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Weslaco Veteran to Donate Shelter for Homeless Veterans

3 years 2 weeks 6 days ago Thursday, October 05 2017 Oct 5, 2017 October 05, 2017 9:16 AM October 05, 2017 in Health

WESLACO - A five-acre lot is an empty landscape behind a small church. Navy reserve veteran John Johansen saw the grass, space and it became his opportunity.

"I live right down the block and I see this property back here, and one day I stopped and talked to the pastor,” said Johansen.

Johansen was called to active duty at 17 years old. He stays active. 

"I've been helping people all my life. In New Jersey, I headed up a food bank in a town and fed a lot of people,” said Johansen.

This 84-year-old didn't stop there. He offered his personal resume. Johansen said he moved to South Texas and is helping supply food to other churches in the area. 

“It's not difficult to get jobs done. If you put your mind to it,” said Johansen.

He's worked on his plan for three years. Johansen is focused on his blueprint for his next big project: a shelter for homeless veterans. The pastor of the church said two acres can be used to construct the shelter.

"That started me up again. Now we got property we go, ‘We're gonna go!’” said Johansen.

A turn of a key and a door opens with a pastor singing “Come On In.”

The Lighthouse Church Pastor Juan De Los Santos said his property is close to five acres. A post with a yellow rope signals some veterans’ future. 

"We separated two acres that we would like to build a building on there and to house these people,” said De Los Santos.

The former veteran wants to construct 96 bedrooms furnished with a bed and recliner, a dining hall and kitchen.

"Three days a week I'll have people from industry, people from business and clergy each day, and we'll have all the veterans in the dining hall listen to these people tell them all about jobs and how to do it,” said Johansen. 

Johansen explained a veteran can stay at the shelter for 12 months. If veterans find a job, they can help put money into a savings account until they leave. Johansen said this will help them find a permanent home.

He said only funding stands in the way of starting construction.

"I'm used to making sure things get done,” Johansen said. 

The uphill climb isn't going stop his motivation to help shelter his fellow veterans.

Johansen estimates the cost of the project is around $24 million. 

You can contact Mr. Johansen by email at johnjviking@yahoo.com for any donation.

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