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Bayside family seeks aid during rough economic climate

Larry and Maureen Hilsdorf have spent their entire lives in Bayside and a fund−raiser to aid the couple and their six children this weekend is a reminder why they have stayed in the neighborhood.

Larry Hilsdorf, 51, worked as a police officer for 19 years before suffering two heart attacks and retiring in 1998. Since that time, he has faced rheumatoid arthritis as well as lung, esophageal and colon cancer, and been through numerous operations.

Maureen Hilsdorf, 48, who once worked as a manager at Bayside’s Bourbon Street restaurant and now takes random shifts as well as putting in several hours each day at Flushing Savings Bank, has been struggling not only to ensure there is enough money for her husband’s surgery, but also paying for her children’s school tuition and caring for her 87−year−old father, who lives with the family.

“Social Security has denied us,” she said. “Because my husband could not work for five years, they will not pay for disability. It’s very overwhelming.”

But Hilsdorf will get a little help Saturday from her friends as well as community residents who she does not even know.

Bourbon Street’s managers and neighborhood church Sacred Heart, where Larry Hilsdorf attended school, are hosting a fund−raiser at the church to collect money for the family. Hilsdorf said the family was deeply moved at how numerous people from the community have offered their support.

“All my friends and people in the community have gotten together for this,” she said. “It’s been rough, but it’s amazing what friends can do. It seems like people are coming out of the woodwork.”

The fund−raiser will begin at 8 p.m. at the church, at 215−35 38th Ave. in Bayside. It will include food from several neighborhood eateries, music provided by a disc jockey, alcoholic beverages, raffles and a silent auction.

Maureen Hilsdorf said there was no specific amount that the family was trying to raise.

Hilsdorf said her husband is currently homebound after having worked for several years as a bartender following his retirement from the NYPD. He was assigned to Astoria’s 114th Precinct and Bayside’s 111th Precinct before taking a desk job at Ridgewood’s 104th Precinct.

“He was a big, burly guy, but he’s lost 110 pounds,” she said. “Right now, he’s fighting a very bad infection in his stomach. He still has a hole in his belly and they don’t want to operate with a mass of infection.”

She said her husband’s doctors are a surgical oncologist and a primary−care physician from North Shore−Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Maureen Hilsdorf has been using money from her husband’s police pension and her part−time work to pay for the mortgage on the family’s home as well as their children’s school tuition at Sacred Heart School and Holy Cross High School. The couple has six boys, ages 10, 12, 15−year−old twins, 17 and 22.

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, said he had donated to the family’s cause and that the civic would put together a collection for the Hilsdorfs.

“It’s something that’s germane for our community,” he said. “They need all the help they can get.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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