Man in a Van

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
Winston Churchill

Americans are the most generous of the generous.  Thousands of dollars flow in for all disasters whether they are on United States or foreign soil.  Individual tragedies don’t get much press.  Take a minute to read this excerpt:

Living in His Van, Trying to Rebuild a Life Upended by a Bullet

judy’s P.S.:  Mr Leonik does not go to a public shelter because animals are not allowed and he can not give up Sonia, his Boston Terrier.


05cityroom-badleg-blog480“Andrzej Leonik’s problems started one summer night in 2006 after he returned from his carpentry job, changed shirts into a red tank top and took his Boston terrier, Sonia, for a walk on 56th Drive in Maspeth, Queens, where he lived.”

“Suddenly, a man in a green Cadillac pulled up, aimed a 9-millimeter pistol at Mr. Leonik and shot him in the right leg. Mr. Leonik fell, and Sonia jumped onto his chest.”

“The bullet shattered Mr. Leonik’s femur and his life, which has unraveled in the ensuing years. Now he and Sonia spend their days and nights living in his 2005 minivan. On cold nights he leaves the engine running, and his dog sleeps on his chest as he reclines in the front seat.”

“Recently, I woke up with frostbite on my toe,” Mr. Leonik, 53, said in a recent interview outside the van.

“The shooter was Matthew Colletta, an unemployed bricklayer with a long history of mental illness and erratic behavior. Mr. Colletta, then 34, went on a serial shooting spree that night in August 2006, leaving one person dead and five wounded, including Mr. Leonik.”

“After the shooting, Mr. Leonik underwent a series of surgeries to repair his right femur. Fifteen long screws were put in, to stabilize the damaged bone. But to this day, Mr. Leonik’s leg still causes him pain and swells to nearly double the width of his left leg, so that he cannot pull on a pair of loose jeans. Since the shooting he has been unable to climb stairs or lift heavy objects.”

“He lost a full-time job working for a contractor renovating Manhattan apartments and has been limited to part-time carpentry. After a couple of days on his feet, he needs nearly a week of rest to let the swelling and pain in his leg subside, he said. He walks with a cane and is waiting to be scheduled for a knee replacement, which he hopes will allow him to work more than the part-time schedule he puts in for a contractor renovating a townhouse in Long Island City.”

Mr. Leonik said that after living for seven years in his Maspeth apartment he fell behind in rent and was forced out by a marshal in August.”

“Mr. Leonik, adding that he has been unable to secure public assistance and other social services because he has not been able to get help completing required paperwork.”

“He said that when the cold night permeates his minivan and Sonia is shivering on his chest and his leg is throbbing, he begins to envy others, even the man who shot him. At least prisoners have their meals and shelter provided for, at taxpayer expense.”

“Still, he said, he would not switch places with him. He hopes to borrow money to rent a simple studio and get back on his feet.”

“I came here to make a better life and support my kids in college,” he said. “I should be able to prosper on my own and get out of this predicament.”


Every life matters.  Please send $1.00,  $5, $10, $100 – whatever you can afford –
Checks and messages can be sent directly to him…
Mr. Andrzej Leonik
P.O. Box 863697, Ridgewood, N.Y. 11386
Checks made to Andrzej Leonik, account number 1088364,  written on the check, and sent to his bank at this address, Polish&Slavick Federal Credit Union, 140 Greenpoint Avenue,Brooklyn N.Y. 11222

for a gallon of gas,  dinner for him and Sonia, housing .

Click here to read the entire New York Times article: 

3 thoughts on “Man in a Van

  1. Thank you so much for posting this article Judy. I read this article in the NYTimes a few days ago, and immediately emaied the reporter, to get a contact to send him $100. He
    gave me the name of the interpreter. Both of us are now, trying to raise money, because he isn’t eligible for any kind of disability, or food stamps. The doctors told him, he has to be inside in order for him to have the operation to fix his leg. What their worried about is an infection. His van isn’t big enough that he can lay down and has to sleep in the front seat.
    I think the best thing I ever to is to act quickly to help a perfect stranger and know that I can make a difference in his life, especially in a way that they can’t. Please give generously, you will be blessed in so many ways.


Wadda ya say? Comments HERE! (Depending on energy, I may not be able to respond to every comment but I READ every word of every comment!)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.