By MADDY VITALE
Ocean City firefighters are helping one of their own with home repairs and even the installation of a new roof.
Jimmy Leone, 69, who retired from the Ocean City Fire Department in 2005, lives at 1400 Atkinson Ave. in Somers Point.
When fellow firefighters found out he was not doing well physically and couldn’t do repairs on his home, they entered a contest that would give Leone, and his wife, Constance, a new roof to their 1950 home.
Four local families, including a firefighter who worked with Leone throughout his career, nominated the Leone home for “Roof on Wings,” a promotion through Surf & Turf Roofing in Egg Harbor Township.
The Leone home won, and on Thursday morning work crews were steadily chipping off the old roof. The roof work is expected to be completed this week.
(Video courtesy of Just Right TV Productions)
Ocean City firefighters Bob Bender, George Karpinski and Wyatt Clevenger watched as their former colleague’s home was rehabbed.
“We had some people say Jimmy wasn’t doing well,” Bender said as workers scooped the shingles, old insulation and debris off the home. “So just being a brother in the firehouse, we wanted to see what we could do.”
The home repairs began last Friday, July 19, when more than 10 firefighters went to Leone’s home to clean up the yard, clear brush and vines off the property and landscape.
The firefighters also plan to be back to do any other sprucing up that is needed as well as repairs when the new roof is installed.
“We looked at what we could do, but the roof was beyond our skills,” Bender noted. “We decided to give Roof on Wings a shot. We talked to some neighbors and four families nominated the home for a new roof.”
Guy Salani, whose family owns Surf & Turf Roofing, explained how the promotion works.
The contest began in 2017 and is designed for the business to give back to the community, Salani said.
Like in the Leones’ case, neighbors could nominate a home or friends and family. The winner has a new roof installed at no cost.
Salani said a roof is the first defense for a home against the forces of nature, and any damage could be costly both outside and inside the house.
“It is a very important expense that unfortunately some people just cannot afford,” he said.
On Thursday, Salani chatted with the firefighters as his crews took down the old roof.
“The outpouring of support by the firefighters and families for the Leones has been incredible,” he said.
Retired Ocean City firefighter Gene Leonetti, of Somers Point, worked with James Leone throughout their careers spanning about 22 years.
“When I worked with Jimmy, he was just a great guy and a great firefighter,” Leonetti said. “We were on the same shift for all of the years. He always had your back. He was a hard worker.”
Leonetti continued, “We worked together in so many different jobs. We laughed together. We were family.”
Over the last few months, Leonetti has driven by Leone’s home and noticed it needed repairs.
“When I found out about the contest, Bob Bender put Jimmy’s name in,” Leonetti explained. “The fire department is one big family and we always have each other’s backs.”