Advertisement
  1. News

Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay takes on a mission to repair veterans' homes

Vietnam War veteran Larry King, center, chats with Rebuilding Together’s Jose Garcia, left, and volunteer Greg Rivera.
Published May 17, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG

Larry King probably could have saved a lot of money by letting his roof continue to leak.

One week after he had it fixed, about two months ago, a nonprofit called Rebuilding Together Tampa Bay told him it wanted to renovate his house as part of an initiative to refurbish 55 veterans' homes this year on both sides of the bay.

"If I had known, I probably would have waited and saved me some money," the Vietnam War veteran and Purple Heart recipient joked in his driveway with volunteers buzzing around him.

On Saturday, Rebuilding Together worked on the first eight of those 55 homes, six in St. Petersburg and two in Tampa.

Five of the homes needed serious repairs. Rebuilding Together was overseeing the construction at no cost to the home owners. Instead, the work was funded by public and private grants totaling $1 million, executive director Jose Garcia said.

Rebuilding Together already finished the major construction at King's home, which included replacing his water-damaged ceiling and probably would have included shingling his roof, had it not already been done. Volunteers from consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton were putting the finishing touches on the project by painting and landscaping. Pepsi Bottling Co. volunteers were at two other St. Petersburg homes doing much the same thing.

"He needs a lot of support," Garcia said. "He didn't realize how bad the house was."

The work will total about $6,000, Garcia said.

"For us, helping Mr. King is a very rewarding experience," said Greg Rivera, a Booz Allen associate who is also in charge of community partnerships in the Tampa Bay area. "It's something we take a lot of pride in."

King, 67, entered the Navy in 1967 and was soon transferred to the Marines, where he served in Vietnam as a corpsman, essentially a combat medic, King said. In 1969, his truck drove over an explosive, wounding five of the seven men inside, he said.

The native New Yorker lost his right eye and left leg in the explosion and was in a coma for two months. After the injury, King was honorably discharged. He moved to St. Petersburg in 1977 and into his current home in 1994.

These days, King spends his time helping other veterans as an officer in a Disabled American Veterans chapter. This time, he ended up on the receiving end of someone else's kindness.

"It's just fantastic, I don't know what else to say," he said."

King said many veterans groups tend to devote many of their resources to helping those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Vietnam veterans tend to get overlooked, he said.

"These guys are picking up the slack, at least in this area," he said.

King said he's grateful for the support, and doesn't really know how to thank Rebuilding Together or the volunteers.

"They really couldn't get enough praise," he said. "But I'm sure that's not why they're doing it."

Contact Josh Solomon at jsolomon@tampabay.com. Follow @josh_solomon15

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Representatives from the Pasco County school district and the United School Employees of Pasco discuss salary and benefits during negotiations on Sept. 18, 2019. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff Writer
    The proposal is short on details, with officials saying they want to work through specifics during negotiations.
  2. A still image from a 2014 video of Granville Ritchie's interrogation with Temple Terrace detectives the day after 9-year-old Felecia Williams vanished. He is now on trial for her murder. JAMAL THALJI  |  [Photo courtesy of WTVT-Ch. 13]
    Jurors watched his interrogation the day after Felecia Williams was last seen in 2014. “This situation is very complicated for me,” he told police.
  3. Tampa investor and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jeff Vinik, right, speaks about his investments in the video game industry at the eSports Summit Wednesday in Tampa as Matt Samost, Vice President of New Ventures for Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment looks on. LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A summit at USF brought together major players and explored the possibility of an esports arena.
  4. Lynn Cristina is a Wesley Chapel momma with two girls and works full time as a marketing manager. Courtesy of Lynn Cristina
    My husband and I usually divide and conquer on the parenting front — and I was a man down.
  5. Falo Kane, 32, of Clearwater, now faces four counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person and a violation of probation charge, according to police. [CLEARWATER POLICE DEPARTMENT]  |  Clearwater Police Department
    Falo Kane now faces a total of seven counts of sexual battery of a physically helpless person.
  6. Female driver texting on mobile phone while driving. STAR TRIBUNE  |  baona/Star Tribune/TNS
    Police are choosing to issue warnings instead of tickets — so far.
  7. 7-Eleven Inc. is opening its first location in a Brandon mall. Pictured is a location in Port Richey in 2018. | [Times (2018) TYLISA JOHNSON | TIMES  |  TyLisa Johnson | Times
    It is the first of eight mall locations opening this year.
  8. Pedro Davila, 27, was arrested in Pasco County three weeks after he robbed a New York City jewelry store, authorities said. Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
    Pedro Davila was taken into custody on a rural stretch of roadway, three weeks after he and two others held up a store, authorities said.
  9. The State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville announced Wednesday that Donald Hugh Davidson Jr. had waived his right to a jury trial after pleading guilty. Photo from video/News4JAX
    Prosecutors said Davidson entered Roseann Welsh’s Middleburg home and strangled and stabbed her.
  10. Hurricane Dorian evacuees wait for family and friends to arrive after evacuating on the Grand Celebration cruise ship from Freeport, a city in the Grand Bahamas on Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019 in Riviera Beach. The cruise ship transported hundreds of evacuees seeking passage from Freeport after the damaged caused by Hurricane Dorian. BRYNN ANDERSON  |  AP
    The Bahamians who arrived Wednesday from Freeport say they will temporarily stay with relatives or friends before traveling back.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement