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Greenwich Cops Team With Ex-Cons to Fix Home

GREENWICH, Conn. – Two Greenwich police officers traveled with members of a Greenwich church to West Virginia to work alongside recovering addicts, many of them ex-convicts, to fix up the home of a family who needed a bit of help.

“It was an interesting mix,” said Michael O’Connor, who, along with Patrol Officer Robert Smurlo, used vacation time to go to Philippi, W. Va. They went with members of Greenwich’s Stanwich Church through World Vision , a Christian humanitarian organization. The group works in urban and rural areas of the United States to provide poverty relief services.

The church teamed with men from Pivot Ministries , a Norwalk-based 16-month Christian recovery program for men and women with drug and alcohol addictions. “Because of their addictions, they immerse these guys in Christianity, but there’s still a 50 percent failure rate. Some of them have milelong rap sheets. The guys we were with … they’re trying to change.”

O’Connor knew what to expect in the trip. His wife MaryAnn has gone the past two years and will be returning again in July with their three sons. “Sometimes when you go down there, families are not as receptive,” he said. "The woman we were with fed us a spread everyday and invited us to come down and stay anytime.”

The men were there to help Alice and Glen Corder, whose home was in disrepair after a storm ripped off the vinyl siding. Glen, who once worked in construction, now uses a wheelchair. “We buttoned it up and made it more presentable,” said O’Connor, who has had experience in construction and putting up siding.

As a finishing touch, the officers and men from Pivot Ministries installed a ceiling fan on the porch above a swinging chair Glen enjoys using so that he would have a breeze on hot days. “He didn’t know it was coming,” O’Connor said. “I didn’t do it for myself, obviously, but it gives you a good feeling. I’ll go next year, if not sooner.”

O’Connor says he and Smurlo are looking for a way to bring the work home to Greenwich. He hopes to get more officers involved to identify needy families in the area whose homes could use an overhaul.

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