For 45 years, Joseph Badame of Medford, New Jersey was preparing for a disaster. If anything serious happened that required sustaining their lives for a long period of time while sheltered, he wanted to be sure he and his wife, Phyliss, were prepared.
Then, a disaster did come, but not in the form that would require the kind of preparation that Badame had prepared for. It was much worse.
Preparing For The Worst
Badame, an architectural engineer by trade, had constructed and designed their home of 8,500-square feet with a shelter in their basement. Badame was continually working to improve it—not just for himself, but so that it could accommodate other families as well.
There were multiple bunk beds, kerosene-powered refrigerators, and a massive amount of food: non-perishable, of course.
Badame is a survivalist, but he wasn’t expecting an apocalypse (zombie or otherwise). It was more like a project with a purpose.
“Phyliss decided that we needed to prepare,” Badame told the Washington Post in an interview. It was as simple as that.
An Unexpected Loss
Then, in 2005, Phyliss suffered a stroke and became paralyzed—it was an unexpected tragedy no shelter could cure.
Badame immediately retired from his job to take care of his wife full-time. Eight years later, she passed away, and her beloved husband found himself broke, due to overwhelming medical bills, and alone.
Because of his financial situation, he fell behind on his mortgage payments and defaulted on his loan.
Suddenly, the home he had designed and built, complete with a protective shelter, was being taken away by the bank. They were foreclosing on the place he loved dearly, where he spent more than 50 years with his wife. His heart crumbled.
e Badame said. “There was no reason for me to continue the survival center. I just didn’t have a purpose in life.”
A Chance Encounter
In his grief, he began the process of liquidating most everything he owned by having an estate sale.
That’s when Badame met Anthony and Victoria Barber. Victoria is Puerto Rican and she and her husband were hired to help run the sale. Victoria’s role was to provide food for potential buyers who came to the sale.
A Life-Changing Conversation
In speaking with Victoria, their conversation led to a discussion about how she was raising money to help feed over 50 of her family members who were still in Puerto Rico, and who were struggling in the aftermath of recent hurricanes.
It turned out to be a life-changing conversation, for both Badame and Victoria.
Badame had an idea that was too much of a coincidence to ignore. He had plenty of food in his shelter, and Barber’s family was in great need. That was all it took! When Victoria saw Badame’s basement and all of the food he had accumulated—all 80 barrels of it—she was shocked!
To The Rescue!
“This is saving their lives,” she said. “My grandmother has nothing right now, she lost it all.”
In the process, Badame became something of a father-figure to Victoria. Her father had died when she was very young. Victoria made sure Badame understood that his life’s work was not in vain, and in his loss, he was appreciated by so many.
“I’m tired, old, depressed, feeling like I’m a failure regarding the survival thing,” said Badame. “Then Victoria Barber came along, gave me a shot of adrenaline. I couldn’t believe it.”
Even in loss, there is always hope!