A Community That is a Village Wraps Themselves Around a Friend

By Liz Johnson

Kristen Driscoll decided to put her home up for sale just after her husband’s death. She didn’t realize what she was in for until a group of friends offered to help.

Kristen Driscoll and her husband Dan had been talking about moving since last summer. Then, Dan died unexpectedly on Jan. 6th. Just after the funeral, her dog Mickey, who was 14, also died.

“Once my husband passed away, it was time,” she said about deciding to put her Lower Makefield house on the market.

Deciding to list the home was one thing. Getting it ready to show proved to be quite another.

“It’s so overwhelming,” Driscoll said with a heavy sign in her voice. “Twenty-three years worth of stuff. You have no idea.”

Her three children are grown and are out of the house, with the exception of her youngest daughter Lucy, a freshman at Arizona State University who has been home during COVID. Her mother lives in New Mexico.

Still, it didn’t take long for Driscoll to realize she was already among family as neighbors in her tight community leapt at the opportunity to help.

“They didn’t give me a chance to say ‘No.’ It was so amazing,” said Driscoll, who has lived in the neighborhood off Dolington Road for more than 20 years.

“God love her, she’s one of my best friends but she buys everything in bulk,” said former neighbor Kristen Studder who was the first to volunteer. “I’m a minimalist and she’s the polar opposite. We just have to laugh about it.”

Studder moved in with Driscoll for a little more than a week while Studder’s husband was in Florida visiting family. She helped sort through things, deciding what would go to the thrift store, what could be picked up by Green Drop, what could be sold on Facebook Marketplace and what to set aside for a yard sale.

More neighbors pitched in to help, each picking tasks they were good at.

“I had to go to Texas to see my son for a week,” Driscoll recalled. “They came in and cleaned the whole thing up for me. I was thrilled.”

“I said ‘Go, we’ll take care of it,’” said Studder. “So Friday night, five couples came over to help. The guys worked their tails off moving furniture. We ordered some pizza and made some fun out of it.”

And stories unfolded that they’ll be telling each other over the next 20 years, like the time they filled the driveway with goods to be donated only to have the donation truck miss the pick up. “Everyone rallied and grabbed a bag or two and took them to thrift stores. We just couldn’t leave it all out there. She needed the space,” said Studder.

In a more bittersweet moment, Driscoll donated her dining room set to a young couple starting out, reminding her of her own early beginnings with her late husband. “They were so appreciative,” said Studder.

In early April, Driscoll held a yard sale with the help of friend Caity DeMaio that netted close to $1,400 in sales. It was the last push before Driscoll put the house on the market, listing it with neighbor Jackie Hillgrube. “She’s a dynamo,” said Driscoll.

“I will say Jackie has been amazing with Kristen, really gentle through the whole process. She’s been wonderful,” said Studder.

“I have lived here for 27 years and was the first deposit. I have seen this village change, but always the same quality of homeowners come and settle in our Camelot!” , says Jackie. The house went on the market three days ago and already there are offers.

“The market is crazy. My guess is Kristen’s house is going to sell pretty quickly,” said Studder.

Driscoll said she intends to throw a big bash once she has a deal in place. Then, once the closing is over, she’s going to take a year and travel, visiting her children and mother out West.

“It’s been such a whirlwind,” she said. “I need to do some healing and take some time. But I am going to miss everyone here.” For others who are faced with downsizing, Driscoll advises to accept help when it’s offered.

“People really do want to be there for you. They want to do something tangible. Just open yourself up and let them help you. Everyone comes with a different set of skills. I wouldn’t have known how to do all of this by myself,” she said. “So many neighbors stepped up to help with everything that needed to get done both inside and out. I am so grateful and blessed.”

As Jackie Hillgrube says, “Love your neighbor, love your family…when you move to Camelot your neighbors become your family.”


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