Naeemah Polhill said education is the main reason why she and her husband, Ray, moved their family from Newark to Dingmans Ferry. “My husband and I wanted our children to go to school in a really good school district,” Naeemah said. “My husband thinks the quality of the school district has a lot to do with the quality of their learning and the opportunities that follow.”
Ray drives two hours every day to his job in New Jersey. But they feel it’s all worth it, including the down-to-the-wire ordeal the family just went through getting settled in.
Naeemah contacted the Courier earlier this month saying she was in desperate need of help, after living for months in Airbnbs and motels. They couldn’t get their utility, Met-Ed, to hook up electricity to their new home, which was delivered to their property on Nov. 4. She said Met-Ed stalled the process, “costing the builders and myself thousands of dollars.”
“They claim that Covid has put them behind, and now they have the weather as an excuse not to do their jobs,” Naeemah said. “We recently moved into our RV on our land in Dingmans Ferry because we had run out of money and had nowhere else to go.”
Their home builder, Michael Holobetz, began calling Met-Ed in August as he cleared trees and laid the foundation. Naeemah said Holobetz would sometimes call Met-Ed three times a day, so that their electrician could come and determine what was needed. They paid for two poles prior to installation. “We paid over a thousand dollars for the second pole,” Naeemah said. “It took literally weeks for Mike to track down the scheduler and information just so that we could pay to get the work started, plus more weeks to get an appointment from Met-Ed to come.”
After two missed appointments because of inclement weather, Met-Ed finally came. They initially said the job would take two days. “When Met-Ed workers arrived, they were met with a surprise,” Naeemah said. “They didn’t expect a family to be living in an RV on the land. The workers seemed shocked. They kept kind of peeking from a distance in the RV. I think they were confused about why we were there, but we didn’t have a choice but to live in that RV. We had no more money.”
She said the family spent more than $2,800 a month on Airbnbs from September to their last day on Dec. 8. “If we didn’t have to spend money on an Airbnb, we would have a washer and dryer, and beds to sleep in,” she said. “We would be able to afford the moving truck to get our clothes and our furniture out of storage. I would be able to afford to get my truck out of the shop. Thankfully the mechanic has not received the new computer for the truck, to replace it. That’s $986.”
They faced a choice: get their furniture out of storage or their truck out of the shop. Ray fell behind two car payments because of the cost of temporary accommodations. “And we had to pay for water,” Naeemah said. “My husband picked up water from Walmart at 39 cents a gallon for all our family’s needs.”
When their first automatic mortgage payment started in November, their savings were almost depleted. “That’s when we had to make the choice to stay in our RV,” Naeemah said. “Our closest family is over two hours away from the kids’ school, and in a very different environment than our kids are accustomed to. Not to mention, my husband’s mother, our closest family, is over 70, fighting cancer. My husband is a corrections officer in Newark and did not want to possibly expose his mother to the virus. His brother, who lives with and cares for his mother, is also a diabetic who receives dialysis.”
The Polhills’ neighbors, who own a landscaping business in New Jersey, plowed their driveway so that the contractors and Met-Ed could come in and work. “We are grateful for their generosity because we didn’t want another excuse as to why Met-Ed could not put the poles in,” Naeemah said. “My husband and sons also shoved the stakes in the ground where the poles would be so that the workers could easily get in and out to do their job.”
Naeemah is grateful to the staff at the Delaware Valley School District. “They did not have to help us,” she said. “They went above and beyond to make sure our kids, especially the little ones, had a good Christmas. They arranged for our stay at The Best Western in Matamoras. The administrators, teachers, and staff collected $500 and gave us gift cards so the kids could have Christmas.”
Wrestling coaches at the school, Lou DeLauro and Nick Irwin, gave the family a $100 gift card to The Grill in Matamoras. On Christmas day at The Best Western, DeLauro and Irwin dropped off pizza and pasta for the children. They even brought a tree to the motel. The family also received an Olympia Sports gift card from The Dimmick Inn so that the two eldest boys could get equipment for football, wrestling, and track.
Now that the family has electricity, and water from their electrically driven pump, Ray won’t be stopping for water at Walmart anymore.
Met-Ed did not return calls by press time.
The Delaware Valley School District “went above and beyond to make sure our kids, especially the little ones, had a good Christmas.” Naeemah Polhill