By Jennifer Mauro | Associate Editor
John McCrone may have received national recognition from the American Red Cross, but he’s the first to admit his work with seniors was, and continues to be, a team effort.
“My volunteers are really the ones carrying out the American Red Cross mission,” said McCrone, coordinator of the Catholic Charities, Diocese of Trenton, Fix-It Program, which helps senior citizens with minor home repairs across Ocean County.
McCrone recently received the American Red Cross’ 2017 Outstanding Partner Recipient Award for his contributions to its Home Fire Campaign, specifically for McCrone’s help in installing smoke detectors with long-lasting batteries in the homes of senior citizens. The award is the highest given to partner agencies.
“The fact that the smoke detectors have 10-year batteries was a huge quality-of-life improvement for our clients,” McCrone said, providing as an example that oftentimes, volunteers go into a home where the sound of a dying battery has been going off for some time.
McCrone credits the partnership between Fix-It and the American Red Cross to his predecessor, Tom Connors, whom he succeeded in April 2016.
“He recognized it as a great partnership because we go in and out of seniors’ homes all the time,” said McCrone of St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant.
Since the partnership was formed in April, Fix-It volunteers have installed 156 smoke detectors in 95 homes. More than 50 percent of those homes had no smoke detectors or had devices that had either expired or were inoperable.
“We’re potentially saving lives with this program,” McCrone said.
Established to help seniors live safely and independently in their homes, the Fix-It Program performs minor repairs for senior citizens 60 and older and/or their caregivers. In 2016, the program provided services to 392 individual clients across Ocean County and performed 1,366 hours of volunteer work. Eighty percent of the clients are widows living alone.
“The 15 to 20 minutes we spend just chatting with clients … we might be the only person they see all week,” McCrone said, explaining that clients appreciate the visits and spending time chatting.
The Fix-It Program is always seeking volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact McCrone at 732-363-5322 ext. 3234.