Lifestyle & Human Interest

Widow with Two Special Needs Daughters on Verge of Losing Home, Then Teacher Steps In To Help


Paula Melo of North Reading, Massachusetts, has found herself in quite a tight spot this year. She was a hard-working single mom of two beautiful daughters, but she was about to lose her house.

An active member of the community, Melo and her daughters Sophia and Ava were well known and equally well loved. Her twin 12-year-olds, who have autism, were thriving at school and didn’t want to move.

In 2011, their father and Melo’s husband, Fernando, had been taken by cancer. It was a surprise to all of them when he was diagnosed, and in a few short weeks, he was gone.

“We had no preparation, Melo told Boston 25 News. “No life insurance. I was just left to do what I could, and it was tough. It worked for a while, and then it stopped working. What I was doing wasn’t enough.”

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“I was born and raised there, and my girls, they love it there,” Melo explained. “And they want to stay there, and they’re happy. It’s good for them. I want to do what I can to keep it.”

Now, Melo struggled to make the house payments on her own and the house was about to be taken from them — until the community stepped up.

“It’s so hard when you see people trying so hard and to see that they still aren’t quite where they should be,” Jolene Danian, the girls’ teacher, said. “With such a good family, such good girls, and such a good mom, everyone wanted to do everything we could.”

“They are just a joy to be around,” she continued “They’re fun, smart. They’re sort of like a breath of fresh air. They make coming to work a great time.”

She and some others got fundraisers going, including donations from a local restaurant and collecting funds online through a GoFundMe page.

“This campaign is for a mother who always puts others first, especially her twin daughters,” the page explains. “She does not ask for help nor does she expect it. You may have heard the proverb, ‘it takes a village’. This mother is an active member of others’ villages, yet she typically does not call on her own village in times of need.”

“This family is at risk of losing their house, adding one more huge battle to the mother’s list. We hope to raise enough money to make a large dent, if not more, in her mortgage. With the girls approaching their teen years, many difficult changes lie ahead and we hope that trying to find a new home does not become one of those changes.”

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“These two girls are smart, kind, funny, and lovable. They have learned about their town, are familiar with specific places and people, and are a part of a wonderful program in the public school. If they lose their house, all of this could change. Please donate anything you can to help this family remain in their home and for the girls to continue to succeed within their most familiar environment, their village.”

“It’s overwhelming. … What a feeling,” the grateful mother said. “You don’t realize how many people love you and care about you. And when you’re in this position, it shows. It’s humbling.”

“This community, this town, how everybody just wants to help – I hope some day I can pay it forward. I really do. And I will.”

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