HomeFront team helps out Tower Street veteran


About 2,000 volunteers around the state rolled up their sleeves to celebrate HomeFront Day's 30th anniversary Saturday. More than 50 of those were on Tower Street in Milford, revamping the outside of John McCarthy’s house.

McCarthy is a veteran of the Korean War. On Saturday he stood in front of his house and said he couldn’t believe all the people who were there making his house look like new again.

McCarthy said he received information about the HomeFront program at the senior center and submitted his name. Still he was surprised when he got a call saying a crew would be out to work on his house.

He pointed toward the sky, and said he thinks his late wife had something to do with his good luck.

McCarthy has lived in the Cape Cod-style home in Milford since 1963. He used to be able to get out and scrape and paint the house, but now it’s not so easy climbing a ladder. So the outside started to need some attention.

A team from St. Raphael’s Parish of Milford, which is the combined churches of St. Gabriel and St. Ann, were the HomeFront team that answered his call.

John Marmolejo, team leader, said the team would be scraping paint, replacing a gutter board, painting and doing other tasks outside.

A contractor by profession, Marmolejo has been doing these HomeFront projects for years, as have many of the other volunteers there with him Saturday.

“It’s great to give back to society,” he said. “One way is to contribute your talent. People should be willing to help their fellow citizens.”

Marmolejo knows that it can be costly to maintain a house, and the regular maintenance and repair work can be physically demanding. Senior citizens often fall behind on maintenance as their bodies age and they start living on fixed incomes.

And that’s where HomeFront comes in.

“These free repairs enable older adults living on fixed incomes, disabled homeowners, single-parent households, and families in transitional crisis to remain in their homes with a much

improved quality of life,” said Sean O’Brien of HomeFront.

Community and corporate foundations, individual donors and contributors of materials and services set this massive outpouring in motion.

Since the first 12 Norwalk homes spruced up by HomeFront volunteers in 1988, the program has touched more than 3,100 families in need.

Lisa Hilsenrath, a HomeFront representative who was on Tower Street Saturday, said the Home Depot Foundation provided a grant this year that made it possible to tackle large-scale repair projects for 10 low-income veterans, including McCarthy.

Resident Connie Jagodzinski worked with the crew on Tower Street, and when all was said and done she said the house looked great.

“By 5 p.m., the volunteers from St. Ann's and St. Gabriel's made the house look new,” Jagodzinski said. “The shutters had been repainted and rehung. The gutters and drains were cleaned and properly hung. And the house and deck had been scraped and repainted. The homeowner was so overwhelmed and happy. So were we. My blisters from scraping shingles are a badge of honor.”