A small two-bedroom house on Long Island, New York is transformed into a magnificent 2400-square-foot home for a young widower with three toddler sons. The return of this father and his children to the house fulfils the dying wish of a wife and mother who said that she wanted her husband and boys to come back to their house so she would “always know where to find them.”
John and Anne-Marie Vitale of St. James, New York were a young, happily married couple with three beautiful boys. Their family was growing quickly, so they decided to move out of their small, two-bedroom home and into Anne-Marie’s parents’ house while they added on to their tiny abode.
But soon after they moved out, tragedy moved in. Anne-Marie, at only 28 years of age, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia and died in August 2004. She was buried on what would have been her 29th birthday.
Grief stricken, John, 32, who works as a policeman with the Suffolk County Police Department, continued to bring up their boys—Jack, 4, Adrian, 2-1/2 and 18-month-old Luke—at his in-laws’ house. John has never been able to renovate, as the Vitales’ savings were drained after paying hospital bills and for Anne-Marie’s burial. But John and the boys do need their house back—for the family’s sake—so the boys can live out a childhood that their young mother wasn’t able to share in her own short life.
While the EM:HE design team, a construction crew of over 400 workers and homebuilder Alure Homes build a place that the Vitales will enjoy for years to come, the family will go on vacation to the West Gate Park City Resort & Spa in Park City, Utah.
The close-knit St. James community has been an outstanding source of support for John and his kids since Anne-Marie passed away. One example of their generosity was a performance at a packed fundraiser at the St. James fire station by former New York Police Officer Daniel Rodriguez, who is now a professional singer. While Daniel sang a stirring rendition of “Ave Maria,” the designers passed around firemen’s helmets which neighbors and community businesses filled with more than $125,000 for John and his boys.
In addition to the 3000-plus neighbors and friends who welcome the Vitales home, bagpipers and drummers from the Suffolk County Police Officers’ Emerald Society Pipe Band also perform for the massive crowd.