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Save the Hunt Family Home: My Journey

It has been an interesting journey over the last few months. Sometimes I feel as if I am literally racing in my house, kissing my husband swiftly and right back out again. I'm positive I've met myself coming and going. But one thing that has occupied my mind as of late is my sister and her family. They received a notice of default on their home. This is a common story across America, but what has been uncommon is the reaction of the this sweet family.

Aaron, my brother-in-law, a licensed pool contractor and one of the best in the state of Utah, lost his job with the economic downturn. Not surprising since pools are a luxury and luxuries went the way of the U.S. Constitution. He has been applying for job after job over the last year-and-a-half and had no luck. He's over-qualified. He's not qualified enough. He was paid too much. He was self-employed. The litany of excuses bordered on the ridiculous. Especially since a phenomenally talented man stood before each of them seeking employment. There is no one I know with a harder work ethic, skills beyond measure and ability to examine a problem and find THE solution. And yet, he couldn't find work. So he started making pies. 

Aaron is a piemaker extraordinairre! Truly his pies are a little bit heaven to your tastebuds. Strawberry, cherry, apple, almond joy (oh yeah), banana cream, coconut cream, lemon ... sheesh, I'm getting hungry just thinking about it! This is how they paid bills as they came due. Aaron would announce he was making pies and neighbors would come and snatch them up as soon as he sent out the word.

His sweet wife, Heather, is a phenomenal musician and has the ability to look at life in such a way that it is almost always filled with joy. Yes, she is stressed. Yes, she has been ill. But she keeps working hard. She owns Twist & Shout Performance Group which was doing very well and able to keep help meet the bills. But with the downturn in the economy, yet another luxury was stripped away: Voice/Dance/Piano lessons, which Heather taught, dropped enrollment.

Heather applied for and was offered, and accepted, a job at Wal-Mart, graveyard shift. 

Aaron applied with three temp agencies and finally struck gold with the third. He was back at work within the week. One week into this temporary employment, his employers realized what I already knew: Aaron is a gem. They wanted to hire him and told him so. That afternoon at work, Aaron was injured when lifting something extremely heavy. His bicep became detached from the bone and he was out of work again. They wouldn't hold the job. Workers Compensation paid the medical costs but refused to pay lost wages. Aaron was back at square one. A week-and-a-half ago, Aaron underwent surgery to reattach the bicep and is now out of work for 3 to 6 months. He can't even make pies.

Aaron and Heather have five beautiful children: 13, 11, 10, 6 and 3. Defeat is not something thet accept willingly and so the family brainstormed, talked to friends and came up with a plan: bake sales, luaus, fundraisers, etc. Which brings me to my point:

They began what Brian Mullahy of KUTV Channel 2 News called the "Cash for Trash" fundraiser, which we are in the middle of right now. A friend of Heather's, Shelby, told of her of this great idea for raising money. Friends and neighbors, even strangers, pledged $1 to $5 per trashbag filled with garbage from the streets and roads of the Hunt's hometown. So we created a cause (Save the Hunt Family Home) on Facebook. Sent the word out via email lists. Made phone calls. Walked the streets getting pledges and then began the actual "picking up trash" portion of the program.

At the beginning...
Hard at work. Aaron held the "tin can" bag with his bum arm until it became
too heavy. He worked hard that day, despite the pain he was in.

We couldn't believe what found!

There was so much trash on this single road, we couldn't believe it.
And then we found ...
A freakin' QUEEN-SIZED MATTRESS! It took both Heather and me to
drag it up to the road so we could throw it in the back of the truck! Sheesh!
And yeah, that's me. Heather's taking the picture. 
We found a tire too! And 26 bags of trash! Alvin was driving the truck,
throwing the bags in the back, etc. (He has to stay out of the sun because
of his health issues.)
I now know what the people (the litterers) who travel that road eat, drink, chew and smoke. Wendy's, McDonalds and Subway are their fast food restaurants of choice. They drink Corona beer, chew Skoal and smoke Camels. Yes, the 6-year-old was particularly disgusted by the last two. She became the cigarette-nazi and gathered every cigarette butt she could find. It was disgusting how much she found. 1/4 of a 30 gal. trashbag was nothing but cigarette butts.

And the 10-year-old was particularly excited about the
26 bags of trash we gathered that day.. We took them from the back
of our truck and put them in the Hunt's trailer to be taken to
the dump.
KUTV Channel 2's Brian Mullahy came down and shot a story about this. He has aired it multiple times and checks back, almost daily, with Aaron and Heather to see how it is going. KBYU's Brittany Glas is in the process of doing the same and it will air tomorrow (Wednesday, September 15th) at noon. 

We continue to accept pledges and I have been in awe of the sense of community. It has been an amazing adventure, albeit, a stressful one for the Hunts. People can make a pledge right here on this blog (i.e., I'll pledge $1 for every trashbag filled up to 35 bags, or 20 bags, or every bag you gather.) Or they can simply Paypal a donation right to the Hunt's through Heather's Twist & Shout Performance Group Paypal account (ahhunt5@msn.com.) Many people have preferred to do that.

Heather and Aaron were able to make a single house payment yesterday, bringing their house out of the danger zone. At least for a few days. They will continue to collect garbage until they have brought their mortgage completely current. The community effort has truly has been amazing.

Sheryl, a friend of Heather's from South Jordan, collected hundreds of dollars for the Hunts and will be delivering the money to them today.

Children from the Hunts neighborhood saw the Brian's story on Channel 2 and went around the neighborhood collecting money, selling candy, etc. Those sweet angel children delivered $76 to Heather and Aaron yesterday. Yes, tears were shed. Even children who have been bullies in the past, jumped into the effort and raised money. It truly has been amazing.

The Hunts, their family and friends are up to 45 garbage bags filled so far. It's been an amazing thing to watch. Someone suggested their hometown should pay them for all the cleaning up their doing. That's not such a bad idea, but certain to not happen.

All in all, it has been so inspiring to watch and participate in the effort. What an amazing sense of community and triumph of the human spirit. Please continue to spread the word as a huge difference is being made. May God bless you and may the windows of heaven be opened and blessings beyond measure poured out upon each and every one of you.


Copyright 2010. All rights reserved by Candace E. Salima.
Save the Hunt Family Home: My Journey Save the Hunt Family Home: My Journey Reviewed by Candace Salima on Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Rating: 5