US widower and veteran fights grief and PTSD by offering home repairs – for free | Mississippi

A retired US military veteran is coping with grief from his wife’s death and post-traumatic stress from fighting in the Vietnam war by providing daily handyman services to people in his community – for free.

Danny Chauvin is the so-called “honey-do dude” of Waveland, Mississippi, according to a CBS Evening News profile of him published Friday. He told the news program that one of his favorite parts of his marriage to his wife had been the small, mostly repair and building tasks she would ask him to complete around the house, which Americans colloquially refer to as “honey-do” jobs.

Chauvin, 76, lost that part of his life when his wife of 53 years, Patricia, died in November 2022 after being sick with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other health issues, Mississippi’s Sun Herald newspaper reported. In the subsequent quiet of his home, Chauvin realized he was not only struggling with his grief as a widower, he also was struggling to manage the depression and post-traumatic stress he had been treated for after serving with the US army in Vietnam.

“That’s when stuff comes back to you,” Chauvin remarked to CBS.

So he resolved to protect his mental health by staying busy. He went to a Facebook group dedicated to people who frequent his region of Mississippi, posted a picture of himself and attached a caption that read: “Any single woman needing honey do job they can’t do them selves I am willing to see if I can do it for you FREE because I lost my wife of 53 years and I am trying to stay busy by helping others !!!”

Chauvin said to CBS: “And it spread. It spread like wildfire.”

Since then, Chauvin has been doing things like putting up a shower, hanging up a porch swing and fixing a closet door – mostly for single or widowed women – who are in need of help and find his contact information.

CBS reported that many of Chauvin’s customers don’t know anyone else who could perform the types of small but skilled tasks he has taken on for them.

Other jobs have seen Chauvin hook up a garbage disposal, put up lighting and ceiling fans, erect a trellis display, unclog plumbing drains and install a faucet. He learned the skills for such work during a 44-year career at Laperouse Roofing & Sheet Metal in Houma, Louisiana, where he and his wife raised eight children before retiring to Waveland, the Sun Herald wrote.

Sometimes he completes four jobs a day, and he doesn’t charge a cent to those who retain his services. All he seeks in return is a picture of those whom he helped, tokens which are meant to remind him that is not alone, according to CBS’s profile.

“He showed much kindness to people,” one of Chauvin’s customers said to CBS.

Chauvin said he has seen his symptoms of grief and post-traumatic stress ease since assuming his identity as the honey-do dude.

As Chauvin worded it to CBS: “Right now, I’ve got a lot of friends.”