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Marine-turned-minister matching homeless vets with donated RVs

Marine-turned-minister matching homeless vets with donated RVs

Veterans helping veterans, something Washington Christian Ministry out of Richland says they've been doing since 2013.

The non-profit fixes up donated motorhomes, campers, and other RVs for homeless veterans to live in.

Action News met with a disabled vet who says the program turned his life around.

If you've been respectfully greeted by a camo-clad veteran sitting in front of various Tri-Cities markets, you've seen someone braving the cold and trying to help others like him turn their lives around.

His name is Damon Machado and he says the difference between who he is now and who he was a few months ago is like night and day.

The disabled Desert Storm veteran says he was in a rough place, living out of his truck because PTSD symptoms made living in a small home with six boys too much to bear.

"My dad died in Vietnam," he explained. "My Mom thought I was going to die over there so I kind of blew a gasket."

Machado says everything changed when he met a man wanting to help.

William Sweet, founding minister of Washington Christian Ministry (WCM) and creator of a program that gives struggling vets a place to call their own.

"I can't even describe it, he's like my angel," Machado said. "I'm not sure what God I believe in, but I believe that there is a God, and he's here in Tri-Cities.

Sweet and one or two volunteers repair donated campers, fixing carpentry and mechanical issues so the units aren't just liveable, they're functional.

"All they've got to do is just move in and move it to an RV-park," explained the minister.

Money for repairs comes from cash donations or other items donated and sold to pay for repairs.

Sweet attributes his work to a greater power.

"The Lord put it in my head to do it," he said. "As Marines, as American citizens. We help who we can help, it's just what we do."

He says qualifying vets have to be able to help themselves; it's a hand-up, not a hand-out.

The retired Marine says there's nothing like it.

"I'm a certified scuba diver, and I'm a pilot," he said. "Those feelings have no comparison to when you give a motor home to an appreciative vet."

Machado says that's one of the many reasons he wants to pay it forward.

"The work he does with as little help as he gets," he said. "After what [Sweet] did for my family there's no way I wasn't going to help him out and give back."

Sweet says he'd like to do more, but he needs help finding a garage or hangar to work in year-round.

"I have the veterans and volunteers wanting to work," he said. "But when it's too cold or when it's raining, we can't work on them. We're subject to the weather."

They're also subject to some of the more modern aspects of running a non-profit.

The ministry is looking for help writing grants and building websites.

In the meantime, Machado will keep doing what he can to keep things moving.

Collecting donations, and convincing the occasional skeptic that sometimes the least of us just need a little help.

"I'm not just a volunteer, I'm a recipient," he said. "This guy's for real. This guy is legit."

Minister Sweet tells Action News another motorhome is ready and waiting for someone meeting the program's requirements.

Qualified applicants will provide:

  • Copy of DD214 showing Honorable or General discharge.
  • Valid driver's license.
  • Funds covering fee transferring title into your name.
  • Verification showing ability to support the unit after they become the owner.
    -They're willing to help unemployed vets find work, connecting with Work Source, Labor ready, etc.

Contact Washington Christian Ministry:

  • Minister William Sweet, 63 Cosmic Ln., Richland, WA 99354
  • Phone: 509-438-8974
  • Email: wmrsweet@gmail.com


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