By Isabel Marcheselli
WESTFIELD – When Melanie McNamara, an attorney, heard about the plight of the Masso Family, whose house on Orange Street burned down on Feb. 4, she sprung into action and started a GoFundMe fundraiser to get the family of 11 what they needed.
The day of the fire, Miriam Masso, along with her husband, David Gonzalez, sister, Melissa Masso, parents Jose and Ketty Masso and children Mariela, 13, David, 11, Gabriella, 10, Victoria, 9, Noel, 7, and Nickolai, 6, and their pets all safely made it out of the house but found themselves homeless and destitute.
The Masso’s situation came to McNamara’s attention through the fact that she and Miriam Masso are friends and sports moms. Their children participate in the Westfield Youth Football League. “We sit on the sidelines five days a week. Everybody knows everybody,” said McNamara.
As vice president of the Westfield Youth Football Board, McNamara said that she had had prior experience collaborating with other football youth league families to successfully raise up to $40,000 to send the Westfield Youth Football League to nationals. Currently, the GoFund Me page that she has created for the Masso family has raised $17,560, though much more is needed for anticipated expenses up ahead.
McNamara explained that she has had to collaborate with other football league families to get this far with donation.: “It was a pretty coordinated effort with a lot of the families involved,” she said.
Every night, McNamara visits the Masso family to make sure that the family has what they need to make it through their days.
“I go there every night after work usually for an hour or so and hang out,” she said.
Though McNamara also organized a meal train for the Masso family, she said that this food project has closed down for now because the family has moved into a temporary home for three months. As a result, they can now cook at home.
One of the biggest challenges met, thus far, in the fundraising effort, McNamara said, has been managing all of the physical goods that have been donated to the family and that have required storage. The substantial number of items, including clothes and furniture, has needed a lot of organizing.
“We sorted and made sure that everything was clean and decent,” said McNamara.
Since the Masso family will remain in need of donations, particularly monetary support, readers can offer their help by visiting their GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/29ryxtahuo