In January, the DeCesare family found itself on the edge: Scott DeCesare had lost his wife to an unexpected illness and the New Jersey home that had been in his family for three generations was facing pending foreclosure.
“We were married 24 years before she passed,” DeCesare told Yahoo News. “And it would have been 26 years this year. We would have been together for the rest of our lives.”
But just a few days later, the family experienced a dramatic turnaround that has changed their lives. An unexpected and dramatic outpouring of financial support from Yahoo News readers literally saved the DeCesare family home .
“That was on the evening of the 28th of January, which happened to be through some work of fate, my mother’s birthday,” Scott’s son Charles told Yahoo News.
I had stumbled across a GoFundMe crowd funding campaign for the DeCesare family home started by Scott’s son Charles. In addition to the huge medical costs associated with his late wife’s illness, Scott himself had suffered a serious physical injury that had put his 30+ years career in the construction field on hold. The combined financial burden had put their home in jeopardy and with all other options exhausted, Charles did what so many people of his generation do: Turn to the Internet for help.
“One day I was sitting at the desk and Charles came down and asked me, ‘Dad, what’s the matter?’ I was upset and I said, ‘ We just lost your mother and now I’m afraid we’re going to lose the house,’ because the bank was threatening foreclosure,” DeCesare said.“ And he said, ‘Well, maybe I can do something.’”
Charles set a financial goal of $40,000 – enough to take the home out of foreclosure. Both he and Scott hold down steady jobs and said they could make the regular house payments to ensure the property’s financial stability once the home was no longer in foreclosure.
But when I first came across that GoFundMe page, donations had stalled at around $2,000. The donations that had come in were significant, but far from enough to save the home.
I thought it would be a good case study for Yahoo News readers. Over the past few years, I have written a number of stories about crowd funding situations and the reaction from Yahoo readers has always been strong, with generous readers independently deciding to donate their own funds to causes profiled.
Could Yahoo readers not only help the DeCesare family but also maybe even save their home?
It seemed like a long shot but less than 24 hours later, that’s exactly what happened. A dramatic surge of interest followed the story almost immediately after it was first published. Sure, there were some negative comments from readers who criticized the family for publicly asking strangers for money. But the bottom line: Thousands of Yahoo readers decided to speak not with anonymous comments but with their own hard earned dollars, donating more than $40,000 and saving the DeCesare family home.
And in some ways, they’ve saved the DeCesare family itself.
“He called me up and told me how well it had done. He told me to find my dad, go downstairs and show him the site,” Charles said in a follow-up video produced by Yahoo News.
“And to think that these are all strangers. I couldn’t tell you the joy and enthusiasm that was going through me at the time,” Charles said. “The last time I saw him cry it was out of the stress of owning a home and the bank trying to take it away. And this time I saw tears of joy.”
Moving forward, the funding page is still live. Charles says it wouldn’t be right to move the goal posts on their already successful funding effort but he is encouraging people who still want to donate, saying the funds would be used toward a Cinderella goal of paying off the house completely.
“If my mother was around to see all this transpire, see the wonderful joy it has brought to our family and so many strangers I think she would just give me a big hug,” he said.
Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)