PEPPERELL – The Chestnut Street home of Peggy and Bob Scholefield has opened its doors for numerous people, young and old, for over 50 years. On a chilly Wednesday morning, Peggy opened her doors to a different group of guests: electricians and plumbers.
A. Fagundes Plumbing & Heating Inc. out of Lowell dedicated its annual Help A Neighbor program to installing a new boiler in the Scholefield house. Al Fagundes, head of the company, said last month that this is the fourth year the company has offered the program that has previously donated installation services and equipment to families and organizations in need, including the Portuguese American Youth Center in Lowell. Fagundes said he heard about the Scholefield through the sister-in-law of Scott Scholefield, Peggy and Bob’s son. The company reached out to the family last December
“We decided that the it would be whatever it needed to be for the homeowner,” Fagundes said. “We always wanted to give back to the community. There are a lot of charities to give to and it’s hard to find which charities to give to, so we decided to be giving charity directly and what better way than by using our services?”
Fagundes provided free plumbing work to the Scholefield home while Joe Mello Electric from Lowell installed the boiler itself and Alfa O’Mega from Lynn picked up the old boiler to dispose of it. Fagundes described the old boiler, originally installed over 50 years ago, as “a beast” and too big for the space in the Scholefield basement. Peggy herself said the boiler would occasionally shut off at random times. The new boiler is a PurePro Trio boiler from F.B. Webb, valued at over $7,500 and is half the size of the prior boiler.
The Scholefield family have a long history in Pepperell. Peggy and her husband Bob first moved to their Chestnut Street home from Tewksbury in the 1960s. Peggy said that she and Bob found the house during a Sunday drive in February that year and decided to explore it.
“When we first opened the door, it felt like I was home,” she said. “The dining room was the first room that really struck me. We had to put in a kitchen when we moved in, a whole kitchen.”
There was certainly a need for space, as the Scholefields began housing foster kids, some they even adopted into the family. That passion came from Peggy and Bob’s own childhoods, as she said Bob himself was adopted when he was nine months old and never met his birth parents. Peggy said she wanted to have 12 children after being inspired by the 1950 movie “Cheaper by the Dozen” and growing up with one sister. Peggy said the children she and Bob took in were from Fitchburg, Leominster and even Boston.
But as their children, biological and adopted, grew up and moved out, the Scholefields found a new group of people to offer a home to in the 1970s.
“There was a social worker who came to the door and said to take in some veterans,” Peggy said. “He came every ten days with the most innocent people. They taught me so much.”
Peggy said that many of the veterans came from the Community Residential Care program at the Bedford Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Many of the veterans were middle-aged whose parents were too old to help care for them or couldn’t find proper care on their own. Though she’s in her later years and Bob passed away on Feb. 1 this year at 87 from lung cancer, Peggy still cares for veterans at the house.
One of them is Richard Diggs, 78, who served as a corporal in the Army from 1962-1965. Diggs said he came to the Scholefield home about five years ago after needing medical treatment due to his alcoholism.
“I couldn’t handle myself so the VA brought me here,” Diggs said. “I was always willing to help out, it was better than hanging around and doing nothing. It helped with my sobriety. Now I love it here. As long as this place is here, I’m here.”
Peggy said that she and Scott intend to keep the home open to veterans and others in need for as long as possible.
“I want to give back to her, so I promised her that I would carry on what she does,” he said.