More Testimonials

Gilda and Bobby Phills TestimonialBobby Phills proudly served our country for two years rising to the ranks of SP5 in the U.S. Army Helicopter Aviation branch. During his years of service, Bobby spent 13 months in the Vietnam War fighting the Viet Cong and North Vietnam rebels in the country’s jungles. As with many of his fellow soldiers and those living in Vietnam, he began to develop health complications years after the war ended due to exposure to the Agent Orange defoliation chemical used during the conflict, ultimately causing his kidneys to fail.

“I first noticed changes in my health in 1976 and later was diagnosed with hypertension and type II diabetes which were caused by the exposure to the Agent Orange chemicals in Vietnam,” explained Bobby. “I was told in February 2008 that my kidneys were rapidly beginning to fail and I needed to prepare for dialysis treatments and possibly a kidney transplant.”

Shortly after beginning dialysis treatment in August 2008, Bobby began the evaluation process and was eventually placed on the kidney transplant list. Because of his B positive blood type, he was told it could possibly take up to five years or longer to receive a transplant if he couldn’t find a living donor. Bobby received his kidney in January 2014.

During one of his periodic evaluation visits, his social worker informed him and his wife, Gilda, they would need to stay locally for approximately six weeks following his transplant. They were given a list of available lodging options that included Gabriel House and after receiving several high recommendations they decided to give the house a try.

“It was completely different from the house I was expecting to see,” Bobby explained. “It looks just like a hotel but is set up in a way that allows for and encourages interaction and bonding among guests. Although that can be awkward at first, you soon realize it’s the lasting impact of the social contact that is the heart of Gabriel House.”

What struck them the most was how Gabriel House fosters hope, inspiration, spirituality, peace and ultimate comfort at a time when families need it the most. It offers people a place to come and share their lives with one another for a few months, weeks or days and help each other in ways they don’t expect or ever imagine.

“The Bible says that many are called, but few are chosen. The entire staff and the organizations that support Gabriel House are indeed the ‘Chosen Ones’,” explained Bobby. “Our stay there will be etched in our memory for a lifetime. The impact everyone had on each other was very powerful and far reaching. Gabriel House is not only a place to recover from a transplant or cancer treatment but also serves as a place to strengthen your entire being.”

Gabriel House Fosters Lasting Friendships

Ed and Jodi KellyHearing the words “you have cancer” changes your life in an instant sending you spiraling into a world with more questions than answers. Will I survive, what happens next, how will this impact my family emotionally and financially? These were many of the questions running through Ed and Jodi Kelly’s minds when they learned Ed had prostate cancer in June 2011.

During Ed’s routine health check, his physician found his PSA level was elevated, possibly indicating cancer. Antibiotic treatment was unsuccessful and a biopsy showed Ed had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. After weighing his treatment options, he chose to have surgery, which showed it had spread beyond the prostate. Following several consultations and second opinions, Ed and Jodi chose to come from their home in Tennessee to Mayo Clinic for eight-weeks of radiation therapy.

With the decision made to come to Jacksonville, their next hurdle was finding an affordable place to live for two months. Not wanting to stay in a hotel, they learned about Gabriel House from his Mayo physician. Ed and Jodi visited the house to see if it was an option for them.

“I have to admit we didn’t know what to expect not knowing much about hospitality houses or how they worked. We weren’t sure if it would be stressful sharing common areas like the kitchen and we didn’t want to add more stress to the already overwhelming amount we had with leaving home and my job for two months of cancer treatments,” explained Ed. “However all of our apprehension went away once we walked into Gabriel House. The facility was beautiful; the staff was very reassuring and answered all of our questions and concerns. We knew we were in the right place.”

What they didn’t expect was the many different aspects of their lives that would be touched and in ways that would last beyond the Gabriel House walls.

“Staying at Gabriel House was wonderful. It reduced our stress in many ways with the short distance to my treatments, a manageable cost and meeting terrific people. However, what was most remarkable and unexpected was how quickly we became a big family. We reacted with joy when there was good news for someone and we comforted each other when there was bad news. Our caregivers had each other to lean on when they needed someone to talk to or who would just listen. You can’t get this kind of support at a hotel where your neighbors are moving in and out daily,” explained Ed. “Plus the bonds we made with some of the guests have lasted over the past couple of years. After returning home, I went back to work and then retired in July 2012. A few weeks later, Jodi and I embarked on a five-week cross country trip that included visiting three couples we met at Gabriel House. Our stops included West Yellowstone, Montana; Galveston, Texas and Merced, California. This past April, we visited with another couple who lives in northwest Florida. All of them are wonderful blessings that we received during a very difficult time in our lives. We are very grateful for each of them as they have touched our lives in a very special way.”

Young Lives Put on Hold Find a Helping Hand

Ed and Jodi KellyWhen you are young, happily married and a mother of three, you have your whole life in front of you. Or do you? For 29-year-old Wendy Caro, her life as she knew it, came to a sudden halt, when she learned at the age of 26 she had an enlarged heart. Upon hearing the news, she and her husband Mike knew their lives were about to drastically change and their future was now uncertain. Within three months of her diagnosis, she was placed on the heart transplant list and after two years of medications and waiting, she received her new heart in March 2012 at Mayo Clinic. Wendy and Mike spent the next three months at Gabriel House of Care, away from their three young boys who were back in central Florida, staying with family, while she recovered from her transplant.

“We were so fortunate to have found Gabriel House as it was going to be expensive to stay in a hotel during my recovery, not to mention the emotional toll it would take on us,” Wendy explained.“ Mike had just graduated with his engineering degree and was interviewing for jobs when we found out I had an enlarged heart. He had to drop everything to care for me and our three boys so things were definitely up in the air for us in so many ways.”

It didn’t take long for them to see the house’s uniqueness or feel the amazing giving spirit that is present through those who work and volunteer as well as the special camaraderie among the guests.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we checked in to the house. We heard it was a wonderful place and it didn’t take long for us to see why,” Wendy shared. “What makes Gabriel House so special is the way it is set up to encourage you to be out of your room when you’re able to. It helps to be in an environment where you can talk with other people who are in a similar situation as they become your support system and uplift you on the difficult days. It’s a very healing experience on so many levels.”

Wendy and Mike left the house on May 26, 2012, their 5th wedding anniversary.


Keep Up to Date

Want to know about events happening and ways to volunteer?

Join our email list and we will send you notices!
Become part of the community of healing at The Gabriel House!





Location: 4599 Worrall Way, Jacksonville, FL 32224
Main Number: (904) 821-8995

top rated non profit