Richard Overton, the oldest living World War II veteran, is moving out his home temporarily so it can be made more accessible for him.
Before heading to a hotel while the work is done on his home along Richard Overton Avenue, he sat on his porch like he does every day.
"I sit here and wave at them, and they wave at me," said Overton.
"The front porch is his stage and that's where he loves out of all the parts of the house,” said Martin Wilford, Overton’s friend of almost 40 years.
Under his 111th birthday sign, Overton told KVUE how much he loves his neighborhood
"Got good neighborhoods, they like me, and I like that we have each other,” said Overton.
He built the home in the late 1940s, after returning home from serving in World War II, and he's lived there for 70 years.
While he's at a hotel, the Meals on Wheels Central Texas Home Repair team will be renovating the home for the first time, making it more accessible for Overton.
"Mr. Overton's probably our oldest client,” said Adam Hauser, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels Central Texas.
Hauser said they do these type of upgrades, so that older individuals can stay living in their homes, on their own.
"The whole idea behind it is simple, there are many older adults who want to stay in their home, that's where they feel the safest and most comfortable but their homes are in disrepair, and so we want to be able to come in and do repairs,” said Hauser. “Make the home safer, make it more accessible, make it a more healthy environment for them to live the remainder of their life, in the place that they’re most comfortable, so that's really the mission is to provide this service so our older adult neighbors in Central Texas can continue to live in their homes independently."
The work is part of their partnership with the Home Depot Foundation to repair homes for veterans around the country.
"We have been able to repair a lot of veterans homes in the Central Texas area because of that relationship,” said Hauser.
Hauser said they currently have 39 other similar home projects going on in the Austin area for veterans. According to Hauser, they work on both small and large renovation projects. The large ones ranging between $20,000 and $50,000.
"Many people know us for our signature meal delivery program, but several years ago we adopted a more holistic approach to our services, and one of the addition services we're offering is home repair," said Hauser.
Since 2012, he said they’ve repaired 194 homes, totaling upgrades of $2.1 million. Repairs that will allow adults like Mr. Overton to continue living on their own.
At Overton’s home, crews are renovating Overton's bathroom, making it more accessible. They’re replacing original wiring from the 1940s, widening doorways, replacing carpet with laminated floors to prevent tripping, and for the first time, installing central heating and air conditioning.
"I feel good, I'm really surprised, that’s something I've never had done in my life, of course I've been around a lot of people, haven't had this kind of work done, yeah, I'm glad to get it done,” said Overton.
But he jokingly seems unimpressed.
"I've seen many bathrooms go up, I’ve seen everything go up," said Overton.
He even talked about wanting to get to work.
"I wish I could go to work, but I can't make it, I can get up and walk, talk, see, but I can't work," said Overton. "Any kind of work they'd give me, I've done all kinds of work."
"I think it’s the best thing for this house to be renovated to bring it back up to code,” said Wilford. "It’s all a blessing to see the oldest vet get caught up on things that he needs, it’s a necessity.”
A necessary project, that Overton hopes goes by quickly so he can get back to his porch.
"I don't know I wish they would do it in one hour, but they can't do it,” said Overton. "Be glad when it starts, be glad when it gets through, that's two glads.”
But who knows, now that he'll have air conditioning, he may spend a bit more time inside his historic home.
Work on Overton's home is expected to take two weeks.
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