#MissionMonday - Thomas

Every Monday, we'll be posting a new story of how our mission has assisted people in the community. Be sure to check back each week for a new and inspirational story of someone who was helped by Goodwill Manasota. Changing lives through the power of work...it's what we do.

Thomas was a struggling musician living in Las Vegas. He moved out of his house at 18 and spent the next few years playing music in public places for donations. He did not mind living modestly but he really wanted a stable income.


He tried to create some kind of stable cash flow in order to cover basic expenses. Thomas had relationships with many different venues in the area and could communicate with them well. Eventually, he began leveraging those relationships and started to book bands for clubs and bars all over town. This new job was grueling, requiring long days and nights as well as extensive traveling. 


Thomas realized he was not having fun anymore. He quit his job and moved to Ohio with nothing more than the guitar on his back. He was looking for a job that came with a normal 40-hour work-week and he found one: he began working as a debt collections specialist. Always a restless soul, Thomas traveled around for a few years, moving next to Texas and then, finally, to Florida.


Thomas really loved his new job in Florida. He worked for an insurance company, researching claims, answering inquiries and coordinating with adjustors, attorneys and clients. He made good money and was able to purchase a condominium on the water, while still playing his guitar at night in local restaurants. One night, while playing at a local bar, he met a woman, Ann, who seemed to be out of hope and dreams. After he got off work, they spent hours talking. Thomas was smitten. He invited Ann to move in with him. Ann was good with numbers so he asked her to help him manage his finances. He gave her his tip money from his nighttime job, along with the paycheck from his full-time job.


Thomas realized that his decision might have been a little too hasty when he began noticing that money was disappearing from his checking account. One night he found drug paraphernalia – needles and syringes – hidden in his sofa cushions. When he confronted Ann, she confessed that prior to moving in with him she had been homeless. She explained she began using drugs years ago. She thought she could overcome her problem until she became homeless. She promised Thomas she would stop using. Three months later, nothing had changed. Thomas asked Ann to leave but she refused. Thomas took legal action and went to court to begin eviction proceedings. Unfortunately, Ann had begun receiving mail at Thomas’ house so the judge considered her a resident, despite the fact that her name was not on the mortgage documents.


Thomas was tired of fighting the situation and tired of paying legal bills. He decided that the only way to break off this relationship and move Ann out of his life was to allow his home to go into foreclosure. Thomas quit his full-time job and ended up on the street, where his focus turned back to playing his guitar for donations.


Thomas became a frequent customer at Turning Points in Bradenton. Occasionally, he would get in touch with his parents back in Las Vegas to have them wire money. Thomas applied for Job Connection services with Kathy in the Job Connection office and he explained his situation. Kathy met with Thomas to determine if he was ready to go back to work. She found that Thomas’ biggest barrier to employment was that he did not have a telephone. While Thomas did have a resume, employers could not contact him directly. The phone number listed on the resume rang to his parents’ house in Las Vegas. Thomas’ parents would call Turning Points and leave a message for the staff to relay to Thomas when they saw him. Once Thomas got the message, he would return the call to the employer, only to find the employer had already filled the opening.

Kathy learned that due to some kind of paperwork technicality, Thomas was not eligible for a free phone. She tracked down someone at SafeLink who could help. SafeLink corrected the error and Thomas received a telephone that he could now use for his job search.


While he was working on his job search, Thomas went to the Salvation Army to get on the Street Team so that he would have a place to stay. He was there just one week when he got in a verbal altercation because someone stole his backpack. The Street Team had strict rules about fighting – and that meant Thomas had to leave the Salvation Army.


Now his biggest barrier to employment was than he did not have the documents required for employment (like his Social Security card and Florida ID) because they had been in his backpack. Getting new copies of those items was going to take time and money that Thomas did not have. Three days later, Thomas got a call from the Salvation Army informing him that someone had found his backpack and he could pick it up anytime


Thomas retrieved his backpack that day and returned to Turning Points. Kathy helped Thomas immediately to resume his job search. Soon after, Thomas got a call from a medical supply company. Thomas interviewed that week and had a job offer by Friday.


Thomas is now working in a warehouse preparing medical equipment for shipment. He is making enough money to rent his own place and he is excited about the opportunity to start over again. Thomas says it is hard to ask for assistance finding work when you have always been able to do it yourself. He is grateful that Goodwill was there when it was time to ask for help. It’s what we do …