Real Simple Finds Community in Cold Spring

The Santos family will be subject of story by neighbor

Last May, Maria Ricapito was sitting in her living room on Parrott Street, working on her computer, when suddenly a neighbor flung open the front door, yelling that there was a fire.

real simple nov 2015

The November issue of Real Simple.

Ricapito heard sirens and stepped onto her porch, where she was stunned at what she saw. Directly across the street, the Santos family home was in flames. “There were flames coming out the window,” she said. “I corralled my cats and sat and watched and then came out and sat with other neighbors…. It was surreal.”

Ricapito had worked as an editor at Real Simple years ago and occasionally writes for them as a freelancer. In the months following the fire, Ricapito was struck at how the community had come together in support of the family. She also had taken note of how the family was rebounding.

“I thought about it and this seemed like a story Real Simple might like,” she said. “It’s heartwarming in many ways, and leads to the question of ‘How can you help in your community?’ wherever that community is.” Her story will appear in the November issue, which will be on newsstands next week. A $5 version for the iPad is available for download at

“We hear so much about divisiveness, but this was the opposite,” Ricapito said. “I saw it — local people pitching in, hosing down the outside of the house, bringing meals, dropping off donations; neighbors helping carry things out of the home; store owners starting collection jars; Girl Scouts bringing pizza; lacrosse players helping out; the Food Pantry reaching out to the family, [inviting] them to come and get supplies; a steady stream of people coming to help.”

The opening of Maria Ricapito's story in the November issue of Real Simple (photo courtesy Real Simple)

The opening of Maria Ricapito’s story in the November issue of Real Simple (photo courtesy Real Simple)

Over the summer, Real Simple asked Ricapito to put the word out and many of those who had helped gathered together in front of the house, along with the Santos family, for a group photograph, which will run with the story.

“They say [in journalism] there are stories all around you,” Ricapito notes, “Well, this one was right here.”

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