and being acknowledged.”

Medina’s sudden absence highlights the love-hate relationship often associated with local panhandlers. Many can be a nuisance, but over time they grow inseparable from the corners they haunt — which is why residents are often touched when someone such as Medina is gone.

“This is so sad. We all liked him.” said resident Victory Stewart, seeing the memorial for the first time instead of hearing Medina’s voice. “People expect to see him.”

A makeshift shrine has been set up.
Community Newspaper Group / Joe Anuta

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