Thomas_smiling1 (1024x683)Thomas is the youngest of eight children from Kinston, NC.  He entered the Air Force in 1980 after his high school principal caught him skipping class and gave him the option of returning to his class or taking the entry exam for the Armed Forces. “It was a really boring class,” he remembers.  Thomas took the exam and joined the Air Force as soon as he graduated from high school.

After the Air Force, Thomas lived in several places but he always ended up back in North Carolina.  He struggled to find stability, staying with different family members and working different jobs.  He lived at the Wilmington Street Shelter for a time.  Thomas also stayed at Urban Ministries in Durham while he was working at a hotel.

When Thomas was 45 years old, he went to prison for just under a year.  “My deliverance came while I was in prison,” he says.  “I had to go through everything I’d been through to get to where I am now.  I’m so grateful.”

Upon his release, Thomas lived in transitional housing where he got organized and searched for housing.  He got his birth certificate and social security card.  He worked on skills he would need to live on his own.  Today, Thomas gives back by volunteering with homeless veterans and setting up the chairs for the AA meetings he attends at least once a week.

In his CASA apartment, everything is neat and in its place.  Thomas’ cane leans against the closet door in his tidy bedroom.  In the kitchen, appliances given to him as housewarming gifts are lined up neatly on the counter.  “This is my foundation right here,” Thomas smiles.  “Because it’s mine!  I don’t have to worry about where I’m going to sleep tonight, and I don’t have to ask you for something because I have it all here.  I can accomplish anything.”

The best part of his CASA apartment, Thomas says, is having a place where his sisters can visit and he can cook for them.  “It’s a beautiful feeling,” he says about having his own home.  “I’m just overflowing with enough.”