Niagara Gazette — LOCKPORT — SERV Niagara Director Jennifer D'Andrea-Terreri couldn't believe how quickly the volunteers finished work on Tuesday.
A group of about 10 spent a few hours demolishing the interior of a one-family home at 571 Walnut St. D'Andrea-Terreri thought the work would take all day, but shortly after noon, the group had finished for the day.
"I can't believe we're already done," she said.
SERV Niagara and volunteers spent Wednesday renovating the house, in an effort to turn it into the first veteran-exclusive housing site in Niagara County. That work continues today.
Demolition at 571 Walnut St. wasn't the only thing that moved quickly. The same could be said about the creation of SERV itself.
While it accepts donations and distributes them to veterans in need, the main objective of SERV Niagara, which stands for “Supporting, Empowering, Respecting Veterans and their Families," is to find housing options for homeless and disabled veterans. The not-for-profit group formed just a little over a year ago.
The search for veteran housing led SERV to a pair of homes on Walnut Street. The not-for-profit organization took possession of lot 571 in March and is finalizing acquisition of the other, a few doors away, now.
The second house will become permanent housing for homeless veterans and their families. It will be the first of its kind in the area, D'Andrea-Terreri said.
"We want to help the veterans but we also want to help the family," she said.
At 571 Walnut, by June, SERV is aiming to house six or seven veterans who are completing drug rehabilitation. A "house manager" will live there with the veterans, who will be selected after interviews with SERV Niagara officers. Veterans living there will have transportation to Veterans Affairs, supervised visits with family, educational or therapy opportunities and the like.