Moments that have turned to memories have now been created inside of these walls, from their very first Thanksgiving that Steve was adamant on holding though he himself would not be able to partake in the spread, to their first Christmas, and ushering in a New Year. Laughter and love fills this space, a space for friends and family to commune and gather as Steve’s ability to travel is limited, his driving ability stripped by this monster of a disease and in recent weeks his mobility stunted by the war his body is fighting.
The Anoia family, now firmly rooted in their forever home, are faced with the challenges that progression of ALS, this ruthless disease, deals them daily. Steve has lost the ability to remain with his employer and Jill has taken leave to remain by his side as his strength when he is weak, his nurse when he is ill, his caregiver around the clock. Steve has not yet been approved for Medicaid and the stress of medical bills, daily living expenses, and income mount.
Let us continue to help this deserved family to endure, to weather, and to rise, by offering the aid that will allow them to focus on the things in life that truly matter, family, faith, and the daily memories still being built between those walls.
For the last six years, Jill Anoia has been a part of our real estate sales team and has touched so many with her professionalism, leadership, hard work, and service. If you know me or Matt, then there’s little doubt you haven’t heard of or have been helped by Jill. She runs the ship. She is a part of our family. Our team sold more than 200 houses last year, and she had her hand in every single transaction. She gives her all every day at work, but that’s not all. Jill, her husband Steve, and their sons, Gabe, 14, and Chase, 11, have become a part of our family and our village.
The Anoias are thoughtful, selfless, and steadfast community leaders. They have made a huge impact in the lives of so many. In 2015, Jill was searching for ways their two sons could give of their time and energy to serve others. She called shelters and many service organizations only to learn the minimum ages for volunteers were most often 14 or so. With that, she decided to figure something out on her own. That December, she had gathered about 35 kids to execute a day of R.A.C.K. (Random Acts of Christmas Kindness). They caroled, they left candy canes on car doors, the left quarters in machines at laundromats, they helped folks carry groceries and load them into cars. Anything they could think of to brighten someone’s day and spread kindness. It was wonderful, and her boys were inspired along with her. So, they just didn’t stop. Jill put her head down and got to work. By the next December, they had gathered 400 children to serve and created an entire charitable organization and movement aimed at giving children the opportunity and encouraging them to serve in their own backyards. Simply Positive Kids is now a year-round organization, and in 2017, it grew to 700 children throughout multiple school districts and two counties. Seven hundred kids blasted out into the community the first Saturday in December to spread kindness at animal shelters, nursing homes, grocery stores, hospitals … everywhere! To make an impact on not only those who run into the kindness, but the children themselves. Jill has poured thousands and thousands of hours into the founding, building, and growing of this movement. This year, she was nominated as one of Citadel FCU’s volunteers of the year and interviewed by numerous written publications and recognized by WMMR’s Preston and Steve Show. And, she’s not done yet!
Unfortunately, in February of this year, the Anoias’ world came to a screeching halt. In May of 2017, Steve was starting to have a bit of trouble with his speech. He was slurring his words a little, and it was beginning to worry them. They went from doctor to doctor with no answers, all the while Steve’s speech kept getting worse and worse. Until finally, at Temple Hospital, they found the answer no family deserves. Steve, at just 39, has ALS. There is no cure for ALS, little treatment, and many unknowns about how quickly it will progress in each individual.
In the face of all of this, Jill and Steve are blowing everyone away with their selflessness once again. Within weeks of his diagnosis, Steve had sold hundreds of #ALSsucks bracelets to benefit Hope for ALS, and next month, they have organized and are hosting a huge cornhole tournament with more than 60 teams for the same cause. Instead of sitting around wallowing in questions – like Why me? and Why our family? – they turned their attention to finding ways to ease the pain of others faced with the same prognosis. Steve is even sharing his battle to bring awareness here at ALSwillAnoia.com .
For years, while giving of their time to others, the Anoias have been quietly but steadfastly working toward their goal of owning their own home. Steve, in particular, wants to show his boys that through hard work and perseverance, homeownership is possible for their family. They have spent years paying off debts, building wonderful credit, and were working on saving for their down payment. Unfortunately, now, the reality is they aren’t sure how much longer Steve will be able to work and what care he will need in the near future. What we do know is that it’s almost the fall of 2018, and Steve has completely lost his ability to speak. And, as of last month, he can no longer eat or drink and had to be fitted with a permanent feeding tube. Steve has no choice but to communicate with his family and others through a text-to-talk app on an iPad. As a father facing his own mortality and a future without the promise of being there for his family, to help provide for and nurture his wife and sons, his biggest wish is to see them in a home that will be theirs forever.
Steve is, as anyone would describe him, a family man. He’s at every game for Gabe and performance for Chase. He is and always has been in the front row to support his two sons in whatever their heart desires. He loves his Jill and her servant heart with every nook and cranny of his. They met in college and have a story just like yours or mine – of love and life and dreams and plans. Only now, their dreams and plans have turned to unknowns and “while we still can.” What Steve wants most for his family, now bracing for so many uncertainties, is for them to have the stability of a home to call their own. He wants to know that when the day comes that he can longer work or this horrible disease robs him from his family, they will have a HOME. That the boys will have roots under their feet and a room that is theirs, no matter what. That they will remain in the same schools and be surrounded by those who love them most. Where they can leave their smelly shoes at the door and empty the fridge with their friends. Where they’ll come back to and from college and overwhelm Jill with laundry and love. Where they’ll one day bring home their spouses and children and still feel their Dad’s love is in the walls.
Each day, Jill gives her all in service to others, but first, she loves her family and seeks out ways to make the world better for her sons. Now, it’s our turn to dig deep and help her family accomplish a long-sought-after dream. Allowing a father and husband to breathe a little easier for the life and future of his family as his own breathing becomes more labored.
Now is our chance. Our opportunity. And our obligation to help the Anoia family reach their dreams while their family is still intact. And they can still create memories by God’s grace. To give a loving husband and father and friend the peace of mind he needs for the security of his family as he fights the battle for his life. They need our help for a down payment NOW for a modest home in their school district that Steve can still live in comfortably as his health needs become greater and that Jill can afford on her own when the time comes.
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