“It just shows you that even at my age anyone can still move forward.”

Now 59 years old, Thomas is one of our soup kitchen guests who is living in the shadow of the Great Recession. A New York native, Thomas has been homeless since he lost his job as a live–in property caretaker a little over a year ago.

“I’ve never been homeless in my life,” he states. “At first I stayed with family and friends … But I’m too old to rely on them … they have their own lives.”

A stone mason and swimming pool installer by trade, Thomas, at age 59, struggled to find new work in these specialized and physically demanding job markets. Unemployed, with age working against him, Thomas realized he had to think outside the box and use all the resources he could find before he lost hope.

“I get down sometimes, I do,” he declared. “But I try not to let it get the best of me.” With a little research, he found a free work re-training program for adults through the city. It was there that someone told him about the mid-day meals at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen. We’ve been his “go-to” place during the day ever since.

Along with over 60,000 New Yorkers staying in city shelters each night, Thomas had been struggling to find enough healthy, nutritious food to keep him going strong during the day.

“I would have nothing really, to eat, otherwise. There’s no food at the shelter,” he said, remarking on the well-balanced meal he was eating, and the variety of fruits and vegetables on his tray. “It’s remarkable what the soup kitchen does, making 1,000 meals like this every day … The food is consistently good.”

For Thomas, the soup kitchen has also been a big part of his back-to-work plan, and a major source of encouragement. With the reading glasses provided by our social services program, Thomas tells me that one of our counselors pointed him in the direction of our computer lab. There, he’s been busy learning new skills and has gotten help updating his resume.

“I’m ready, willing and able,” he says, saving his best news for last. “I’ve just been hired part time by the City Parks and Rec department…and I can’t wait to start. My goal is that in six months it’s going to be full time … It just shows you that even at my age anyone can still move forward.”