FD employees gift recliner to man with mobility challenges
Staff at the Gloucester Fire Department contributed their own money to pay for the recliner to help Jim Milone get up to his walker more easily
Taylor Ann Bradford
Gloucester Daily Times, Mass.
GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Having worked in health care in the past, Jim Milone knew that the Gloucester Fire Department would help him in his time of need.
But the events that unfolded this past Wednesday proved to Milone — a former CNA home health aide — that he couldn’t anticipate the extent of the firefighters' generosity.
“I was touched by what they did,” said Milone, sitting in a new recliner that Fire Department members had presented to him just days earlier.
For years, Milone has suffered from arthritis, a bad knee and hip, and overall tight limbs that limit his mobility and require him to have a walker to move around.
“My body has been through hell,” he said. “My mobility is not that good.”
When his old recliner died more than two months ago, Milone struggled to get up out of his low-standing couch to his walker.
“For the first times, I pushed myself up, struggling over the door frame and I got myself up. But I tear everything up, you know,” Milone explained. “I was afraid I was going to hurt myself.”
Milone eventually called the Fire Department for assistance, a cry for help that was answered immediately.
“It is a humiliating thing when you can’t get yourself out of a chair,” said Milone, who was born and raised in Riverdale, ran the Boston Marathon, and traveled the world in his youth.
But never once, Milone emphasized, did the men and women who assisted him almost daily in his home at McPherson Park complain or become frustrated.
“They came every day for two and half months to pick me up out of the chair. They never complained and they treated me with respect and dignity,” Milone said. “They didn’t just pick me up and leave. They would talk and we became friends.”
Because businesses were closed or running low on inventory due to the impact of COVID-19, Milone had a hard time ordering a new recliner that would enable him to get up and down on his own.
“I couldn’t order another chair because everything was closed down,” he said.
But when he called the Fire Department this Wednesday to help him out of his chair, what he got was so much more.
“They told me that they had a surprise for me,” he said with tears in his eyes. “They brought this.”
The Gloucester resident motioned to the soft brown recliner he was sitting in, playing with the remote that moved the foot rest up and down.
"It was a couple of guys that wanted to do some good," EMS Coordinator Jonathan Sanger told a Times reporter Thursday. "(Milone) is a real nice guy."
He added that there was no city or departmental funding involved in the gift, as it was done on Milone's behalf by individual Fire Department employees using their own money.
Sanger explained that while it is not possible to get a chair for everyone in the city, firefighters "enjoy doing it" when they can.
“The Fire Department, they are my heroes,” Milone said. “What they did, I never expected that.”
©2020 the Gloucester Daily Times (Gloucester, Mass.)