EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

August 21, 2013

Air Force volunteers pitch in to renovate home for vets

NORTH ANDOVER — Airman Corey Nadeau could have spent yesterday at the beach or doing something else fun.

Instead, Nadeau, 19, who enlisted in the Air Force on Feb. 26 and recently completed his basic training, joined a dozen or so other airmen and volunteered several hours cleaning up the interior of 138 High St.

The house is being transformed into a three-family home for veterans and their families.

Many of the volunteers work in the recruiting department at Hanscom Air Force Base. Nadeau will soon report to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio to receive his first assignment as an airman.

“I thought it was a good cause, and I’m helping out my Air Force family,” Nadeau, of Lowell, said.

He and other volunteers worked without pay for several hours, lugging loads of old Sheetrock and other construction debris from the house to be dumped into a trash bin.

Veterans Services Officer Ed Mitchell said 14 local veterans and their families need housing. John Ratka, executive director of the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, which recently purchased 138 High St. and will administer the property, said he hopes former members of the Armed Forces will be able to move into the house by Christmas.

He conceded that may be difficult.

The house, which had been foreclosed upon before the veterans group bought it, has two apartments. Plans call for adding a third apartment to the left side of the building, as viewed from the street.

Ratka said the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center, based in Haverhill, is grateful for the support the project received from neighbors. He noted that some of them attended the Aug. 13 meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals, which granted a special permit for the project.

“It’s important for us to be a good community member,” he told the volunteers yesterday.

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