Houses become home for once-homeless veterans

Image 1 of 3

A retired soldier is helping her homeless brothers and sisters get back on their feet. Her caring service for her comrades is what's right with Tampa Bay.

After years in prison for drug-related offenses, Ramon Gonzales is thankful for a place to call home.

"I had nowhere to live. I was living in my car at the time," Gonzales said.

Now, the former Army veteran lives at Heaven on Earth for Veterans. It's a place providing low-cost, fully furnished homes for vets.

"It's just been a turn-around in my life now because, three months ago, I was at the verge of killing myself," said Romon. "But now I am moving forward because they have given me hope."

Retired Lt. Col. Carol Barkalow and her partner started the organization back in 2012.

"This was started by two people. Two of us. We now have nine homes and a lot on the south side where we can help, truly help people who need help," Barkalow said.

In seven years, more than 150 veterans have called the houses at Heaven on Earth for Veterans home.

"There are a lot of veterans who need help and our goal is to give them a safe place to kind of get their lives back together and hopefully move on," said volunteer Jim Fitton.

Barkalow hopes her actions spur others to help out in their communities.

"We have so many great people who just need to be given a chance and it doesn't take a lot," she said.

Meanwhile, Gonzales is attending St. Pete College to become a social worker.

"Whatever is happening in our lives doesn't mean that that is the end of the story. I am going to continue to move forward because of the blessing that I got right here,' Gonzales said.

For more information about how Heaven on Earth for Veterans is providing hope for those who served in our military, visit