Mary Wyatt wept yesterday -- tears of joy, this time, instead of tears of despair.
The kindness of others simply overwhelmed her and her family, facing the loss of their Northeast Baltimore rowhouse after her husband, Walter, suffered a back injury that rendered him incapable of working. In April, Congress killed a federal program that would have helped the couple and their three children keep their home.
Yesterday, more than 50 good Samaritans offered to help. Sandy Hoffman of Pikesville had called to say she'd drop by later with clothing for the children. Then Ken Steinbach of Caton Auto Clinic offered to help pay the mortgage by contributing to a fund to be opened today on the family's behalf.
A Bel Air husband and wife, who asked not to be identified, offered to make several mortgage payments. Ernie Mills, a Towson retiree and volunteer, began organizing a drive to collect household goods and clothing for the children. A member of Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church offered his parish's financial counseling services.
"I'm on an emotional roller coaster, but I'm really touched," Mrs. Wyatt said yesterday, choking back tears.
"One day," she told callers, "I'll be in a position to help somebody else."
She and her husband, Walter, now facing foreclosure, fell behind six months on their $532 monthly loan payments after serious back injuries left Mr. Wyatt temporarily disabled.
The Wyatts got a foreclosure notice from NationsBank in July, three months after Congress ended a program that would have allowed them to reduce or postpone payments on their FHA-insured mortgage for up to three years.
The family's plight, detailed in The Sunday Sun, has now drawn dozens of offers of financial help and prompted organized efforts to collect household items and raise money toward the mortgage.
"I don't think anybody in America should be forced out of their home," said Dennis Nolte of Chesapeake Telephone Co. in Hanover, a Severna Park resident who said he wanted to make a donation.
The Sun took more than 50 calls from people yesterday wanting to help the family. Others contacted Walter Wyatt directly in his hospital room at Sinai Hospital, where he underwent back surgery last week.
A fund in care of Walter and Mary Wyatt will be open today at Eastern Savings Bank, 1417 Reisterstown Road, Pikesville 21208. Donations of clothing or household goods may be brought to 103 Kenilworth Park Drive, Apt. 4B, in Towson.
The 32-year-old Mr. Wyatt, an employee of Victory Racing Plate RTC Co. in Rosedale, suffered back injuries more than a year ago while repairing equipment.
The injuries sidelined him, first for 2 1/2 months last year, then since May 12, after doctors discovered ruptured discs and nerve damage.
Both his employer and its insurer have challenged his workers' compensation claim, contending that his injuries did not stem from the accident.
But the state Workers Compensation Commission in Baltimore, in a February ruling, found that Mr. Wyatt had been injured on the job.
Because of the appeals, the commission has rescinded disability pay it had initially awarded for the period since May. The Wyatts have been forced onto food stamps and Aid to Families with Dependent Children.
"Here's somebody who's so willing to keep the American dream and this is what happens to them, something not in their control," said Carol Brown, who works for United Container Machinery Group in Glen Arm. "With three children, you'd hate to see them lose their home."
Pub Date: 9/24/96