DSC 7541 resized 600Lisa and Buddy Vanderhoop with Wiley, their Weimeraner, at Owen Park Beach on Martha’s Vineyard.

Imagine living in the same home for 23 years. It becomes a sanctuary – the place you not only lay your head every night, but where you find comfort, peace and make a treasure trove of memories that are impossible to put a price on.

Now imagine that being taken away from you in an instant.

That is exactly where Lisa and Buddy Vanderhoop found themselves last year. They stood at the precipice of losing the one constant in their life for nearly a quarter century. “It was the worst, most stressful time of my entire life… I thought I was having a nervous breakdown. At times I’d go from being sobbingly depressed to being numb,” Ms. Vanderhoop said. “This is where my husband grew up, where his ancestry is. If we lose this house we lose our businesses and our livelihoods.”

For Buddy, Martha’s Vineyard has always been home. It is where he was born and tied his anchor, becoming the Island’s most famous charter fishing captain with a list of celebrity clients that have included Keith Richards, Spike Lee, Michael Mann, Jim Belushi and the late-Thomas Menino. He has been featured on Chronicle, The Moth Radio Hour and the Discovery Channel.

And his wife is an accomplished artist and photographer.

Despite their success they have not been immune to life’s pitfalls. It started in 2008 when Buddy’s youngest daughter was in a car accident on Hawaii, forcing him to travel west and cancel a month’s worth of charter trips during the height of the tourist season.

The spiral downward continued when Buddy’s brother was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. “My husband would escort him off-island to medical appointments,” Ms. Vanderhoop said, only adding to the family’s expenses.

That was followed by costly boat repairs and eventually with Buddy being diagnosed with prostate cancer over a year and a half ago. That diagnosis meant Buddy was unable to work for three months as he went through radiation treatment. And then last spring, the 64-year-old Buddy Vanderhoop suffered a heart attack.

As they faced these personal difficulties over the past four years, the Vanderhoops struggled to make their mortgage payments. Several times they tried unsuccessfully to work with their lenders to modify their loan to reduce their monthly payments.

HAC: The Vanderhoop’s Last Hope

Though the couple continued to make their payments, they were falling behind on their loan until March 2013 when it was placed into default. As the Vanderhoops continued to seek a home loan modification they were informed in February of last year that their loan holder, Ocwen, was starting the foreclosure process.

“Basically, everybody said we were going to lose our house,” Ms. Vanderhoop said.

Looking for guidance, they consulted a mortgage lawyer who directed them to HAC. With nowhere else to turn, she and her husband made the trip to Hyannis last May, meeting with HAC’s foreclosure prevention counselor Joan Maney.

“She was unlike anybody I have ever talked to. When we met with Joan she was no nonsense,” Ms. Vanderhoop said. “She was being very, very firm about what was needed. I left the office crying because I was so vulnerable anyway, but I was also crying with a smile on my face because this lady seemed like she knew what she is talking about.”

Two more times the pair would meet with Maney, filling out the necessary paperwork to be considered for a loan modification. Their efforts were successful as they were approved for a three-month temporary loan modification before it recently became permanent.

Their interest rate fell from 6.5 percent to two percent and they cut their monthly payments by nearly $1,900. “I truly believe it was because of your organization and Joan, why we ended up getting the loan modification,” Ms. Vanderhoop said.

Not every story has a happy ending like the Vanderhoops, but Maney said it is possible. What HAC provides, she said, is an understanding of “what the lender is looking for and how to best prepare an application.”

Because of that expertise, the Vanderhoops are now excitedly looking towards what life will bring. “It is such a relief,” Ms. Vanderhoop said. “I feel like we can take this energy and put it into our businesses and have a future, a real future.”