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The Donald Thomas Story

The Donald Thomas Story

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.

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