Donald Thomas was our guest speaker at our October fundraiser. He shared his story of living on $791 a month and how The Caring Place brought him to a better place through hard times. This is his speech:
791. That’s the number I shared when I first came to The Caring Place. That number might surprise you. 791 dollars is what I receive each month from Social Security. I worked for Ford and sold parts most of my life. When Ford bought out my retirement, I came to Georgetown and worked 8 more years for Walmart. Now I barely make it on my retirement of 791.
Like a lot of people, I want to help my family when I can. A few years ago, I took out a loan to help my daughter and her kids. It was one of those high interest loans, like if you borrow $500 dollars, it costs you $1500 to pay back. When I came to The Caring Place I had the opportunity to participate in the Alternative Loan Program. First Texas Bank was a partner in this program, and it helped me in so many ways. I was underwater with that first loan and The Caring Place and First Texas Bank saved me. I paid that loan off just this past June.
Through The Caring Place and United Way I also participated in a money management class. Managing money was only part of the help, advice and support I got from The Caring Place. For example, food is not something I worry about anymore. I use The Caring Place Food Pantry every month and it helps me stretch that 791 dollars to pay for other things I need. My most important need is housing. I am lucky to have affordable housing for this area, but if I don’t pay my rent on time every month, I can lose it immediately. They don’t give you a second chance because you are fooling with HUD.
Last year, I had to have surgery for a heart aneurysm. My case manager asked me ‘How can The Caring Place help?” Together, we decided that rental assistance was a smart plan. They helped me with rent to secure my housing. It was a good thing because my recovery was hard. I wasn’t in my right mind for weeks, and I would have missed that payment. After an 8 hour heart surgery doctors gave me 6 weeks to get better before going home and 2 years before I would be recovered. In March, while still in rehab and learning how to use my legs again, I accepted an invitation from The Caring Place to participate in a fall prevention class called ‘A Matter of Balance.’ I learned a lot, laughed a lot and was able to be around people going through similar things. I found friendships there.
But, how did I get to The Caring Place for all these classes and meetings? That was another surprise. I didn’t know Georgetown had any public transportation or that I could even arrange a ride, but The Caring Place did. It’s their business to know those things. Did you know a taxi would cost me $15 just to get to Walmart? Georgetown buses are a lot less expensive and The Caring Place can help me with bus tickets. So now I have a more affordable way to get to the doctor and other places. To never leave your home can be very lonely, and I like to get out, so transportation is very important.
My Case Manager, Kathleen, was looking at my file as I was preparing to speak at this event and she said “Donald, something changed in 2019.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. You see, for many years I have regularly needed help. But, 2019 looks different. I have not needed financial support from The Caring Place. I know I put in the work to make that happen. I am determined when it comes to living on my 791, but I also know that The Caring Place helped me figure out how to do it. They connected me to resources and supported me when I needed it most. The Caring Place gave me independence during hard times. When asked what my future goals are, I’d say I am doing pretty good at this time. I am not bragging, but I am doing better than I was, and I am not stressed. If I need something, I know I can come to The Caring Place.
Thank you for letting me share my story and for supporting The Caring Place tonight.