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100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children

 
Stu
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05/04/2010 10:35 PM

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100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
She’s 100 years old and facing foreclosure

An army of volunteers seeks to help “Aunt Aggie,” a 100-year-old Monee woman who raised 40 foster kids on her farm


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100-year-old Agnes Albinger stands on the front porch of her 70-acre Monee farm she fears losing to foreclosure. (Tribunne photo by Michael Tercha / April 19, 2010)



Property By Colleen Mastony, Tribune reporter

8:37 p.m. CDT, April 27, 2010
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Let the bankers come with their foreclosure notices. Invite the building inspectors, too. At 100 years old, Agnes Albinger has lived on her 70-acre patch of farmland longer than most of those people have been alive.

She has seen two world wars come and go, survived the Depression — in part by subsisting on minnow stew — and raised 40 foster children. Now, she has become a rallying point in this rural community as she fights to keep her Monee farm.

"I'll never leave," she said one recent morning, as she stood with a walker on her sagging front porch, looking out over the fields she tended for most of her life. "I'd like to stay here until I die. This is my home. This was my land. I owned everything once. I worked awful hard on this place to make it what it was."

As Albinger faces foreclosure on the property where she has lived since 1949, a coalition of friends and strangers has mobilized to help the woman everyone calls "Aunt Aggie." They have set up a , Web site, saveagnesfarm.com, and volunteered to help with cleaning and repairs. On a recent Saturday, nearly 100 people showed up to clear brush and haul away rusting farm equipment.


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For many in Will County, helping Albinger seems to be one of the few ways they can push back against the waves of foreclosures and layoffs that have swept the nation.

"It goes further than what's happening to Agnes. This same thing is happening all over. The value of American land is going down, homes are foreclosing. All these bankers think about is how much money they can make," said Jim Armstrong, 59, a friend who helped organize volunteers. "They don't care that there's people who live on this land, people who love this land."

As for Albinger, she says she'd rather die than leave. Her body is stooped with age and her hands are gnarled from decades of labor. But her mind seems sharp, and she fiercely defends her right to live independently. " Nursing homes are made for people who cannot help themselves," said Albinger, who uses a walker and who has a live-in caretaker to help with the heavier chores. "I can cook my own meals. I can do my own dishes. I can do everything myself."

But the question of her best interests remains complicated. The farm has fallen into disrepair. The yard is strewn with cast-off furniture, stacks of old tractor tires, two abandoned cars. The porch is piled with junk. The roof leaks and, until recently, Albinger kept her last chicken inside the house, to protect it from raccoons.

And yet, when asked what the place means to her, Albinger replied simply: "Home. Don't you have a home? Then you know what it means. It's security. Love. Peacefulness."

From 1 big family to another

The fifth of 11 children, Albinger was born in 1909 to Lithuanian immigrant farmers who cultivated land they rented near Kankakee. As a child, she attended class in a one-room school house, herded cows on the open prairie and helped plow fields with a team of horses. After a failed harvest, the family moved to Chicago, where in 1940 Albinger married her husband, Matthew. "A wonderful husband," she said.

The couple couldn't have children of their own, so they became foster parents, taking in the orphaned and abandoned. They bought the farm in Monee in 1949. Back then, Albinger said the land was still "all prairies, all over. Wild animals, everywhere you could see." But, a few years after they purchased the property, Matthew died of a heart ailment, she and family members said.

"When my husband died, I had the four (foster) kids," Albinger recalled. "And the welfare let me keep them. They said they'll be company for me. As they grew up, I got more."

Over the years, she raised 35 boys and five girls. In 1969, she was nominated for Cook County Foster Mother of the Year, according to news clippings.

"She taught me everything — how to live and survive," said Michael Follmann, 54, who had bounced between more than a dozen "pretty brutal" foster homes by the time he came to Albinger's farm. "I was a hot-headed young boy at the age of 9 after all the stuff that happened to me. I didn't trust or believe in anybody. Then Agnes stepped into my life and taught me what it was like to trust people again, to have faith in people."

"In my opinion, she saved my life," said Greg Crosby, 54, who was 5 years old when his father abandoned him and five other siblings. The children had been malnourished and close to starvation, Crosby said, when Albinger took them in — all six kids — and made sure that the state didn't split them up. "She taught us how to garden and things like that. She taught us to take care of animals. It meant everything."

"I got my work ethic and, I think, my integrity through her," said Greg's brother, Ray Crosby, 57.

"I still call her ‘Mom,' " said Richard Rose, 49, who was 6 when he came to the farm. "Who knows where I would be if it wasn't for her."

Albinger introduced her foster children to the wonders of farm life. She showed them how to feed baby chicks by dripping water off a fingertip, and how to use a hand crank to separate the milk from the cream. She kept all sorts of animals including, at times, two peacocks, a pony and a monkey.

Life followed the rhythms of the seasons. They planted corn in the spring, cut hay in the summer and brought turnips into the cellar in the fall.


read more here :


[link to www.chicagotribune.com]
_____________________________________
There is no use removing doubts one by one. If we clear one doubt another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts. But, if by seeking the doubter, the doubter is found to be really non-existent, then all doubts will cease. -- Ramana Maharshi


You have to keep breaking
your heart until it opens.

~ Rumi
Mister ObviousModerator
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05/04/2010 10:37 PM

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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
So why don't any of the foster kids who are now grown help her out?
Anonymous Coward
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Australia
05/04/2010 10:37 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
They should donate it to her ffs she deserves it
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 699917
United States
05/04/2010 10:38 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
If she owned the home since 1949, why does she still have a mortgage on it?
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 956509
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05/04/2010 10:40 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
Damn!

You'd think more of those 40 kids would help her out financially (or their kids, since many of them would be rather old now too). Just think: if each of the 40 kids' families pitched in...that farm would be saved.
Stu (OP)

User ID: 838921
United States
05/04/2010 10:42 PM

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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
If she owned the home since 1949, why does she still have a mortgage on it?
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 699917




looks like an evil niece took advantage of her by taking loan out on property


Update :


does appear the original bank went under, got seized by FDIC and new bank is halting foreclousure until investigating loan


hopefully theyll nab the niece
_____________________________________
There is no use removing doubts one by one. If we clear one doubt another doubt will arise and there will be no end of doubts. But, if by seeking the doubter, the doubter is found to be really non-existent, then all doubts will cease. -- Ramana Maharshi


You have to keep breaking
your heart until it opens.

~ Rumi
Anonymous Coward
User ID: 959446
Australia
05/04/2010 10:42 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
Her niece has ripped her off the piece of shit.

The farm had been free of debt, family members said, until 2000, when court and land records show that Albinger took out a $100,000 mortgage on the property. Albinger then began to sign over parcels of land to a trust and also to a company called Phoenix Horizon LLC, which according to state records was formed by Albinger's niece, Bridget Gruzdis, 47.

In an e-mailed response to questions from the Tribune, Gruzdis said Phoenix Horizon was created "for the sole purpose of land development and sale."

Over six years, Albinger and Gruzdis took out a series of mortgages on the farm, eventually borrowing $700,000, according to court and land records.
Enaid

User ID: 515273
United States
05/04/2010 10:43 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
How much does she owe?
--
Ggggggggrrrrrrrr re the neice

Hope she claims bs on that loan and wins.

Last Edited by Enaid on 05/04/2010 10:45 PM
Personal responsibility - try it sometime. Quit blaming others for your bad choices. Consequences happen.

:enaid11:
Anonymous Coward
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05/04/2010 10:46 PM
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Re: 100 year old woman faces foreclosure, raised 40 foster children
How much does she owe?
 Quoting: Enaid

700k all stolen by her niece through a company she didn't even know about.
The niece is trying to offload it for 4.6m and keep the money through the company that now owns most of it and put her in a home like usually happens by greedy selfish evil pigs.

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