Assistant Police Chief John Morris assembled a SWAT Team at 6:30 a.m. this morning at the Roeland Park residence of an 83-year-old veteran. And then the team went to work fixing it up so the homeowner can continue to live there.
“Really amazed” (and grateful) was how homeowner Dennis Bell described his feelings for what Morris put together. “Look at how fast they have done this. I have a different opinion of Roeland Park now.” Bell has lived in the house for more than 40 years, but in recent years the maintenance had gotten away from him.
Morris entered the picture a couple of weeks ago when Bell had problems over some code violations at the house. Morris ran into Bell at city hall and they talked. “He appeared to be at a loss,” Morris said. Health problems and limited funds had put Bell in a tough position.
“This is ridiculous, who is going to help him,” Morris asked. From there Morris, who will become Roeland Park Police Chief in December, took it upon himself to get Bell, whom he and the group call ‘Pops’, the help he needed. Morris started contacting friends. “It just spiraled. I couldn’t do this without friends.”
By the time the crew showed up this morning, Morris and friends had assembled an astounding collection of donations and labor. They included off duty police officers from Roeland Park, Westwood, Lake Quivira and Randolph, MO to work on the house; Deb’s Disposal Service to provide a dumpster; Overhead Door of Kansas City to donate a new garage door; Arboles Tree Service to trim out trees; Mission Lawns to take care of the yard; Benfers Enterprises to tow a non working vehicle and store it and other items from the house; Lowes for construction material; Walmart to feed the workers. Roeland Park City Administrator Aaron Otto also was on hand.
The group cleaned out a cluttered garage space and was replacing wood rot around the exterior including the front porch.
“We can’t do everything, but we can do something. Let’s help each other,” Morris said. “Sometimes it’s better to help people (rather than penalize them).”
With the repairs the group made today, Bell said he intends to stay in the house now. “A nursing home would be the end of me.” He lost wife a few years ago. Bell was in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1950 to 1954 and served in Korea. He was in the heating and cooling business.
“I never dreamed of this,” he said.