Ailing veteran overwhelmed by outpouring of support - KCTV5

Ailing veteran overwhelmed by outpouring of support

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ROELAND PARK, KS (KCTV) -

An elderly veteran needed a helping hand, and he got it in a big way from a Roeland Park deputy police chief and his fellow men and women in blue.

Dennis Bell, 83, had code violations at his home dating back to last winter, and the ailing man was struggling to handle the situation. Roeland Park Deputy Police Chief John Morris happened to learn of Bell's plight and brought together a group of people to improve Bell's home on Thursday.

"It's really hard to express how I really feel," Bell said. "They are changing my life. I want to come home now. It's really kind of amazing."

Bell has lived a life filled with ups and downs. He joined the Marine Corps 63 years ago, and is a veteran of the Korean War. He and his wife lived in their Roeland Park home for 50-plus years. He owned a heating and cooling business and his wife did the books. His wife died about five years ago, leaving him alone in a house he struggled to maintain on an income of less than $1,000 a month.

He also has health issues and was recently hospitalized. His children are dead. He said he's been unable to work on his house or yard.

Bell has been cited repeatedly for a variety of violations relating to his home. He has trash, debris and tree issues along with rotting wood on his home. Bell was at City Hall dealing with the violations when Morris overheard the conversation that Bell was having with city employees.

"It was clear Bell wasn't utilizing the various resources he was being referred to," Morris said. "So, I went up to him at the court and asked him if he needed help. He said 'yes,' so I reached out to people, and those people reached out to people, and so on and so on."

Bell had his doubts.

"I didn't believe him, but he's done everything he said he was going to do. He's an amazing guy," Bell said.

A company at Morris' behest removed a couple of disabled vehicles. They are being stored free of charge.

Strangers arrived with hammers in hand Thursday morning to start rehabbing Bell's home. Among the army of volunteers were 20 off-duty officers from Westwood and Lake Quivira as well as Roeland Park Councilwoman Becky Fast.

"We got the manager of the local Lowe's to donate materials for repairs. A disposal company (Deb's Disposal) will be providing a dumpster for trash and debris. We have a lawn care, tree service, and overhead door company coming to help," Morris told KCTV5 on Wednesday. "He's lived in his house for more than 50 years. He lost his wife five or six years ago. He has no living relatives, and he needs help. So, I decided to help,"

It's help Bell, whom Morris has nicknamed "pops," desperately needed and is forever grateful for. They plan to return to paint the home.

"That's something you never think would happen, but it sure did. It's really kind of amazing," Bell said.

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