Single mother facing homelessness gets help from son's wrestling team

By Ryan Lessard
Union Leader Correspondent
October 03. 2018 11:43PM
Tia Hawk and her son Landen lost their mobile home in a fire in late August. That's when Landen's wrestling team stepped up. Courtesy 

LONDONDERRY — A single mother was facing homelessness after a fire destroyed her mobile home at Whispering Pines on Aug. 26. Whispering Pines is located in both Derry and Londonderry.

But a community built around her son’s wrestling team and police volunteers helped her family get back on its feet.

Since early September, Tia Hawk, 40, and her 12-year-old autistic son Landen have been living in the Manchester home of Landen’s youth wrestling coach Mike Martioski and his wife Trish Anglin.

And others in the local wrestling community have also provided help in various ways.

“Without blinking, they all just jumped in to help,” Hawk said.

Martioski, a 36-year-old disabled veteran, coaches youth wrestling at the Manchester Police Athletic League.

Martioski said he offered Hawk and her son a place to stay after the Red Cross put them up at a hotel for a few days.

Hawk also received help from Jason Cummings, the MPAL wrestling program director, officer John Levasseur, the MPAL coordinator and boxing coach, and Steve Jackson.

“We take care of our own,” Martioski said.

Jackson solicited and facilitated the donations of clothes, bedding and household items.

And Levasseur’s parents are donating some furniture for her new place, Hawk said.

As a result of the move, Landen had to change schools from North Elementary School in Londonderry to Parkside Middle School in Manchester at the start of this school year. Hawk said Landen entered sixth grade this year.

While Landen usually struggles with big changes, Hawk said, that move proved to be a positive change because Parkside gives Landen the individual attention he needs for his autism, Hawk said.

But Hawk said few things have helped Landen’s confidence more than the MPAL wrestling team.

Martioski said Landen is a star wrestler on the team. He joined in summer of 2017 and in about six months he earned first- and second-place at two state wrestling championships, and fourth place at a youth New England championship.

“I’m pretty sure there were 16 kids in Landen’s bracket,” Hawk said.

She said almost every kid he wrestled was almost 15 pounds heavier than he was at the time.

Martioski said Landen is a hard worker and resilient. It was Landen who called Martioski when he and his mom arrived home after running errands to find their trailer on fire.

“They lost everything,” Martioski said.

Hawk said she was wearing sandals at the time of the fire, and they were only able to save a few bins and a laundry basket of clothes. She had to buy a new pair of sneakers to go back to work.

She’s been a full-time paraeducator at Crotched Mountain School in Greenfield since early August. She loves her work. Hawk said that even though she recently suffered a concussion from some of her students, she is eager to get back to work.

Since the fire, she’s looked at about seven different apartments in the Manchester area. Many didn’t work out because they were unaffordable or not in good shape.

And she thinks at least three didn’t approve her because they learned she has an autistic son.

“It was so discouraging,” she said.

But after about a month of searching, Hawk said she was approved for a nice apartment in Manchester. She said some Manchester police officers and a nonprofit quietly delivered a check of $1,880 to cover the security deposit and first month of rent before she signed the lease.

A Manchester police officer, who wished to remain anonymous, said the McKeryn Bridge Foundation provided the funds after he notified the organization of Hawk’s situation.

Hawk received her apartment key on Monday and is now trying to figure out how to coordinate the move with a truck.

And she said Landen’s bedroom will be triple the size of his room at Whispering Pines.

“Everyone keeps saying everything happens for a reason, and I really believe that now,” Hawk said.

ldnews@unionleader.com


Human InterestGeneral NewsDerryEast DerryLondonderryManchester

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