JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Charles Roundtree, 94, a retired educator and World War Two veteran, returns to his burned-out home almost every day.
"I come over here to sit in the backyard and hope," he said. "Hope and wish."
He has lived in his home since 1961. It is where he raised his family on a teacher's salary.
"I taught 32 years," he said. "The last 26 at Stanton High."
He said it is where he wants to spend the rest of his days.
"I'll be 95 in October, I was born in '24," said Roundtree." I'd love to get back in my home."
In 2016, a grease fire in the kitchen damaged his cinder block home. The roof has a hole in it and has to be replaced; the floor and some interior walls are also damaged.
Roundtree said a disagreement over the terms and conditions resulted in his insurance being canceled.
Since the fire, he's been living with his daughter temporarily while looking for a way to save his home.
This week at Metro Diner, On Your Side met Sye and Silas Austin.
"We have pulled permits,' said Silas Austin.
The two retired correctional officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office operate TubRail Vocational Services, a non-profit; they have made it their mission to get Roundtree back into his home.
Recently, they created a video to generate interest with the focus being his service during World War II and his service in the classroom.
"Everything has been approved by the city, so we are now at the donation phase," said Silas Austin.
The city had planned to demolish the house, but they appealed to save it.
The non-profit has secured a contractor and presented the building plans, but it needs the funds.
"We are doing what we can," said Austin, "We are donating to his cause but he needs help. I believe a lot of his students would love to help him."
Austin said the budget is approximately $60,000. It covers a new roof, new plumbing, new electrical -- all that is needed to bring the structure up to the current building code.
"We are close to $10,000, and we have some vendors willing to give," he said.
Roundtree said life has not been the same for him since the fire. He wants to be in his home.
"It is just like you are lost," he said. "Misplaced."
If you would like to help contact TubRail Vocational Services, Inc., call 904-696-0928.