|By Katelyn Gendron|
Reminder Assistant Editor
AGAWAM Scott and Melanie Hauser of 1075 Main St. were forced to accept the cruel reality that they could not afford a Christmas for their three children last month. Like many families tangled up in this nation's housing crisis, the Hausers were facing foreclosure Dec. 18.
While this family will likely still lose their home on the auction date set for Jan. 18, the Hausers had a Christmas in 2007 they will remember all their lives. Organizations and members of the Agawam and surrounding communities came together to provide food, clothing and toys for the entire family.
Scott said they received 10 hams, two turkeys, 50 pounds of onions and potatoes, all the fixings for Christmas dinner, two boxes of toys, winter clothing and assorted gift cards.
"It's very humbling to me to accept any kind of help. I was balling my eyes out," Scott said. He added that they stocked their two refrigerators with all the food they could at their Westfield apartment the family was forced to move in with Melanie's cousin in Westfield when their electricity was shut off last month. Scott explained that all of the remaining food, including all the onions, which Melanie is allergic to, were separated into care packages and given to acquaintances in need.
Scott said many of the toys were trucks and motorcycles for his younger sons, who are under the age of six. He recalled his youngest son having fallen asleep from exhaustion from playing with all of his new toys. Scott said when he went to take a picture of him he realized he couldn't because his sons had scrounged up every battery they could to operate to toys, including the ones in his camera.
He said he has been overwhelmed by the support from the community and is extremely grateful for their generosity. "I want my family to be very well taken care of and I'm doing the best I can," Scott said.
He is currently working well over 40 hours per week at Malkoon Motors in Feeding Hills to try and keep up with the bills. An illness called a ketone blockage has prevented Melanie from working but given the circumstances she has put her health aside to actively seek employment.
Due to a refinance to an adjustable rate mortgage the Hausers have been unable to keep up with the increased mortgage payments.
Diane Stallone, collection manager at STCU Credit Union, said the only option to save the house now would be for a family member to bid on the property on auction day. Upon hearing about the Hausers, Stallone and others at STCU Credit Union in Springfield and Westfield established an account in Scott's name to aid him with his legal fees. She has also provided Scott with financial counseling in an effort to try and save their home.
"I put myself in [their] shoes. If my house was going on the auction block I would hope that people would extend an alms to help me," Stallone said. "This is the best Christmas present I could give to anyone by donating my time and helping him."
Dina Peters, teller supervisor at STCU Credit Union in Westfield, and a personal friend of Scott's, said, "I knew that he was having a hard time but Scott is a very proud person. He would give the shirt off his back before he would ask for anything."
Peters explained that Scott's commitment to his family and strong work ethic have been paramount examples of the strength of his character. "He'd work seven days, 24 hours a day to make ends meet. It's not for lack of trying," she said.
Luz Rodriguez, caseworker at the Salvation Army in Westfield, said an inquiry from an employee at the credit union is what prompted them to help the Hausers. She explained that they were adopted by another local family and given toys and a Christmas dinner with all the trimmings.
"They were very humble and grateful," Rodriguez said of the Hausers. "Some people come in and expect us to help but they were grateful."