Volunteers Upgrading Veterans’ Apartments in Johnston

By: Tim Studebaker

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JOHNSTON, R.I. – It’s been a busy day at "Operation Stand Down Rhode Island" in Johnston as Rhode Island veterans get some much needed upgrades to their living spaces.

The program started in 2002 with six apartments for Rhode Island veterans.  Now they have 88 housing units across the state.

OSDRI Director of Communications & Development Dee DeQuattro-Rothermel says, "We also have food pantries, an employment program, and benefits.  So, you name it, we’ve got it.  The program has grown quite a bit."

Bruce Fanning is an Army veteran originally from Wakefield.  He moved to the OSDRI apartments more than three years ago.

Fanning says, "I was living in a shed then, out on a farm for a couple of years.  There was no place in the area that I could rent for an apartment, so it was pretty tough.  I had no running water, no heat.  [I] slept on an army cot in a sleeping bag.  It was tough there for a while."

Now he gets the help he needs, and his apartment will be upgraded as part of this project.

He lives in one of those original six apartments in Johnston.  All six are getting new appliances, flooring, lighting, bathrooms, freshly painted walls, and more.

DeQuattro-Rothermel says, "This is exciting because we haven’t done any major renovations in these units since we actually built them more than 15 years ago."

The Home Depot and its employees are providing the materials and labor as part of their "Celebration of Service."  Citizens Bank and Amgen are also partners on the project.

If you want more information about Operation Stand Down Rhode Island and their veteran assistance programs, you can visit their website here: http://osdri.org/

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