It is rare to find someone that is totally dedicated to helping others in need, without looking for anything in return.
That rare, humble humanitarian was George Taylor Sr., a man who made it his mission and his passion to eliminate homelessness among military veterans in Central Florida. He would do anything for a fellow veteran.
Always wearing his signature black cowboy hat, jeans and often a western-style shirt, he would go into the woods to where he knew he would find homeless veterans, calling out to them as he approached their camps.
He would take them supplies — tents, sleeping bags, clothes and other essential items — ask what else they needed and try to get them into transitional housing. Taylor’s focus was homeless veterans, but I know he would help anyone in need.
About five years ago, I was talking with him and he said he would begin slowing down. I don’t think he really ever could slow down from helping fellow veterans in need.
On May 17, George Taylor Sr. died suddenly at the age of 70. He was the founder and president of the National Veterans Homeless Support. The organization provides help to homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless.
Taylor leaves behind a legacy of service to others that is incomparable. His kindness, compassion and care for others led him to serve so many in our community and beyond.
His is an example we all should strive to follow. There are so many veterans who are no longer homeless and many more who are much better off because of him.
Taylor never forgot his own struggles. He lived through the darkness of war in Vietnam, where he served with the Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade. Post-traumatic stress soon overwhelmed him on his return home, and he found himself homeless for a short while until he received the help he needed for PTSD. He never forgot that either and soon began helping other veterans.
NVHS’s efforts during the past 10 years have led to the reduction of the number of homeless veterans’ population in Brevard County from an estimated 1,800 to fewer than 216, an 88 percent difference.
Some are in NVHS transitional housing, where they are offered help in finding jobs and permanent homes.
I have known Taylor for many years during my career as a journalist. More than three years ago, he invited me to serve as a volunteer member of the NVHS board of directors. It was an honor to be accepted among these selfless servants.
Even if there were just two or three veterans who were still homeless or struggling, I know Taylor’s job would not be done and he would still be going strong finding them help however he could.
Like so many others in our community and beyond, I will miss Taylor. I know that his son, George Taylor Jr., and other family members and supporters will continue carrying out his mission.
I pledge to continue doing whatever I can to help carry out that mission and help to keep his legacy alive.