Dubuque veterans center finds new home - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque veterans center finds new home

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

A Dubuque-area center for veterans will soon have a new home.

The Veterans Freedom Center is a place for all military veterans to come together and find community. This non-profit community center offers a place for veterans to do crafts such as painting and woodworking, as well watch TV and chat.

The center, run entirely through volunteers and donations, will be in a bigger space on December 1, center co-founder Jim Wagner said.

Part of that is due to the center's growing popularity.

"We're up to 30 to 35 to 40 veterans a day now, so we just needed more space and be able to separate the saws and stuff because of the noise and the dust and everything," Wagner said.

The move, however, comes a little earlier than the center's founders anticipated.

An unexpectedly sharp jump in the cost of rent at the end of the one-year lease meant founders didn't have much time to shop around for a new space.

"We just had a one-year contract, because we had no idea if this would go or not," Wagner said.

When he and the center's other founders went to renegotiate the contract and rent, he said, "it got doubled, so we thought, 'We can't afford that.'"

Russell Welp, a US Marine Corps veteran, visits the Veterans Freedom Center a couple of times a week.

"It's just a good place to come and hang out," he said.

He makes use of the free crafts and hangout space the center offers veterans.

"Any veteran from any service from any time in the service can come down and be here and do different projects that they have," he said.

It's exactly for vets such as Welp that the move is necessary, Wagner said.

"The more money we have to spend on rent is taking away from the veterans, and we don't want that to happen," Wagner said.

Wagner said the current rec room used to look like the building's back storage area, which is unfinished and barren, until founders put their hard work and materials into it.

"It was a lot of work, but we're ready to do it again," Wagner said, "and this time, we'll be there a long time."

Until then, vets can still come hang out at the Veterans Freedom Center's current location, at 1897 Washington Street in Dubuque.

The landlord said he was not interested in commenting on this story.

The new space is at 2245 Kerper Boulevard in Dubuque and provides more parking and space to grow. The new location will be about three times larger than the current space, Wagner said. The current location offers only on-street parking.

The Dubuque Fighting Saints' Nov. 4 game is military appreciation night. There will be a camouflage jersey auction, and benefits will go to the Veterans Freedom Center.

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