A number of parents and friends have helped in Gilly's House efforts and we want to include their stories in our newsletter. Kate & Scott Sandvos of Walpole furnished, decorated and dedicated the lounge to their son Will. Here is their story about how they found Gilly's House:
William Scott Sandvos, His mother called him a 'Gentle Giant' and he was. Will was always big for his age and other kids were naturally drawn to his large personality and love for life. He was surrounded by the love of his little sister, parents, cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. Kate’s Mom, who the kids call 'Gaga' was a true champion of all things as she became a constant presence in his life and ours. By any measurement Will grew up in a small, close knit community of friends filled with the constant chatter of baseball in the backyard or assorted games at the pool. He was the “Mayor” of Swan Pond City as he called it and he was a loyal friend.
Up through 7th grade Will attended Blessed Sacrament School in Walpole and then moved onto the public schools and high school. As a kid he played outside all the time. Inside TV was never passive—it was interactive with Will. He would dress up as one of the characters from Mary Poppins, clanging pots and pans. His mother walked into the room and saw Will’s eyes filling with tears and wondered what he was watching; it was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs when it appeared Snow White had lost her life. He was always a sensitive boy and wore his heart on his sleeve. Will also had a great love of baseball, Little League again was his stage with his parents running the snack bar and sister Nell sitting with Grammie and Pops to watch him play. He had great instincts and enjoyed everything about the game. When he was 12 his team made it to the state championship and came within a couple of wins of making it to the Little League World Series. Will wasn’t a great student in school, but Kate and I would always hear this from his teachers: “...Will is such a pleasure to have in class...” A big personality who engaged well with everyone including his teachers.
Will was such a big kid that the football coaches begged him to come play. He finally took it up in 8th grade and made a new circle of friends in a new sport. Unfortunately in his senior year of high school, Will suffered a broken thumb. It was surgically repaired, but he was also exposed to opioids and like most high school kids he and his friends experimented with drinking and pot. Parents + Family all rallied around Will to support him in his battle against addiction. Will loved the time spent with his uncle working at three Super Bowls. His love for the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins was quite strong. He would attend many a parade to see his sports heroes in the duck boats. At his addiction’s worst, we tried sending Will to rehab centers in New Hampshire, California and Las Vegas. Will would always make the calls to centers seeking help. He desperately wanted his life back and many times told us that he wished he had never tried heroin. When Will lost his battle so many lives were touched and shattered. We were blessed by the support of so many good friends and family who help us move forward.
Like a lot of parents who have dedicated rooms at Gilly’s House, We take Great Pride in 'Will’s Lounge' where young men gather watching sporting events and talk about their day. It is the Perfect Room in Will’s honor & he would have loved it. The Love in the house Barbara & Dave have built foster is palpable. It can + will be a difference maker in young men’s lives so that we can save parents the grief many of us have endured. We are in Awe of the volunteers, friends and support staff who Make Gilly’s House a Safe Haven and a place for young men to get their lives back.