United Way, local agencies help Ponte Vedra man overcome hardships


Twenty-eight months. That’s how long Richard K., a Ponte Vedra resident, lived in his home without running water.

His plumbing problems started with what he thought was a bad well pump. He spent his entire savings on a replacement only to find out it was not the pump, but a broken main line.

The new pump compounded the problem and caused the pipes to fill with sand. Richard then spent more than two years without being able to shower, use the bathroom in the privacy of his own home or prepare himself a home-cooked meal.

His sense of hopelessness spiraled into depression.

During a short hospital stay, Flagler Health+ Care Connect became aware of Richard’s situation and reached out to United Way of St. Johns County for assistance. Understanding that Richard’s situation was more complex than a broken pipe, United Way-SJC contacted several other St. Johns County agencies, such as St. Vincent de Paul Nocatee Chapter, The Krewe of the 13, St. Johns Housing Partnership and Humana.

"When we were contacted by United Way about Richard’s situation and what the coalition of organizations wanted to do, The Krewe of the 13 knew that this was a case where we could live up to our mission of ‘Helping People in Dire Need.’” said Allen Cole, The Krewe of the 13 quartermaster. “The Krewe of the 13 doesn’t just want to solve a short-term problem but change a person’s or family’s situation. With this coalition we not only provided Richard with clean water and sewer, but also the tools for him to change his overall situation."

After dozens of Zoom calls, the organizations were able to assist Richard in paying two years of back property taxes, household budgeting for future sustainability, applying for his water utilities installation, re-plumbing his entire home, pumping out the septic tank, installing a new hot water heater, disconnecting the existing well and weatherizing his home. 

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, St. John Paul II Conference serves neighbors in need in the Nocatee and surrounding areas, typically helping families with rent, utility and food assistance.

“It was a unique opportunity for us to join other local organizations to assist our neighbor, Richard,” said a representative of the St. Vincent de Paul Nocatee Chapter. “Hopefully, the effort of each of the many generous and caring hands will contribute to a healthy and better future for him.”

“Bringing together the organizations needed to turn Richard’s nightmare situation around is what we mean when we say Live United,” said Bev Slough, chair of the United Way of St. Johns Board of Directors. “Together, we can do so much more.”


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