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Success Stories: Donell Thomas

Author: Amanda Ellis

November 20, 2022

It was about 10 years ago when
I came home and found a flyer for the Center for Urban Families hanging on the knob of my front door advertising a program I had never heard of: STRIVE®.

I had so much on my mind—I felt like I had lost everything over a period of several years, a job, a marriage, all my possessions, even custody of my children. At one point, I had also lost my house and was living in my mother’s basement.

I was struggling hard, so when I saw the door tag, I pulled it off the knob and didn’t pay it no mind. For months, it just sat there. I knew I needed to get my life on track, so eventually I went down to the Center to register myself for the program.

Over the years, I worked hard to make my way and eventually regained custody of my kids. I became a certified nursing assistant and worked in the field before starting my career at Johns Hopkins delivering medical equipment.

And here’s what the people at the Center did: They have a heart. Regardless of what is going on, they want to help. When my family needed groceries, they connected me to food. They showed me how to improve my resume and linked me up with job opportunities. They provided Thanksgiving dinner and gift cards to help make things a little easier. The lessons I learned in the Fatherhood program help me when I am trying to teach responsibility to my kids, who are now teenagers.

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“You have to look adversity straight in the face and deal with it.”

Earlier this year when I was looking to buy a house, Ms. Marilyn helped me get a $10,000 grant. I closed on my new home in Northwood on June 6. When my girlfriend and I look at the house, we’re trying to make it feel like heaven in there. It is so quiet and peaceful. The kids are real relaxed.

I appreciate what I’ve been through. I am definitely stronger today. You have to look adversity straight in the face and deal with it.