Modern-day knight

Photo by Samantha Moranville

We’ve all been there: you have this problem and you need help, but you don’t want to burden your friends with it. Or maybe there are some people who would listen, but they’d judge you… or maybe they’d never look at you the same way again. In this day and age, is there anybody out there willing to help without looking for something in return? No. But there is one guy here in Saugerties who takes his cues from a more civilized time, and he’s here to serve.

“People come to me, with various sorts of problems, and I do what I can to not only talk to them, and console them where I can, but also—if possible—get them more information regarding solutions to the obstacles they’re facing,” said Joseph Bozlinski, who recently returned to his hometown of Saugerties after a few years in Kingston.

Since he was last here, he’s found his calling as a professional do-gooder. He’s even got a company: Valiant Solutions. So far, the response in town has been overwhelmingly positive.

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Bozlinski continued: “I get in touch with other people I know, getting feedback and advice. I get phone numbers. I get spare goods, cash, on occasion, expertise… essentially, every person has their own ‘circle of friends.’ What I do is tap into my circle of friends, as well as my own personal resources, to help people in crisis, whether those crisis happen to be big or small.”

In other words, he acts like a good friend to anyone who needs him. It’s a simple but novel concept to take these positive personal traits, which many people possess and apply to those lucky enough to know them, and go pro. Bozlinski is a true original.

 

Humble beginnings

Like many truly driven people, Bozlinski’s convictions are the result of many dark nights of the soul.

“I saw that there were people around me hurting — suffering — just like I was,” said Bozlinski. “When I really took it all in, I became filled with rage, pretty much. I couldn’t stand the thought of good, innocent people feeling hurt, helpless—hopeless. I knew what that felt like, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.”

He eventually came to the age-old, Buddhist epiphany that life is suffering, and resolved to devote his life to ameliorating it wherever possible.

“So, I started, bit by bit, earning a rep as a ‘do-gooder’, if you will. That, with time, lead to the idea of forming Valiant Solutions. I wanted to become more organized, more professional, if you will, and I figured the further I could take this mission of mine, the more good I could do.”

Bozlinski is a self-proclaimed “modern-day knight.” Having moved out of his parents’ home at an early age into an apartment alone Kingston—an unsympathetic city he found to be rife with crime, closed doors and heartache—he found an accepting community of fellow fantasy and gaming aficionados among the Order of the Roc—a group devoted to confidence and skill-building armed martial arts.

Bozlinkski credits the order for schooling him in what became his code: chivalry. “Kindness, courtesy, honor, integrity, bravery,” he explained. “[Modern-day knighthood] is about taking the chivalric ideals like honor, courage, courtesy and compassion… and choosing to commit them in today’s world.”

Bozlinski doesn’t leave the house without his cell on. Never has. “I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but a lot of folks have an easy time opening up to me,” said Bozlinkski. “I’ve had people who’ve met me, and inside of fifteen minutes, are telling my life story. More than once, someone who’s known me for less than a week, has opened up to me with personal details and then said, ‘I’ve never told anyone that before…’ I’m honored by that, and I give those people the utmost respect. I appreciate the trust they place in me. So, yeah, it’s always been like this, pretty much from my early teen-years onward.”

“Sometimes, it’s someone talking about problems they’re having at home, and they just want someone to listen,” said Bozlinski of his “listening” services. “Other times, it’s more serious — someone doesn’t feel safe walking home, so I get a call on my cell, asking if I’ll come meet them. Or, I get young mothers without computer access, asking if I can compile a list of daycares in the area. Or people struggling with addiction, who ask me about different support groups, within Ulster County and beyond. Sometimes, I’m asked to help someone with peer mediation. They’ve got a friend, roommate, girlfriend, boyfriend, they’re fighting with, and they want a neutral party to help the communication along.”

While he always makes himself available, he’s no pushover, say friends.

“Even in his own times of struggle, he’s there to listen, and do absolutely whatever he can to give people advice, resources, encouragement,” said Bozlinski’s friend and confidant, Phoebe Winchester. “Sometimes he is a little tough on some people — just the way a parent would be I guess, when telling their kid to do homework, but it’s always with a really respectful and calm manner. He just loves to push people to do better if they can, and he’ll help them do that in pretty much what seems like, any way that he can.”

Rebecca Lopez of Kingston said Bozlinski is one of the few people she can turn to when she has a problem. “Sometimes when I can’t handle things with my family, or I’m having trouble with school, or I just can’t seem to keep my head on my shoulders, he’s always available to help me through it,” said Lopez.

Ashley Megan Drewes owns Sugartown Vintage Boutique and was so impressed with Bozlinksi’s personal missive that she interviewed and profiled him on her business’ blog. “[Bozlinski] expresses a sincere concern for other human beings that at its heart is truly selfless,” she said. “In the wake of the recent violent crime spikes in mid-town Kingston, here is an individual from the city of Kingston who allots a certain amount of his time to helping people without payment or reciprocity. He’s like a unicorn. And also like a beacon of hope. He told me he felt strange and unneeded in Saugerties. I wanted to help him do what he was passionate about by letting people know he was here to help- because shouldn’t someone like Joe be encouraged? And shouldn’t such good will be highlighted and put on a public pedestal? [Bozlinski] is what our communities need more of, without a doubt. And he should have all the credit he deserves.”

So what’s next for Valiant Solutions? Bozlinski is thinking about group cleanups of neighborhoods, helping out at food pantries and shelters, youth outreach programs, promoting sports and games and whatever else comes up. “Right now, as ever, it’s just important to me to do the most good that I can, above all else… I’m not a hero. I’m just a guy with issues who wears too much black clothing and happens to have a couple of redeeming qualities.”   

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