Sometimes you don’t have to move heaven – just a little bit of earth -- to help someone in need.
Retired Washington Township Police Capt. Joe Sacchi spent most of his adult life serving others while on the local force and in the U.S. Navy.
So it was with immense respect and pride that a team of law enforcement officers united with a group of inmates to assist Sacchi, 81, who suffered a stroke several years ago.
It had begun getting more difficult for Carol Sacchi to get her husband in and out of their home as they aged. But Township Police Sgt. Roy Scherer found the answer – as well as a considerable amount of help.
Scherer contacted veteran Bergen County Sheriff's Officer Todd Accomando to ask about Sheriff Anthony Cureton’s “Freedom Accessible Ramp Program,” which uses county jail inmates to build runways for local residents with limited mobility.
Accomando was "inclined" to help.
Having owned and operated his own flooring business while also serving as a Saddle Brook councilman for several years, he was the right man for the job.
After getting the address, Accomando showed up almost immediately to talk with Carol and Joe.
A day after that, he sent Scherer the blueprints for the ramp, along with a lumber list.
“He also took care of the permits,” the sergeant noted.
“After three days of construction, with the help of four inmates, the project was complete,” Scherer said, proudly.
“I stopped by several times over this period and was amazed at how well Officer Accomando and the inmates worked together,” he said.
“Not only should Officer Accomando be commended, but also the inmates who worked with him for the three days,” the sergeant said.
Carol Sacchi wasn’t the only one beaming as her husband worked his way up the new ramp from the driveway to their door.
So were Scherer, Accomando and the inmates.
“We were honored to help Capt. Sacchi, who has given so much to his community not only as a police officer but also as a veteran who served our nation in the Navy,” Cureton said.
Cureton “ramped up” the program once he became sheriff in November 2018. By year’s end, 17 ramps had been completed – up from 10 for all of 2016-2017.
Last year, 18 ramps were completed.
“It is our hope that we can do even more for 2020,” he said.
The ramp program “restores freedom and dignity to residents with limited mobility,” the sheriff said. “It is one of the ways our agency can have an immediate impact and give back to those in need.”
Senior citizens and residents with severe disabilities get priority.
“The labor for ramp measurement, design, and construction is available to any Bergen County resident who provides their own construction materials,” the sheriff said.
To qualify for free or subsidized construction materials, as well, a resident must meet the income requirements of nonprofit agencies that partner with the sheriff’s office, he added.
Those interested can contact the BCSO Community Release Line: (201) 336-3535 or (201) 336-3508 .
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