#PeopleofWilmDE: Raymond Taylor

Raymond Taylor is a Public Landscape Team Leader at the Delaware Center for Horticulture located in Trolley Square. Read his story as this week’s #PeopleOfWilmDE!

“I was born and lived in Wilmington most of my life. For seven years I was living in Brooklyn, New York – everything ran 24/7 – nothing shut down, you could go to the store late at night. When I came back to Delaware, I enjoyed the peace. Delaware shuts down at a certain time and with the changes that I have made in my life, I appreciate that calmness. 

A few favorite memories of mine include carnivals in the city, and playing with my Papa. Playing out in the streets late at night, jumping rope, and little kid games. I had a fun childhood going to arcades and visiting with my neighbors. There was a community you could depend on, I hope to see that coming back even more. 

I used to play all around these areas, so I never imagined working at the places I work at throughout Trolley Square. My work has so much impact on the area; I visit great places and connect with important people at the events DCH holds. 

Some of my great memories now are around Christmas time. I play the part of Buddy the Elf at DCH and take photos with the children. It’s important to make their memories bright and give them a positive experience. The kids get excited that they get a Santa and an elf that look like them. 

My proudest moment as a Wilmingtonian was when my kids, my grandkids, my wife, all watched me graduate from the Branches to Chances® program. I had never graduated from anywhere and then got the job to support my family – that’s my proudest moment. Being able to help my family, I can’t ask for better than that. 

Raymond Taylor of Wilmington, Delaware

A few interesting facts about me are:

  1. To my friends and family, I’m a comedian. Not a professional one, but I know people can remember me as a happy guy. I do my best to be respectful to people, lift them up. It doesn’t make a difference about your race, age or anything, I’m going to be kind and try to make your day better with a laugh. I like lifting others up with jokes and a positive attitude. Why wake up sad? Wake up happy! I like to have fun every day. Every day is a holiday!
  2. People are surprised that I like landscaping. It’s my career, but I enjoy it and it’s a much different place from where I came from.  The work makes me feel special because I look at small plants I work with and turn around two years later and see huge growth.
  3. I like spicy foods – I’m a spice lover.
  4. I like jumping off of high buildings. I’m not afraid of heights. As a kid I would jump from high places, usually with mats below, but now that I’m older I want to go skydiving and jump out of a plane. I want to do it alone though, nobody is holding me, I want to pull my own parachute cord. Or bungee jump – I want to do it by myself – just me though. 

I grew up in a poor household and let the peer pressure on the streets influence me into doing some bad stuff to avoid being teased. It turned me into a bad person, but now I got my life back. Working at DCH, I love my new life. Working every day, making something better and being a part of the team. It’s still a bustling city but it’s still calm and safer.

At first, I had no choice but to stay in Wilmington because I was on probation. Once I got off probation, I was working at this place called Walsh Chicken and they closed in 2013 so I was collecting unemployment for 4 years. I had a good friend named Bob Harris who used to ride around every day and say, ‘What are you doing Ray?’ So, I followed him to DCH in 2017 and enrolled in their Branches to Chances® program. 

I graduated and became an employee and my life changed thanks to DCH – thanks to Bob. I enjoy Delaware with my career, I got something I can live off and I can provide for my family. I feel like a man getting up in the morning going to work.

I’m cool with Delaware now all because of Bob Harris and DCH. He gave me another lifestyle to look at. I choose to make a better choice today to better my family and stay away from negative people. I like good things in my life, I like people that inspire, that understand that you can change and become something better than what you used to be. If I didn’t tell them, nobody would believe I was a bad guy, they wouldn’t believe it.

I always love when the carnivals come to town and community days in the parks. My favorite park is the one right by my work – Brandywine State Park. It’s so close and the water is relaxing. The Riverfront is nice too – I like the boat rides and the movie theater so close by. It’s a blessing to have these so close by. 

My favorite holiday is Christmas, so I love seeing the parades and all of the holiday attractions we have in the city. The lights, time with family—it’s a great atmosphere here.

My ideal night out would be to go down to the Riverfront. It’s really nice to sit by the water on the pier at a little picnic table or something, enjoy good food, and have a beer. The Riverfront is where I’d have my meal and hang out, but when it’s time to party, I’d go to Trolley Square. They block the street sometimes and the bars are fun. They throw a nice party around here all weekend – I can tell when I come to work and clean up on Mondays!

Wilmington has helped me professionally and personally as I try to make the right choices like staying in church and staying around positive people. I grew my career in Delaware through the Delaware Center for Horticulture and have made friends, and connections, and helped others in a similar situation to what I was in.  

When you hang around positive people, somebody with a job you’re bound to succeed too. 

I’m really excited about the work DCH is doing in the city. We’re beautifying little corners for everyone to enjoy. Me and my crew pick out beautiful flowers to plant, we weed, and all together try to make the city look beautiful and add spaces for wildlife. I’m also excited about the Riverfront improvements and the construction of new row houses in areas around the city. It’s great to see money invested in entertainment and our communities. 

They’re building some, but I’d like to see more houses and apartments being built throughout the neighborhoods of Wilmington and offered for people with lower incomes and the homeless. Just housing people and getting them off the streets could fix a lot of the problems this city deals with. 

They’re building up the Riverfront and tourism areas, so seeing more entertainment gets me excited and hopeful for the youth. If they could add in more arcades, community centers, and activities that our youth can enjoy, Wilmington would be an even better place to live. 

My advice to Wilmingtonians is, if you don’t have a spiritual house, find one. Church, whatever your religion is, get involved. It’s a place of community and you usually help others, and it makes you feel good doing good for others. The city can be a bit rough, so making sure you’re involved in a community is important. Helping others all on your own doesn’t always work, but working with a support group to make an impact usually does. 

Follow the Delaware Center for Horticulture on Facebook and Instagram.

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