17 Apr Staff Spotlight: A Place to Call Home
As the COVID-19 crisis continues, having a safe, clean place to live can mean the difference between life and death. After decades of homelessness, all Thomas Hooker dreamed about is having a space of his own to call home.
Three weeks ago, that dream came true. Thanks to The Doe Fund, where he works as a Driver for Ready, Willing & Able, he moved into his first apartment.
Thomas and his roommate—another Ready, Willing & Able trainee-turned-staff member—are still moving in, a process exacerbated by the ongoing quarantine. Given the circumstances, they were surprised they were able to seal the deal in the first place.
“When we found the apartment, it was already the middle of March and the pandemic had arrived,” said Thomas. “I was worried. I was thinking, ‘We’re not getting in. Who’s gonna file the paperwork?’”
But his Doe Fund Housing Specialist came through, putting in the work to get their application squared away as the city entered lockdown.
The significance of having a room of his own during these unprecedented times has not been lost on Thomas. “For the first time ever, I have a true refuge—an apartment that’s mine. I can come and go as I please,” he told us. “You can’t possibly understand what that feels like to someone who has spent their whole life on the other side of that door.”
Of course, finding a home hasn’t been Thomas’s only big change in the last few weeks. He’s had to adjust his work routine because of COVID-19, including taking extra time to disinfect Ready, Willing & Able vans, wearing a mask and gloves, and transporting half as many trainees at a time to maintain social distance. But these changes haven’t put a dent in his spirits.
“Everyone’s complaining about being stuck in their house. But I’m grateful. I’m glad I have a place of my own after so many years of being homeless,” he said.
With this apartment,Thomas has also met the requirements to graduate from Ready, Willing & Able.
“It’s a beautiful thing,” Thomas said. “Knowing I have a safe place to live is a blessing. I’d stay in here even if there wasn’t a pandemic going on!”