Neighbors come together to help veteran keep house

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Neighbors in the Springfield area joined together to help one of their own Saturday.

John Foster, 87, is a Korean War veteran who lives on Market Street with his daughter, Doris, 53. In April, their worlds were turned upside down when they faced the possibility of losing their home.

"We worried quite a bit. We worried every day about what we were going to do," Foster said.

The City of Jacksonville sent the pair a letter instructing them to fix up their house or pay $250 a day in code enforcement fines.

Foster said the exterior of the two-story house seemed to be the biggest issue. "They wanted the woodwork repaired."

The problem was Foster and his daughter couldn't afford to pay the fines or do the work themselves. Foster requires a lot of assistance from his daughter to get around without falling.

"If I was to climb a ladder, that knee would give out all together," he said.

The two were so afraid of what was going to happen, they put a 'for sale' sign in their yard as a last resort. They figured their best bet was to move out of the place they called home for 41 years.

However, Derek Smith, wanted Foster to stay in the century-old house. Smith is also a veteran.

"From one veteran to another I am not doing this for any other reason but that he's a veteran and I wanted him to know that he's not forgotten," said Smith.

Foster said, "We had no place to go. You can't rent a place cheap enough."

Little did they know the sign caught the neighbors' attention. "We went over there and talked to him," said Gloria DeVall with Preservation SOS.

DeVall told First Coast News that Foster's situation inspired her and others to do something. They selected him for the non-profit's "Make It Happen" project this year.

"It was heartbreaking all the way around because you knew he was an independent man who had taken care of tings up until recently," she said.

The neighbors organized on Facebook and collected more than $1,000 in donations and supplies. The group power washed and repainted the Fosters' home beginning Saturday afternoon.

DeVall said they would work every Saturday until it was all done.

"If you do what you can do, then other people do what they can do. It just happens very easily," she said.

The Fosters could not be happier for the assistance. They hope it pleases the city so they can stay in their home.

"We'll stay 41 more years if we can," he said.

"One veteran to another I am not doing this for any other reason but that he's a veteran and I wanted him to know that he's not forgotten,"

And Foster is hopeful he'll be able to sit and watch the neighborhood.

A neighborhood that's given him the ultimate gift this Memorial Day weekend, the gift of a happy and safe home.

"I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. I want to stay here the rest of my life," Foster said.


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