To the editor:
I could not be prouder of Gloucester. This certainly was one of our finest hours. I would like to share with all of you the events that transpired from the perspective of the organizer of the fundraiser for the Curcuru family (“Hurtful letter spurs community to help couple,” Aug. 14).
I was by no measure the first person involved. I had been watching from afar as a group of about 20 were discussing how to best react to the letter. The group had hit a bit of a hurdle, so I offered just a small semblance of guidance. I had some very basic knowledge of what was the natural next step. I was pulled into the chat and by the nature of my involvement began to take ownership of the effort. There really was no delineating point. It just happened. We then moved quickly from idea to action.
We created the GoFundMe. We wrote the story as concisely as we could and such that it was an accurate reflection of what was an emotionally charged campaign. It was posted to Facebook on Aug. 6. The following day I reached out to all the local media outlets with the story. A week or so later Boston 25 News as well as the Gloucester Daily Times ran the story. Within a little over a week and a half, we had raised $25,000 through more than 270 donations. A milestone. I was not surprised.
The story began to spread to other media outlets and then nationally with the Washington Post. We had raised $50,000 through 655 donations. We were just shy of three weeks into the fundraising.
Another day had passed and then it was posted globally. I saw donations coming in within seconds of one another. I searched Google News for “The Curcuru House” and there it was on Yahoo! Australia and CNN. It had gone global. It had gone viral.
Within a few days the other local media outlets ran the story, including the Boston Globe and People Magazine. A day or two later it was posted on Fox News. Within less than five weeks we had raised almost $90,000.
In early September the necessary permits were issued, and the work was under way. By the end of day, the Curcuru family had their new roof. The reaction through out Facebook was that of joy, love and achievement. A sentiment of love conquering all.
We are in a bit of a holding pattern as we await the scheduling of the remaining work. The siding, the windows and the stairs are soon to be replaced. While this would not be considered a particularly large construction project it is, like any other, subject to the availability of subcontractors. All contractors schedule themselves out at least a month if not a month and a half. This is the nature of their work and how they keep themselves on pace to have work with some level of regularity.
We were contacted by some contractors outside of the city. Early on I had made the business decision to not accept free work. I wanted a legitimate business transaction to take place so we could hold any contractor who performed sub-par work accountable. What a disaster this would be if the Curcurus received a new roof that was no better than the one they had. How would we seek reparations if the contractor received no pay? How would we seek reparations if the contractor had done it at cost? The family agreed with the decision. They were on board. All funding would be public.
The people of this community reacted and without any real provocation. They just did what they do and provided support. Gloucester is responsible for nearly 50% of donations. Again, I am not surprised. I had discussed with a family friend an event that I had witnessed that told me of what was to come of the Curcuru fundraiser. When the city lost one of its beloved heroes, firefighter Mike Smith, the outpouring of support was nothing short of amazing. St. Ann’s church was filled to its maximum capacity, forcing parishioners to fill the steps outside the church. People were in the street because there was no other place to stand. It was this event that had me knowing what Gloucester would do to help the Curcuru family. The story had touched the hearts of so many around the world. People could identify with the hardships that the Curcuru family had endured. Canada, Australia, Arizona, California, Tennessee, Colorado, I could go on. For the people of Gloucester, I believe it merely was a situation where one of their own was subjected to the receipt of an inconsiderate letter with what would otherwise be disheartening words.
We all quickly forgot about the letter once the fundraising was under way. I spoke to Jimmy Curcuru Sr. nearly every day. It was rarely brought up. Our discussions included talk of our families, the neighborhood, our city, our faith, and the peaceful loving things that people often talk about around here. These truly are people that are the shining light of Gloucester. I was in the right place. I was doing the right thing. I was doing it for the right people.
There was much work that came with all of this. The family had to endure being in the public eye and the repetition of interviews by the media. I commend them for their durability, their toughness, and their ability to rise to the occasion and play what was the most important role.
Much like Jimmy Jr.’s beautiful, inspiring, and loving words, I can say to those who wrote the letter that we love you, we forgive you, and when the time calls that you need the support of your city, Gloucester, we will be there for you too.
You can view our current progress with the Curcuru House and all of our future projects. Follow our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/restorationgloucester
To view the fundraiser page visit http://www.restorationgloucester.com