Goddard Riverside Community Center Executive Director Stephan Russo expressed deep appreciation on receiving the Community Free Democrats’ Distinguished Community Leader Award on Sunday.
“I’m very humbled,” said Russo. “And this is really quite an honor, because even though I’ve been in the neighborhood for 40 years and seen the changes on the West Side, there is one thing that never, never changes on the West Side —and that is the incredible caring and commitment and involvement that this community has.
“I’m the one who is honored to be serving this community. There is not a thing that we do at Goddard Riverside that we do alone.”
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer introduced Russo with a rousing speech, recognizing Goddard Riverside’s homeless outreach teams, senior programs, home delivered meals, community arts events and supportive housing, among other efforts.
“Twenty-six programs at 21 sites,” Brewer enthused, “helping people at each and every one!”
U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer praised Russo’s impact on the community and reminisced about their childhood days attending the same sleepover camp. The two even treated the crowd to an impromptu camp-song performance.
Russo has worked for Goddard Riverside nearly nonstop since 1976, and has headed it since 1998. He has led the historic settlement house through significant expansions designed to stabilize and expand much-needed community services, including a merger with St. Matthew’s and St. Timothy’s Neighborhood Center and now a merger with Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center.