For two decades, Tomas Ramirez helped put a roof over the heads of Gainesville’s homeless.
On Monday, members of the community helped in part to return the favor.
Ramirez, who ran the Good News at Noon shelter on Davis Street for more than 20 years, was surprised with 12 months of mortgage payments and hundreds of dollars in gift cards.
The gift came through Georgia Wealth Advisors’ Georgia Wealth Gives Back, an annual event helping needy families through a nomination process.
“When I read the story, it touched me so much that you were automatically one of the top few,” Tom Lowry of Georgia Wealth Advisors said.
The family also received four $100 gift cards and a $500 Publix gift card “to go enjoy Thanksgiving and have a big meal on us,” Lowry said.
“We’re going through a lot of trials and tribulations right now, and this is a light from heaven,” Ramirez said.
The Ramirez family formerly lived in a two-bedroom home above the homeless shelter until recently, friend Bill Morrison said.
“As a man, you want to provide for your family and provide a home and so forth, but he didn't have those means, and it just really bothered me a lot,” he said.
Morrison admired Ramirez’s ability to help those in need, particularly those requiring special care and often dealing with substance abuse issues.
“I can do what he can’t do, and he can do what I can’t do, so we work together. That’s what we’re supposed to do as Christians,” Morrison said.
At America’s Home Place, John Tankersley said Morrison came to them with an idea to build a new four-bedroom home on a lot for the Ramirez family.
Tankersley became the “so-called Yoda of the story” in the 90-day build of the home the Ramirez family moved into in August.
“We had the expertise to bring about his vision and kind of point him in the right direction of how to make it happen,” Tankersley said.
Ramirez said the help from the community will make a “tremendous impact on my life” and his family’s life.