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Success begins at home (part 2) -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Success begins at home (part 2)


Janiece Thompson, shown here in 1997, said moving into the Habitat house helped her teach her sons many important lessons. “They began to see how they could aspire to things and be driven to get an education and a home of their own someday,” she said. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam County


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Building a house, building self-esteem

Thomas’ house was the 50th to be built by Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam County, so there was a celebratory mood on the construction site to mark the milestone.

“Building it was really fun,” Thomas said. “I remember the walls going up and how monumental that was. And the kids all enjoyed painting. There were so many fun experiences and so many volunteers supporting us.”

Five years later, Thomas became friends with a few of the kids who, with their parents, had volunteered on his home.

“It was like, ‘Hey, I remember you!’ ” Thomas said. “Reconnecting like that was really cool.”

Thomas went on to graduate from high school and then the University of West Virginia. De’Metrius graduated recently from Marshall University, and Devon is now a part-time student there.

Both Thomas and his mother believe the Habitat for Humanity experience helped put Brandon and his brothers on the path to success.

“It made so much of a difference,” his mother said. “To have a yard where they could invite kids over, and to have a porch they could sit on to do homework — these kinds of things helped shape all of my sons’ self-esteem. They saw how the house made me happier, and they began to see how they could aspire to things and be driven to get an education and a home of their own someday.”

A critical piece of the puzzle

“There were so many key pieces that helped shape who I am today,” Thomas said. “I moved to New York City, got a good job, and have a blessed life. But I was surrounded by family members who prayed for me.

“If I’m a success, then my mom and dad, and my grandparents, deserve a lot of the credit. And I have a lot of faith in God, who has blessed me. But Habitat for Humanity provided a resource we needed that was very critical in all of this.”

Now Thomas is focusing on helping others get the same opportunities.

“I constantly am reaching out to young people, particularly back home,” Thomas said. “Someone took a chance on me. If I can take a chance on someone, I’m 100 percent for it.

“There are a ton of people in my shoes, who came from the same background I did. I feel in my spirit that I am charged with this responsibility. I can’t let it slip by the wayside.”