Behind every strong community, there are people that are crucial to keeping the area unified. Be it local businessmen or volunteers at community centers, these people are a must. The river waterfront neighborhood of Bridesburg is no exception. Below you will find five different people in Bridesburg that, whether they realize it or not, are key to keeping the area’s community strong.
As the manager at Renzi’s Pizzeria for the past sixteen years, Phil Stewart has worked and lived in Bridesburg for a large part of his life. He knows the community and the history of Renzi’s. The founder of Renzi’s, Ramsey “Renzi” Wotjkwoski – a Bridesburg native, engineered the idea to create his pizza differently than most places in the area, putting the cheese on the bottom and sauce on top. Stewart said that the pizzeria is heavily involved in the community – they constantly donate to local baseball teams, as well as organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and the Bridesburg Recreation Center.
Since 1946, Lachowicz Quality Foods has supplied the Bridesburg neighborhood with traditional Polish style foods, from pierogies to kielbasa. The man keeping this institution strong is Robert Lachowicz, the third generation of his family to keep the store growing. Lachowicz said that it originally opened as a candy store and that through the years, numerous additions have been made. The store currently makes 15 to 20 homemade products. Lachowicz and his store have been a mainstay in the community for years.
Marc Collazzo serves as the District Office Manager for state representative John Taylor. Taylor’s office, located on Richmond Avenue near Bridesburg Elementary, serves as a destination for neighborhood residents who want something done. Collazzo said that the goal of Taylor and his team is to serve the people.
“Basically, we do what the people ask,” Collazzo said. “I’ve taken out trash, gone to court for residents and spoken with state legislators about up-keeping the neighborhood. We just want to keep the people happy.”
The Boys and Girls Club is an integral part of the Bridesburg community. Behind the Bridesburg Boys and Girls Club is Program Director Jason Newman. Newman runs programs for children ranging from six-weeks-old through 19-years-old. Newman runs programs in education, art and character, athletics and community engagement.
“A lot of what we work on is literacy, helping them through school because it’s such a difficult time for them,” Newman said.
Jacqueline Desanctis, or simply “Miss Jackie” as residents call her, has been an active member of the Bridesburg Recreation Center for nearly fifty years.
“Although I retired in 2005, I’ve continued to work here as a volunteer,” Desanctis said.
Desanctis’ commitment to the people of Bridesburg has not gone unnoticed. She was recently honored with a key to the city. However, she claims that her love and dedication of Bridesburg is in part to due the people who live there.
“You can’t have a good community if the people don’t want it or care,” Desanctis said. “But they do. It’s because of them that I’m still here.”
– Text and images by Colin Tansits and Francine Mensah.