Compassion is the cornerstone of Deborah Thomas’s approach to life, one of the many things she attributes to learning from her mother. It was compassion and love that compelled Ms. Thomas to seek legal guardianship of her niece and nephew in 2012 even though she was already a single parent. It was compassion that strengthened her resolve to care for her terminally ill mother until she passed away. It is her compassion and her concern for others that inspires her to serve New Yorkers with disabilities.
For more than a decade, Deborah Thomas has worked as a Direct Support Aide, offering a friendly smile and encouragement to both patients and colleagues alike. To be able to make her monthly rent of $1,945 and cover the living expenses of her large family, she has always counted on overtime pay and occasional weekend shifts. Unfortunately, this lifeline of extra hours was suddenly cut off when her company placed a six-month freeze on overtime hours.
“It was so frustrating,” Deborah said. “You’re working as hard as you can and it’s just not enough!” She had full-time hours but the take-home pay often meant that she had to choose between paying for food and medication or paying the rent. By the time Ms. Thomas was referred to The Bridge Fund in July 2019, she owed a little more than three month’s back rent, and was in imminent danger of eviction. The Bridge Fund determined that Ms. Thomas and her family were deserving of consideration. Ms. Thomas had a good reason for owing rent and had recently found a second job as a home health aide. With the combined income, she could make ends meet. The Bridge Fund, therefore, provided a $1,500 interest-free loan and partnered with three other organizations to pay all the rental arrears and settle the Housing Court case.
When speaking about her Bridge Fund caseworker, Ms. Thomas said, “I owe her so much, truly. The Bridge Fund was a lifeline.”