Jim Croasmun is a very familiar face at Soldier On, and frequently can be seen in the med room window in Building 6 handing out pills to residents.
It is a job he has held as a resident staff for the past nine years, indicating he is quite reliable at handing out the right meds in the proper dosage to the right person. It was a job handed to him just a few months after he arrived at Soldier On in January 2006, when the agency was called the United Veterans of America.
Jim attributes his longevity at Soldier On to having a job he likes and the sense of contentment he has attained while residing here.
A native of Erie, PA, where he lived the first 23 years of his life (he is now 60) before moving to Florida, working in construction and maintenance jobs. It was on September 25, 2004 that his life changed.
On that day, Hurricane Jeanne, the deadliest hurricane of the 2004 Atlantic hurricane season, blew into Palm Bay, FL, where Jim had his house. Housesitting for a friend at the time, Jim says that when he came home, “there was just a pile of rubble, the whole neighborhood was gone.”
Jim moved to Melbourne to stay with a friend, who eventually decided to sell his house, giving Jim a two-week notice. His next move was to Chesterfield, MA, where his friend had become acquainted with some friends on the internet. That didn’t last long, and those friends referred Jim to a shelter on Center Street in Northampton.
“I remember waiting four hours in the cold for the shelter to open at 6 a.m.,” Jim says.
The shelter required everyone to leave at 6 a.m. and return at 6 p.m. He found a job shoveling snow for $14 an hour, but it was a mild winter and it snowed infrequently. When the shelter experienced an overflow, Jim ended up at another shelter in Easthampton. Jim was not there long because he ran into Willie Ledbetter, the outreach coordinator for the UVA, who determined Jim was eligible to reside there.
At the time, case managers handed out meds. But Jim was a good candidate for the job because, as a rule, he doesn’t use drugs or imbibe alcohol.
“I don’t take pills, I don’t like drinking, but I do smoke cigarettes and coffee is my choice of drug,” Jim says.
Jim was approved for the job by the Life Team, started training as a resident staff on April 17, 2006 and officially started on April 23.
He’s been here ever since, and looks forward to his duties as a resident staff at Soldier On.
“I enjoy helping people,” he says.