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.
"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.
"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.
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