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Success begins at home -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Success begins at home

Brandon Thomas (from left), shared a room with his brothers, Devon, now 21, and De’Metrius, now 23, before the family moved into a Habitat for Humanity house in 1997. Photo courtesy of Brandon Thomas

‘It was up to me to walk through the doors’
By Bill Sanders


In 1997, the Thomas boys — Brandon, De’Metrius and Devon — try out the swingset at their new Habitat home. The set was a gift from First Presbyterian Church of Charleston, W.Va., which sponsored the family’s house. Photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Kanawha & Putnam County.


Brandon Thomas knows it’s not every Charleston kid’s dream to move from the hills of West Virginia to a skyscraper in Manhattan.

But sometimes it sure seems that way to him. Countless young men and women from Thomas’ hometown have tried to pick his brain, to get to know some of his contacts, to learn what his secret was.

Thomas, 25, is an account executive for the public relations firm Widmeyer Communications, near New York City’s Times Square. He has an apartment not too far from his office. By anyone’s account, he’s a success story.

Fortunately for the aspiring big-city executives currently living in West Virginia, “paying it forward” is at the top of Thomas’ to-do list.

“Shame on me if I didn’t say how blessed I am,” Thomas said. “I worked very hard to get where I am, but I got those opportunities. It was up to me to walk through the doors, but I was blessed with the opportunities that presented themselves.”

One of those blessings, he said, was the Habitat for Humanity house his family moved into in 1997, when he was 9 years old. Before, the family lived in a small apartment in a low-income housing complex.

“It wasn’t really a place where we had much room or a place I’d bring friends home to,” he said.

Thomas shared a room with his brothers, De’Metrius, now 23, and Devon, 21. His mother, Janiece Thompson, remembers Thomas constantly providing leadership and direction for his younger siblings as the family made the best of their living situation.

“It was what we could afford at the time, and so we made it work,” she said. “But I grew up in a house, and I wanted so badly for my kids to have a house, a yard, a patio.”

Next: Building a house, building self-esteem
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