GREENPOINT — A Polish immigrant who died with no immediate family will have a funeral thanks to the kindness of dozens of neighbors.
After Krystyna Nowak, 78, died last month, and no close relatives could be found, her neighbors in Greenpoint banded together and raised more than $3,000, securing a donated cemetery plot and having funeral costs discounted so their friend would be saved a pauper's burial.
"It's just really good to know that so many people care about her," said Aneta Kuclo, a worker at Amber Health, a senior center on India Street that Nowak had recently started visiting.
"I wish she knew before that so many people care and so many people are willing to help."
Nowak will be buried next to her son at Calvary Cemetery in Sunnyside, Queens.
"I was a little bit concerned that people wouldn't think it was important to help somebody who's already dead," said Heather Morgan, 42, who lived across the hall from her friend and set up the GoFund Me page.
"It's been the exact opposite. I just thought, this is the right thing to do to honor this person."
Morgan discovered Nowak collapsed in the hallway of the building they lived in on August 18.
"I felt very happy that I was the one who found her," she said. "She wasn't alone in her apartment."
A neighbor donated a piece of her family plot for Nowak, while Arthur's Funeral Home discounted costs for the funeral and wake.
Nowak, who'd lived on India Street for around 30 years, worked the coat check at now-shuttered nightclub The Exit. Neighbors remembered her black attire and sparkly sweaters.
"I had just a soft spot for her," Morgan said.
Nowak will be buried next to her son Andrzej, who died a year earlier, neighbors said. They remembered his mother as dedicated to caring for him through an illness.
"It broke my heart to see her [at the hospital] opening till closing," said Eryka Volker, 67, founder of Homeless SOS, which does outreach to the homeless and needy, especially in Greenpoint's Polish community.
Volker, who also donated a piece of her family's burial plot to Andrzej, is now doing the same for his mother.
She wasn't surprised that the Greenpoint community banded together to help.
"That's our American heart. We are people of giving," Volker said.
"We see help is needed and help comes."