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Leonora Buluchova - Woman of the Year

Ari Kagan's interview with Leonora Bulychova:

It’s very important for anyone in any country to not feel alone. Things like communicating with friends and neighbors, attending concerts and celebrating holidays, taking trips and meeting interesting people – all can prevent isolation and save from loneliness. This is what the club "A-Elita" is for and this is what club's presiden Leonora Bulychova, a woman possessing a great deal of energy, creativity and endless desire to help people, is doing in Bensonhurst (Brooklyn).

I interviewed Leonora Bulychova on the eve of an important event - the upcoming presentation of the club "A-Elita" that will take place on Sunday, August 20, at 12 noon in the restaurant "Ogni Baku" (2707 86 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11214). Telephone number for club "A-Elita": 347-495-2669 – Leonora.

Leonora, why is your club called A-Elita? Why such an unusual name? Does it have anything to do with creating an elite club of some kind?

First of all, thank you, Ari, for the interview and the interest shown to us.

Aelita is my mother’s name. She was an incredible woman who survived the hell of World War 2. During the war, as she was dying of hunger, dying of typhus, she not only managed to survive but, having withstood all these horrors, remained the kindest person. An intelligent, cultured, educated, a Jewish doctor in the Soviet Union, she buried her husband, my father, Boris Lipovich - also a hero, a disabled veteran. She gave to me and my brother a full life; she lived for us and for her grandchildren. Her noble heart stopped beating in 2015 and it is in memory of my mother that I opened a club in her name, "A-Elita". To immortalize her name was my first goal.  

When and for whom was this club created? What is happening in it?

When I formed the club, I did not know who would be interested in its work. First participants where the elderly American women who appeared at the door with the question "How much?" - prompting an answer "Free of charge!". But even free membership was not enough to break the wall of mistrust.  Gradually, as the information about the club spread through word-of-mouth, it came to be as written in the Torah: "And He saw that it was good!". As they saw that the club was also "good", people started coming in, at first mainly women aged 62+.  Now, 2 years later, the club still exists, without any tricks or deception. I built the club on the same principles that exist in any good family - trust and respect.

I began to conduct yoga classes three times a week - with music, fun and easy. I noticed an interesting "bonus" effect that I did not even count on: during class, the distance that normally exists between Americans and Russian-speaking participants and the sense of alienation seem to disappear as everyone becomes young again. I also began to organize trips to Manhattan museums and places of interest. We visited Rockefeller Center to see Christmas decorations. We started celebrating birthdays and other holidays together. "Together" is a key word for my club.  Over time I started inviting special guests who could teach us something different, like the arts teacher who for 4 hours turned us into "Raphaels" and every one of us took home her own small masterpiece. What talented women we become after 62! famous.

We also had some very famous Russian-speaking singers and musicians perform in our club. With the support of Assemblyman William Colton our club conducted a series of children’s concerts. We organized a festival of children's creativity in honor of our heroes - policemen and firefighters. We had a children's show for veterans of World War II and other wars.

When the weather is good we make trips to the beach, to the parks, to the Botanical Garden; in general, wherever the bus goes - we go, if only to avoid sitting at home feeling depressed. My club members say that their lives have changed completely. Somehow I only have women in the club, well, you know, there are clubs for gentlemen - and I have a Lady-club! But in all seriousness, the women in my club say that they ceased to feel "unnecessary", ceased to be strangers to each other and to the world. And the talents of these women amaze me! All I do is help them discover themselves and to reveal the talents they did not even know they had. We even had a Fashion Show where we made spectacular ladies' outfits, true fashion masterpieces which they then modeled themselves. Mrs. Universe and Beauty Queen pale in comparison with my ladies!

Any new plans for the club "A-Elita"?

New plans? To give my ladies new youth, new health, to turn back time - that's the plan! All jokes aside, I learned that retirement age is very bad for women, especially if they don't work and don’t have a family. As the body grows old, the energy slips away like sand in an hourglass. I learned from my own experience that the only way to slow down disease is by going to the pool. Water is life and an infinite source of youth and health. One of the goals for my club is to make sure we get access to a pool for exercise two to three times a week.


Another project that I think is necessary to implement: free shuttle buses from our homes to the supermarket "Stop and Shop". Public buses do not go there, older people do not usually drive cars, they cannot walk there on foot and there are simply no other grocery stores in the area. And so the only "healthy” option available to the seniors is canned food. Together with Assemblyman William Colton I am trying to organize specialized shuttle buses so that my neighbors can have access to healthy food.


I'm also trying to implement a project at the club that would strengthen family ties between generations. In the families of immigrants from Eastern Europe, grandchildren often do not speak the language of their grandparents, and grandparents do not speak English. At the very least I want to try and organize bus tours called "Grand-trips", which are joint tours for grandparents and their grandchildren to visit America’s historical places. After all, people of all ages are fond of traveling, both young and old. I also hope my infinitely talented and also infinitely busy daughter-architect and my 3 super-grandchildren (Aidan, 13 years old, and twins Annie and Ellie, 12 years old) will occasionally get to travel together with me – after all, this is what all grandmothers dream about. I want to everyone in my club to say "Dreams do come true".


Also in the plans of the club are summer programs for children from large families, where parents do not have enough money to send their children to summer camps. I'm trying to find volunteering opportunities for teenagers where children could be active in the summer while benefitting from being outdoors and acquiring work skills. There are many interesting projects that are being gradually implemented. My club is still unique. Community rooms exist in many apartment buildings but in most cases management uses this space for commercial purposes, like renting to kindergarten groups, as office space, or renting it out for celebrations. In our building, meetings and classes for club "A-Elita" are available and open to all!

I believe in great success of club "A-Elita" and I will support it to be best of my ability.