PROCEEDS FROM "MURDERED BY MUMIA"
Neither Maureen Faulkner nor I are accepting any of the proceeds from the sale of the book "Murdered By Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain, and Injustice." Instead, any income from our three year investment in the writing of the book will be a charitable donation.
All author proceeds from the book will go toward Justice for Police Officer Daniel Faulkner, the 501c(3) non-profit originally organized by Maureen in 1998 to honor Danny's memory and to combat the propaganda of those apologizing for the man convicted of killing her husband.
Since then, she has expanded the mission of that entity, and now makes scholarship grants to the children of murder victims in the City of Philadelphia. Lord knows, there are plenty of potential recipients of her generosity which is itself a silver lining to the execution of her husband 26-years ago.
Because of advance sales, on December 10, 2007, I will donate $170,000 to her non-profit. This money will then be directed to the educational needs of Philadelphia youth who have lost a parent to violence. Young adults like Erma Aponte.
The story of Erma Aponte is representative of those the educational fund has sought to help. In 2000, less than two weeks before Christmas, Erma's father Jamie was killed while driving his taxi – shot just minutes after he finished eating dinner at the Aponte's North Philadelphia home.
Just minutes after he had told Erma he'd try to earn the $50 she needed to submit an application to computer school.
At the time, police suspected that whoever killed Jamie intended to rob him. He became the third cabbie shot in the city that month, and his murder left six children without a father.
Not long after Jamie Aponte was killed, Jerry Watkins, who was then one of the stable of volunteers who make Justice for Police Officer Danny Faulkner work, called Erma to tell her Maureen Faulkner wanted to give her $5,000 to put towards college. Erma told Jerry Watkins: "It shows my dad is still watching over me." (Watkins, himself a gem of a man, has since left this earth.)
I often wonder what else Jamie Aponte sees as he watches over Philadelphia. No doubt he's watching a city still buckling under the weight of the violence that claimed his life – and left his daughter to earn her keep before she even applied to do so.
These are days in which nobody is safe. Philadelphia's drug market continues to fog our streets, many of our city�s families are scattered and broken, and those sworn to protect us are enduring an unparalleled tension. Six police officers have been shot over the last two months.
This makes Maureen Faulkner's work – done today in Police Officer Danny Faulkner's name – even more significant. Just ask these students, each the recipient of a $5,000.00 grant:
Aking Beverly Cabrini College
Justin Frisby Cabrini College
Erma Aponte CHI Institute
Dana Dutch Community College of Philadelphia
Charles Ritterson Wesley College
Zilika Meade Art Institute of Philadelphia
William Billy Kite Kutztown State University
Michael Selby Frankford School of Nursing
Edward Fields University of Pittsburgh
Nicole Ballard Pierce College
Kaitlin Eichhorn Philadelphia University
Angela Ahmarov Gwynedd Mercy Academy
Anthony Bruno To be determined (Graduates 2008)
Gina Capriotti Jean Madeline Institute
David Capriotti To be determined (Graduates 2009)
Nora R. Rafferty LaSalle University
Tyzahvon McCloud Penn State University- Schuylkill Campus
"We wanted to actually help them in some way and we determined that the best thing we could do was to assist the children in furthering their education," Maureen told me. "That's why we began providing educational grants for the children of murder victims and those who have had a parent severely disabled in an attempted murder."
"So many people needlessly lose their lives in my home town and after the initial news buzz their families are left alone to pick up the pieces. We founded the educational fund to help the survivors and to let them know that as survivors of murder they are part of an extended family."
Those wishing to apply for education grants can write to Maureen Faulkner at PO Box 39270, Philadelphia, PA 19136.
"Murdered by Mumia: A Life Sentence of Loss, Pain and Injustice" is on sale everywhere.
Michael A. Smerconish
December 1, 2007