The Other America: Not Walking Away

Seth Doane is a CBS News correspondent based in New York.
(CBS)
We spent several days shooting with the Castellucci family at their home in Gloucester, Mass. But it wasn't until we had wrapped that, in a lengthy telephone conversation, Lisa Castellucci revealed it was the first time she and her husband had really processed what they'd been through. They spent the last few months struggling just to make it day to day … and spending the time to think about their ordeal is a luxury they couldn't afford.

Just about a year ago, the Castelluccis' seemed to have it all. Both husband and wife were college-educated, owned their own home, and ran a successful family business. But, a tough local economy hit their family-owned auto-body business hard and the customers simply stopped coming through the door. They spiraled into debt and finally were forced to close their business. They were determined, though, to pay off their debts as they lived in a small community and knew they'd have to face the other small business-owners that they owed.

"It really would have been easier to stick everything on bankruptcy and just walk away but some of the people were our friends," Lisa said.

I first learned about the Castellucci family through Julie LaFontaine, the director of the local "Cape Ann / Open Door Food Pantry." I was searching for a good story and Julie knew the Castellucci family had an important one to tell. Unfortunately, LaFontaine says lately she has seen more and more people in need of assistance that never had to ask before, "With economy as it is, we are definitely seeing it more and more," LaFontaine says.

The Castelluccis took some time to think about talking with the national media about their very private struggle. Ultimately, though, they decided that it was important for others to hear about what they'd been through and for families in the same situation to know that they were not alone. They've found that through this have become more resourceful, have cut out the extras, and find enjoyment in free activities like walking to their local park, feeding the birds, or playing along the shoreline of a nearby beach.

Things are looking up for the Casteluccis. David, the father, has a new job working for Konica Minolta. He says that he's now finally able to use his college degree and background in computer science and is thrilled to have a job. "You feel like a better father in a lot of ways, because you're going to work and you're getting to sweat a little bit and you go home tired and that's good," he says.

"We just keep plugging away and we try not to worry about tomorrow," David said. "Because that is enough to worry about… let's worry about today."