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Beverly opens new home for homeless veterans

And despite having training in computers and high-tech communications, he wasn’t having much luck finding a job.

“I can fix anything,” said the North Andover native, as Kelli Doyle nodded enthusiastically. “I’ve got a lot of applications out.”

But it’s been tough even getting online from a hotel. The couple didn’t have a real address to put on those applications.

“And there was a fear,” Ryan admitted, “that we were going to end up in a shelter.”

That was yesterday. Today the Doyles’ address is 45 Broadway, Beverly, and they are decidedly upbeat, sharing an airy, high-ceilinged room with a private bathroom in a large Victorian home. Down the hall is a common kitchen and a laundry. There’s a garden in the backyard.

“I love it,” said Kelli Doyle as they enjoyed a quiet meal by three tall windows, the laptop on the table between them. “It’s nice to have a place where we can be together. And we like Beverly.”

The Doyles had to get special permission to move in as a couple, but they were there June 26 as the North Shore Veterans Counseling Services formally opened a new Broadway location for homeless veterans. It’s meant to provide housing for up to 13 people, said executive director Lynn Pellino. Before the cover came off the new sign, 11 people had already moved in.

Many are Vietnam veterans who pay $700 a month. A lot of that can be subsidized by various state and federal programs, Pellino said.

“We cater strictly to veterans, she said.

Firm rules — no drugs and no alcohol — keep out some.

“A lot of people don’t want to give them up,” she said.

“She’s a great landlord,” said resident Tom Anderson, a Vietnam veteran. “She’s tough, but she’s good.”

On June 26, residents, officers of the North Shore Veterans Counseling Services and representatives from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the city, the state and organizations including Salem State University gathered on the wide porch to observe the opening of the new home. Counseling Services board member Victor Capozzi outlined the history of the project, explaining how his group swapped housing above the former Press Box on Park Street for this place, moving just across Rantoul Street to do it.

Capozzi called it “horse trading” with developer Lee Dellicker, president of Windover Construction, which has plans for a new building with apartments and shops at the veterans services group’s former Park Street location.

For his part, Clarke cited the impact of Gold Star mom the late Christine McDonald, who became immersed in veterans issues locally.

Her son, Donald Contarino, a helicopter pilot, was killed in Vietnam on Aug. 14, 1969, during a rocket attack.

“He was my best friend,” Clarke said.

Massachusetts secretary for veterans affairs, U. S. Marine veteran Coleman Nee, noted that American involvement in the Vietnam War began half a century ago.

He lamented the ill treatment a lot of those returning warriors received in years past and declared, “It may be 50 years late, but thank you so much for your service. ... People that serve the country in uniform have earned benefits that others have not.”

Capozzi estimated the cost of renovations at $210,000. Among those chipping in to help were Home Depot and Beverly Cooperative Bank.

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