Unity House Founder, Dennis Haut, Receives 5th Jefferson Awards Nomination

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While they don't look like much on the outside, incredible things are happening on the side of seven houses in Davenport.

"We get to see miracles happen," explained Dennis Haut. "We get to see people change right before our eyes."

The man behind those miracles is Dennis. In 2004, he opened the very first Unity House, which are transitional homes for people recovering from addictions.

"It used to be an old crack house and it was ready for the wrecking ball and what a perfect thing to do to turn a place that was like that into a place where people could get help."

10 years later, there are seven Unity Houses and some required a lot more work than others.

"It was a lot of work, a lot of work," Haut said while sitting in the family room of House #4. "In this very room, I sat on top of a pile of rubble that was probably four-foot high and I just shook my head and said this is impossible. I was ready to give up."

However, the more he gave, the more Dennis got. In a decade, Unity House has helped between 2,000 and 3,000 people... including Dennis himself.

"I can empathize, not sympathize because we don't need sympathy when we're in recovery. I know how they felt because I have been there."

"It was such a relief as a counselor to know that I could send a client to Unity House and they would actually get what they needed and not just be out on their own trying to do recovery on their own," said Jamie McWade.

Jamie was working somewhere else when she first heard about Unity House. Now, she's part of it and sees firsthand what Dennis does every day.

"Dennis does what he does with no pay. For 10 years, he has not received a salary. I am not exaggerating that he can spend 17 hours a day working for Unity House."

It's why Jamie nominated Dennis for the Jefferson Award, on behalf of WQAD and Genesis Health System. It's recognition for someone who has never asked for it.

"I'm just blown away," said Dennis. "What an honor and a privilege."

"If it was about recognition, I would have gotten out of this a long time ago."

"Unity House would not be without his push and his passion," added Jamie.

"I know what it's like to feel just broken inside - a big hole, what do you feel that with, what do you do, where do you go, who will listen, does anybody understand or is there anybody else out there just like me?" explained Dennis. "We listen. We care. Unity House - all of us together."

WQAD will be introducing you to a new Jefferson Award nominee every month. Then, in Spring 2015, we'll choose just one to represent our area at the National Jefferson Awards Ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The Jefferson Awards are the country’s longest standing and most prestigious celebration of public service. Past winners include Chad Pregracke, Walter Cronkite, Steve Jobs, Paul Newman, and Michael Bloomberg.

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