Have you ever driven a particular route each day, sometimes more than once, with one place always catching your eye?
Such is the case with me, along Altamont Avenue, to and from work, to the store and to friends’. One house always caught my eye. All the homes around it were being torn down and crews were building new ones in their place. Not this house though. It looked old, falling apart and just not worth saving. It was right smack in the middle of newness. I always wondered when someone would take charge and do something about it. Was it abandoned? Shouldn’t the city take care of it? Who and where were the owners?
Well lo and behold … someone finally did. They call themselves Signature Homes. No, this is not a shameless plug for them. I drove by one day and noticed workers, trucks and ladders. Slowly but surely the house became like new. I went on the website of Signature Homes, to see who saw the beauty in this house and wanted to save it. Signature Homes has made it their office and the place has once again come to life. How wonderful for the house and surrounding area. Renewal and restoration is what the business is all about.
I’ve always been an advocate of any kind of renewal. How wonderful to see something that was considered beyond saving, returned to “life.” It has happened on Hamburg Street in Rotterdam as well, with the old Grand Union building. I say, leave the trees and nature alone for a bit longer and make an old place new again.
When I was approached to write something for this publication, I had no idea where to start. What a wonderful opportunity. I love to write, but usually not for anyone but myself. Maybe a bio? Just to introduce myself.
What I have written about the house renewal, is so similar to what I would have written about myself that I couldn’t pass it by. You see, I am an alcoholic in recovery. Most people only saw someone overcome by addiction, falling apart, dirty and empty inside, ready to give up. But someone else saw something different and decided to help.
I had a good life, until my addiction took control of it. Spiritually, morally and of course, financially bankrupt, I wished only for an end. I saw the judgment and pity in others eyes when people looked at me. I knew they must be thinking, “what a waste.” My hidden belief that I didn’t matter, was (I thought) being confirmed. But someone saw something.
I had a firm foundation behind that addiction. All I needed was someone to notice and take the chance to build on it. And that happened. Slowly but surely, I have returned to life, so to speak. Without that firm foundation and some wonderful “construction workers,” I just may have succeeded in being torn down and forgotten. I don’t walk this path alone. I don’t share that analogy lightly. But it created a passion in me – my desire to help others know their worth.
I was born and raised in Jersey City. At age 14, when my mom passed away, I was sent to upstate New York and finished high school. After graduation, I joined the U.S. Navy and was sent to San Diego to serve. I lived on the West Coast for several years and after wandering a bit, returned to New York. I now live and work as a bookkeeper in the Rotterdam area. I am a wife, a mom of three with a bonus son from my husband’s previous marriage. I have five grandchildren and two bonus grandchildren. My grandson Eric has Autism. Another cause I am passionate about.
So, what’s this all about, you ask? For me it’s about restoration and renewal. Of buildings and people. Hard times and good times. And whatever else comes to mind. Let’s see where it takes us.
Debbie Potocki Provost can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org