EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8 wants to recognize the significant contributions women have made to our nation and local communities. Remarkable Women of Connecticut is part of a nationwide Nexstar Media initiative to honor the influence that women have had on public policy, social progress and the quality of life.
When you meet East Haven’s Maureen Melillo, you’re meeting a confident woman, a mom, and a businesswoman who can raise a family and build the home in which they live.
What you don’t see is how she got there.
“There was a leak in the bathroom upstairs,” Melillo said. “The water was coming down into my house, out the front window. For the life of me, I couldn’t find the water main. I went downstairs. They were all the same color. I had no clue. I felt completely helpless.”
She felt helpless in a leaky basement because she’d just lost her husband, who would typically take care of the handy work, to ALS.
“During that time, we lost my father, my brother, my husband, and my sister,” she said.
It was the rock bottom you hear about and the moment her life changed.
“Once I was done with my meltdown, I was like, I never want to feel that way again. I took the do-over. I cashed out everything I had, and I opened my own company.
She not only learned how to handle leaking pipes, but she also taught herself to renovate spaces. She launched what’s known today as MDW Restoration. It’s touted as the state’s first woman-run lead abatement and asbestos company, transforming for eight years running.
What does MDW stand for, you ask?
“My sister and I came up with that,” Melillo said. “‘Mama’s Don’t Work.’ We were so wrong.”
The company supports children’s health for those like her son with neurological issues and second chances for adults like herself and her sister, who both struggled at one time.
“We always hired people who were either in recovery or had turned their lives around,” Melillo said.
She makes a difference in the lives of employees, customers, and even her own daughter.
“Seeing her go through what she went through and coming out stronger and better and doing all the amazing things she did really inspires me,” her daughter said. “And makes me feel like anything is possible for me.”
From a lost moment in a leaky basement to leading a company and family, Melillo is ready for whatever comes next.
“I’m not afraid of anything anymore,” she said. “It’s like I’ll figure it out.”