Michelle & Jay's Home Recovery

We have been away from our home working on a book project and returned this week to discover that our tenants for the past year and a half had severely damaged the inside. Although they had good references, jobs, and appeared perfectly normal, the level of destruction they did to our family home was shocking. We expected to come back to some cleaning and perhaps painting, but the house was so unbelievably filthy and has such extensive damage it is uninhabitable - strewn with garbage, wooden floors completely destroyed, dog feces and urine stains everywhere, broken toilets, walls and every surface filthy, huge holes their dogs dug in the yard, stairs and furniture chewed and broken, holes dug into the floor near the back door, soapstone counter and sink chipped, leaking water in the basement, bottles of alcohol everywhere, suffocatingly horrible smells. They also stole about $8000 worth of our furniture and electronics. It is hard to imagine a human could live in these conditions and we can only assume that there were some serious alcohol, drug, and mental health issues going on. This has been a heartbreaking loss for us.

Over the last 16 years we have loved and cared for this home, which is a historic landmark and was a beautiful part of our community. We restored much of it with our own hands. We put large amounts of our time, financial resources, labor, and love into making it a family home where we raised our 3 children, dogs, cats, chickens, vegetable and flower gardens. It was built in the early 1800’s and has held the lives of so many other families like ours - some of whom have even come back to visit the house and reminisce about their childhoods spent fishing in the brook, sharing meals, and celebrating holidays in its beautiful old rooms. We feel so sad and angry that the people we trusted to stay here had not an ounce of respect and caused so much harm to a home that has been so important for us, to all the families before us, as well as being a historic part of our community for over 150 years.

The difficult part of our story is that not only were we completely shocked to find our home in this sad and deplorable state, but we are also totally unprepared financially to do all that will be necessary to bring it back to health so it can be lived in and enjoyed once again. We’ve begun getting estimates to properly clean it out, dump garbage and destroyed furniture, re-paint the inside, refinish all the wood floors, repair carpentry damage, replace bathroom fixtures, repair and re-seed the back yard. We know that clean up alone will be a minimum of $3000 and repairing the old hemlock floors in the vicinity of $8-$10,000.

We want to get started as soon as possible but do not have the resources to cover so much damage. The good news is that we are certain that it can be restored to the beautiful home it once was, as there is luckily no major structural damage. We are asking for help to offset some of the costs so that we can move on from this sad chapter and get started bringing our home back to the life it is meant to have. A home with this wonderful long history and (underneath the filth, scrapes, and bruises) one that is so strong and solid deserves to be cared for, preserved, and lived in for many more years to come. With your help we will make this happen.



A few before images. Can't wait to make our house a home again...


  • Patterson Schackne  
    • $50 
    • 30 mos
  • Douglas Hoffman 
    • $180 
    • 30 mos
  • Julie & Andrew Burden 
    • $200 
    • 30 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 30 mos
  • Adrianna Cahill 
    • $100 
    • 30 mos
See all

Fundraising team (2)

Michelle Distel Cavallaro 
Raised $425 from 6 donations
Sunderland, VT
Jay Cavallaro 
Team member
Raised $580 from 5 donations
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