Patrick Russo, who can frequently be seen in a yellow vest on CERT patrol as well as performing a myriad of other charitable works in Wilton, has been named the recipient of this year’s Distinguished Citizen Award. The announcement was made May 24 by the Riverbrook Regional YMCA.
The award will be presented at the YMCA Community Celebration, being held at Shore & Country Club in Norwalk. Sponsored by Fairfield County Bank, this year’s celebration is a sea to table event on Sunday, June 2.
The Distinguished Citizen Award has been given to more than 85 individuals, businesses and organizations since the Community Celebration began in 1986. It honors outstanding volunteers who have served their community through volunteerism on a long-term basis and made a positive difference that benefits Wilton, Norwalk and Redding and their residents.
“We had several nominations for the Distinguished Citizen Awards this year, and it was a difficult choice for the committee to select the winner,” Robert McDowell, CEO of the YMCA, said in a press release. “Pat Russo has made significant contributions to improving the quality of life in Wilton and is eminently deserving of this honor.”
A native of Garden City, N.Y., Russo moved to Fairfield County in 1970 while attending Fairfield University. He and his wife Mary moved to Old Highway in Wilton in 1996 and has been involved in numerous volunteer activities since.
For the past 15 years he has served as a volunteer driver for Our Lady of Fatima Food Kitchen, bringing food from Village Market twice a month to the Manna House of Hospitality soup kitchen at Open Doors and the Person-to-Person food pantry. He has also been a Home Front volunteer through Our Lady of Fatima and the Rotary Club of Wilton, which provides free repairs to low-income homeowners, thus enabling them to remain in their homes with an improved quality of life.
Russo has been an active member of the Rotary Club of Wilton since 2004 and as a member of the board of directors he has led the carnival committee since 2012, spearheading the club’s major fundraising event. He was instrumental in expanding the Rotary Senior Fire Protection program, which has installed more than 500 smoke detectors in the homes of senior citizens. Russo has also received multiple Rotary awards for his “service above self” — the Paul Harris Fellow, Rotarian of the Year 2010-11, District Governor Citation for Service in 2014, and the Norman King Parsells Memorial Award for Service in 2015.
As a Wilton Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member since 2005, Russo has completed hundreds of emergency and planned deployments to assist the Wilton police and fire departments and provide mutual aid to other communities. CERT has trained more than 300 Wilton citizens in emergency preparation skills and is recognized by the state Department of Emergency Management Services as a model organization for other teams.
As a member of the team’s board of directors, he successfully led public/private fundraising campaigns to purchase two emergency vehicles and mobile command trailer for CERT and Wilton Emergency Services. He, as well as Wilton CERT, was awarded the Public Safety Award by AAA of CT in 2018.
An agent at Realty Seven, Russo is a past president of the Wilton Chamber of Commerce and currently he sits on that organization’s board of directors.
“Pat has spent his time in Wilton giving back to others and has made a significant difference in the Wilton community. It’s people like Pat whose dedication and commitment to volunteerism has made Wilton a better place for all,” the YMCA said.
For tickets to the community celebration, visit seatotable.givesmart.com or call the YMCA’s development office at 203-762-8384, ext. 273.