Karl Chase is among the many volunteers in the SHARP program who provide free home repair and assistance to senior citizens in Troy.

Karl Chase is among the many volunteers in the SHARP program who provide free home repair and assistance to senior citizens in Troy.

Photo provided by Olivia McLaughlin

Home assistance for seniors program returns to Troy

By: Brendan Losinski | Troy Times | Published November 17, 2021


TROY — The Troy Community Foundation has announced the return of its SHARP program aimed at helping senior citizens in the Troy community with home repairs.

Standing for the Senior Home Assistance Repair Program, SHARP enhances the quality of homeowners’ lives by making their homes safer and by reducing the stress and confusion involved in making home repairs. The labor is free, with the work being done by volunteers who are looking for meaningful opportunities to utilize their experience and skills; homeowners pay for supplies.

“We received an increase of inquiries starting in the summer by residents asking when the program would be offered again. We are happy to announce that we can take requests starting Nov. 1,” said SHARP-Troy Steering Committee Chairperson Jim Cyrulewski. “Residents can call (248) 212-0059 or email sharptroy2007@gmail.com to request service.”

Olivia McLaughlin, the executive director of the Troy Community Foundation, said the program is a collaboration between the foundation and the city of Troy. She added that working with the city means all volunteers are properly vetted, so homeowners can feel safe letting them into their homes.

“The city of Troy lists it as a city program, so they take the applications for the volunteers and … they are vetted and there are background checks done to ensure they can be trusted to go into people’s homes and help them,” she said. “Seniors can call the number or email the program, and they are matched with the volunteers for an evaluation to see what would be needed through the program. The labor is free, but the homeowners pay for any materials needed. The foundation manages the financial side of things as an endowment to fund it.”

Service is provided in seven categories: carpentry; electrical; heating, ventilation and cooling; miscellaneous home repair; painting; plumbing; and yard work.

“The wonderful thing about the program is that the labor is free,” McLaughlin said. “The city wants to provide help for senior citizens. There are a number of things homeowners need help with and don’t know who to reach out for. This is anything from installing smoke detectors to installing wheelchair ramps. We typically do jobs that can be done in a couple of hours.”

Those running the program lauded the quality of the work provided to residents.

“We take pride in the quality of service we provide,” Assessment Coordinators Doug Slattery and Tom Bernard wrote in an email. “This shows in the results of the surveys returned; appreciation for the program again was heartwarming. The results of the surveys returned showed 99% of the homeowners rated the work performed as ‘excellent’ and 1% as ‘very good.’ These results and the homeowners’ testimonials, as well as their donations, speak volumes of the 30 volunteers who have performed the repairs and help administer the program.

The program was put on hold for several months because COVID-19 prevented volunteers from being able to enter the homes of residents with a reasonable degree of safety.

“There was a bump in the schedule because of COVID,” McLaughlin said. “It became difficult and challenging to get people into someone’s home in that environment, but now we are bringing people back out again.”

McLaughlin added that the program also is looking for volunteers who wish to contribute their expertise and time to SHARP.

“We also are always still looking for volunteers, as well. They can email the city at senior@troymi.gov to apply as a volunteer. They also can donate at www.troycf.org,” she said. “Some examples of jobs that the volunteers do include gutter repair, installing grab bars, replacing locks and electrical outlets, or installing light fixtures.”

The program is open to any senior citizen who is a resident of Troy.

“This is available only to Troy residents. You have to be age 60 or older. Anyone in that criteria can apply. The limits on jobs are based on the assessment the volunteers do. They will tell the homeowner if the job is something they or another volunteer can do,” said McLaughlin. “This is all being done by skilled volunteers who are trained and experienced in their field.”