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A new start for a house with so much hope

By Erin O'Connor

Staff Writer

WESTFIELD On Sept. 18 when Lauri Scottsmith, a volunteer for the Westfield Cancer House of Hope, entered the House shortly after 8 a.m. she did not see the usual environment she was accustomed to.

"It's just kind of odd," Scottsmith said to Reminder Publications.

What happened?

"I came in and saw trash on the floor and at first thought that an animal had gotten in," Scottsmith said. When she saw dented cans she said she fled from the House and proceeded to call 9-1-1.

"If you look at it you have to steer towards juvenile delinquents. There is no rhyme or reason for what was being done there," Detective Kevin Swords, of the Westfield Police Department, said.

Swords said that this was not a typical breaking and entering in which intruders are just through offices and through drawers. Here there were broken light bulbs and food strewn about.

"Kids break into storage, fields and concession stands but destruction to this magnitude you do not see that often. If this was a disguise of a B & E then it was an overkill," Swords said. "I can't eliminate the thought of one person but I don't see one person doing this, usually it is two or three," he said.

Many rooms in the House were targeted by the vandal(s). Some rooms in the House had little to no damage done including a living room.

As far as who committed the crime Swords said, "I can't say definitely. Nothing about this is common." Swords has not eliminated the possibility of this being an inside job.

The only known items that were stolen from the House include a power point projector and a laptop computer. Numerous other computers and laptops were left in place at the House.

The Detective Bureau is in the process of dusting finger prints of off soda cans to decipher the prints that are the boldest and most prominent.

No where to go but up

"Equity is always replaceable, we are thankful that the damage wasn't as extensive as it could have been. It could have been much more," Cheryl Gorski, the new executive director for the House, said.

"It will be a while to get us back there but we'll do it," Scottsmith said.

"Volunteers run these houses and they do whatever is asked of them, I've been impressed," Gorski said. "I really hope that this will get us out to the media and let people know the House exists."

Gorski said that the House offers support groups, yoga, and various services that the public can take advantage of and they are always in need of financial support. To get in contact with the House call 562-0110.

Gorski called in a cleaning crew last week to return things to order and some of their expenses would be covered by insurance.

"You can't let them win," Gorski said. "I am really hoping that it would build more awareness that we're here. It is unfortunate to say under these circumstances but it brings attention to the House."

please see HOPE page 11