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Kindness Comes from Community After Vandalism in Wyckoff

Eileen Avia says she is overwhelmed by the kindness and concern of Wyckoff residents who came to her aid in the week following a seemingly senseless act of hostility at her home.

A Wyckoff resident shocked by the appalling nature of vandalism against her was touched by the kindness of strangers recently.

Eileen Avia was hosting a party at her Voorhis Avenue home for campaign supporters on the night of Dec. 8 when, under the cover of night, someone vandalized her garage door and the fiber-cement siding on two sides of her home, as well as a pair of cars.

Altogether, the damages to Avia's home and the guests' cars, which were also gouged with a sharp object, are expected to cost approximately $10,000 to repair.

Several days later a widely-read story appeared on Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch and across social media, and two strangers reached out to ameliorate some of the damages to Avia's home.

Within hours of posting the story and photos of the damage to our Facebook page, reader Bill Wulff stepped up to volunteer.

"Happy to help our neighbor clean up from this . . . anyone in?" Wulff asked. "What is the siding on the house? I heard mineral spirits are good for getting off spray paint but have to be careful with the siding."

A conversation began about the best options for cleaning graffiti and eventually Wulff spoke with Avia directly.

Wulff, a Farview Avenue resident, showed up at Avia's home with a bottle of cleaner called Goof Off — an option suggested by Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Facebook fan Jimmy Cardone.   

"Tried goof off ... It works, but siding is textured and challenging ... Went through a whole bottle in minutes ... Have to get more ... Lots more..." Wulff replied on Facebook later that afternoon.

He was able to get some of the paint off, but the grooves in the siding made the job difficult, and several coats of paint would be required in order to finish the job, he and Avia said.

Another individual hoping to help tried to contact Avia after reading the Wyckoff-Franklin Lakes Patch article detailing the incident.

The individual, who wanted to remain anonymous fearing reprisal for helping Avia, thought the crime was particularly odious. 

"I have an industrial building in Paterson," he said. "I hate graffiti."

Because of his experience with the Paterson property, he'd bought a special chemical designed for graffiti removal on painted surfaces or concrete.

The man said he tried calling Avia, but couldn't get through, "so I just stopped by." He showed up at Avia's door to help and she accepted, they went to work using the chemical cleaner — Tagaway —  to remove the black spray paint on the garage.

"We got it off the garage door completely," he said. "We did it at night in the dark with rags and a flashlight." 

With the black spray paint gone, Avia only had to wait until the weather cleared before she could apply a coat of paint to the garage door.

"I had never met Bill before, and I am overwhelmed by his kindness and concern as well as that of so many other people in town who called and emailed to say how appalled they were by the vicious nature of the vandalism," Avia said.

The man who did not want to be named said he has lived in Wyckoff his whole life and that while any act of vandalism in the township is extraordinary, he doesn't think this latest incident amounts to a shift toward an increase in criminal activity here.

"I don't think there's enough data to say its trending up or down — they're just unfortunate actions just like the whole tree thing," he said, referring to this incident.

Meanwhile, Avia is awaiting a report regarding fingerprints on a can of spray paint she says cops found in the woods across the street from her home.

"I am not afraid nor am I intimidated, I am just saddened that someone would have such animosity toward me," Avia said.

Soon after Wulff's act of kindness, Avia showed up at his doorstep with a "wonderful gift basket" as a token of her appreciation, he said.

Wulff told Avia it wasn't necessary and he was just happy he could help. 

"Amazing how some stupid people use their energy for destruction when the 'high' you can get from helping people is so cool," Wulff said.

Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Joseph M. Gerace at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com, or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox every morning, sign up for our daily newsletter.

John A. Unglert December 19, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Happy to hear Ms. Avia's house has been restored. If it weren't too cold to paint I would volunteer for that job to help out. No one should ever suffer this type of assault. I am wondering how the car owners are doing ? And he lady who has been batteling cancer ? I trust this has not set her back since stress is never good in that situtaion. I hope that the paryers of Wyckoff are with all of those who went through this.
Gary cianci December 19, 2012 at 11:21 PM
A good way to catch this type of vandalism is to install a Trail Camera. You can buy them at Ramsey Outdoor on rt 17. The camera is easy to use and takes clear digital pictures even at night. Cost about $170.00
Ed December 20, 2012 at 10:51 PM
John U - Was in touch with Linda, the cancer battler, a couple of days ago. BTW, she's also one of the people who had a car vandalized; $4,500 worth! She's working her way through this as best as one can expect. The insurance co. is extremely SLOW in getting a claim settled. The vandalism happened on Dec. 8, the adjuster was out on Dec. 15, the Ins. co. told HER to call a claim rep (so much for an agent earning the part of the premium and helping a client out, as if Linda doesn't have enough on her plate!) As Christmas rapidly approaches, she's really apprehensive about going to a religious service and showing up in a car that has the "F" word as well as the "S" word (which rhymes with the "F" word) spray-painted on the car. She will, however, be going but it will be at one of the nigh services when the "misunderstood youths' " handiwork won't be as evident. She logiced that the a*holes were not going to keep her from observing a religious holiday that means so much to her. As a friend of Linda's, I thank you on her behalf for your concern and wish you the happiest and most blessed holiday season.
John A. Unglert December 20, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Thank you Ed. She is a fighter I am sure ! I have never angier than when I read the initial article. As I have said b4 this is an assault on each person. I hope the WPD can find the person(s) responsible and let justice be done. Now we can see how Wyckoff can come together, as neighbors should, and help those in need. Have a very Merry Christmas, Ed, Linda, and everyone !
Joseph M. Gerace December 21, 2012 at 12:53 AM
If anyone hears anything about this please let me know, you can email me at Joseph.Gerace@patch.com and I promise to keep your identity safe. Happy holidays to all!

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