$22K to save 106-year-old woman’s house — Where money is going
CRANFORD — Last month, New Jersey 101.5 broke the story about a 106-year-old Cranford woman with dementia and heart problems facing eventual eviction from her longtime home because she could not afford to pay her mounting property taxes.
Within hours, enough donations from readers had been submitted to a GoFundMe account to cover all the back taxes that Rose Estwanick and her caretaker daughter Rosanne needed to save their house.
On Tuesday, a smiling Rosanne Estwanick presented the Cranford tax collector's office with a certified check from the GoFundMe account for $22,001.38, which covers the taxes and interest her mother owed for last year, this year, and the taxes for first half of 2020.
Estwanick's home is assessed at $9,725 a year, less than the township average of $11,375. She owed $8,400 in taxes, which the municipality was seeking to recover through an autumn tax sale that would have put a lien on the two-story, single-family home. The lien eventually could have resulted in her losing the home that she and her late husband had owned since 1943.
“I just cannot express in enough words how much I appreciate the donors that came forward to do something positive," the younger Estwanick said. “In a world that projects such negativity, it’s wrong because there’s a lot of good people out there and they do help you. I can’t thank them enough.”
A total of 609 donors gave money to the GoFundMe, and two people sent Estwanick checks to help cover what was owed.
She said going through this situation, where the home her mother has lived in since the 1940s was almost lost, has changed her life.
“I can only tell you that one day, if I’m ever in a position, that I will give back. I will give back. I just don’t know what to say.”
She added that getting the help that poured in was a life-changing experience.
Estwanick said she plans to speak out on behalf of all older people.
“For people that are 100 years old, they should be getting more relief than what they’re getting now. At a certain point enough is enough.”
Her message to all of the donors who helped is simple.
Assemblyman Jon Bramnick, R-Union, who initially became aware of the plight of Estwanick and her mother and alerted New Jersey 101.5, said he’s happy to be part of a story that actually has a happy ending.
“Once in a while, something really good happens and you see the hearts of the people in New Jersey," the Republican minority leader said.
“I think most New Jerseyans want to help their neighbor. They may disagree on certain issues, but most want to help their neighbor, and we need more of that spirit both in Trenton and in Washington.”
You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com