Billyburg unites to help activist, Leonora Russo
by Holly Wilensky
Jun 10, 2011 | 19720 views | 0 0 comments | 933 933 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Leonora Russo and Norton, co-owner of Peachfrog.
Leonora Russo and Norton, co-owner of Peachfrog.
By Holly Wilensky

Are your neighbors lucky to live next door to you? Do you even know their names or anything about them? Whoever is lives next to Leonora Russo, or even in the same community, is considered lucky.

Leonora, a local neighborhood character and familiar face around Williamsburg, Brooklyn is 86 years young and has been a lifelong resident of New York City for the past, well, 86 years. Her entire life was spent taking care of both her husband and son who both are no longer living. As a widow, she took on a job with the school system as a monitor on local school buses for 18 years. While that paid a salary, her true passion for 33 years was as an activist for The People’s Fire House at 113 Berry Street. As a volunteer at the firehouse, she helped people with basic needs such as clothing, food and anything else that someone in the community might have reached out for.

Now, in her senior years, Leonora is the one reaching out for help.

The community is pulling together with the organization of Kurt Hill, the anti-arson specialist at The People’s Fire House for donations to be put towards Leonora’s living expenses. Even though she has been in the same apartment in Williamsburg for the past 60 years, the rising costs of medicine, food and transportation have put her in a situation where she is having difficulty making ends meet.

Three prominent staples of the community have pulled together to organize spreading the word for Lenora. Peachfrog (, The People’s Fire House and Teddy’s Bar and Grill are taking charge of making her life a little less stressful by starting a small community movement reaching out to the neighborhood that she has helped so much in her younger years, urging them to in turn help her in her time of need.

“Everybody knows me!” she said as the doorman from the next building greeted her enthusiastically. As much as she is loved and known around Williamsburg, it’s refreshing to her to see a community pull together the way these three businesses have.

“It’s just good neighbors”, says Norton, co-owner of the clothing store, Peachfrog. Norton and his staff has set up a small donation pot for Leonora. They will continue to spread the word to their customers and friends telling her story in hopes that the kindness of strangers will bring her some much needed joy in her golden years.

If you can donate money, services, coupons or anything else of need for a pillar of the Williamsburg community, please contact Kurt Hill of The People’s Fire House at In the meantime, drop in at Teddy’s for a beer: 96 Berry Street at North 8th and Peachfrog for a new outfit: 136 North 10th Street. Drop a couple of bucks in the pot for Lenora – it will be money well spent.

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