The reason for the festivities at Mallozzi's Club House in the Western Turnpike Golf Course on Friday, April 25, was somber, but the mood was jovial. Children wearing shorts and summer dresses chased one another. Firefighters wearing neon yellow T-shirts dished out ziti with meatballs and a side order of wisecracks.
Car upon car drove up to participate in the benefit dinner to help raise money for the Kosier family, whose house in Duanseburg burned down Feb. 13.
Stephanie Kosier, a physics teacher and her husband, David, a math teacher at Guilderland High School, have a 3-year-old daughter, Mattingly, and a baby girl, Alexa, who was born after the fire.
The fire ignited from ashes that fell down from their chimney. It was 8:15 a.m. on an icy, frigid day. The Kosiers were home because the school declared a snow day due to the ice.
I was about to do laundry, and I could smell the fire, but I didn't think my house was on fire. That's not the first thing you think of, you know, said Stephanie Kosier. "I thought something was too close to the furnace, or something. You know how that happens sometimes?"
She said she finally understood what was happening when she saw her neighbor knocking frantically at their door.
"My husband asked me what I wanted to save," she said. "I told him the pictures."
She said they were able to save 90 percent of their photographs, their dog and the clothes on their backs. Their cat and Mattingly's goldfish died.
Hearing about the Kosier's situation, 17-year-old Frank Zabinski, a student in Mrs. Kosier's physics class, was determined to help.
"I just felt really bad for her," Zabinski said.
He had only known Mrs. Kosier for a few weeks because she had been away on maternity leave, but he said he felt obligated to help. "I just felt terrible because she just had a baby, and she's a really nice teacher," he said.