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Davenport veteran fixing up home for other homeless vets

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- A Davenport house that sat empty for a decade is now becoming a home for veterans. And one of the men living there is having an important impact on its renovation.

Army veteran Wyatt Earp moved to the Quad Cities three years ago. He didn't have a roof over his head so he sought shelter at the Salvation Army Adult Rehabilitation Center. But earlier this year he started looking for something different.

"I got to the point where I was tired of dorm living and close quarters and started looking at my options," Earp says.

That's when he found the historic yellow house on Grand Avenue, just off Locust Street. CEO of Freedom Home Ministries Sandy Cline has been renovating the house and turning it into a home for veterans.

"So I thought about it and I thought, we need a place for the veterans," she says. "And look at what's happened. We've got a home now. We've got a home for 10 veterans."

But there's still a lot of work to be done. That's where Earp comes in. He reached out to Freedom Home Ministries and moved into his new home in the yellow house the same week the organization lost its maintenance man.

"I said, 'Hey I do carpentry. If there's anything I can do, let me know.' And they let me know," he says.

Earp says the trim in the house used to be covered in layers of paint. He renovated the community area and kitchen, which was just opened to residents a few months ago. He helped fix up some plumbing and heating as well.

"Oh, it was like a miracle!" Cline says. "He's a miracle for Freedom Home Ministries. He's an answer to our prayers."

Earp says the house is a unique place for homeless vets. He says there's more privacy than at a shelter and it helps develop independence.

"It makes a difference to have your own space in life," he explains. "A place where you feel at home... I can work all night on this building if I want to, and that's my job. And when I'm done, I go home."

Earp and Cline say the house is a place veterans can get back on their feet and move forward in life. As for Earp, there's one thing he's looking forward to.

"What's next for me, I have two more apartments up here to remodel," he says.

He wants to stay on as Freedom Home Ministries' handy-man, helping veterans rebuild their lives by rebuilding the yellow house. Once those last two rooms are fixed, ten vets in total can live in the house. Right now, seven live there.

Cline says she's already dreaming of more veterans homes. She says there's a house on East Locust Street she wants to obtain and renovate, turning it into a home for paraplegic veterans.

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