If you have ever walked inside the Highland Center, chances are Thomas greeted you with a sweet “hello” and a huge smile. But behind Thomas’ smile is a history of struggle. Thomas was first hospitalized with Schizophrenia when he was 14 years old. Since then, his life has been filled with hospitals, counselors, and medication. When he was 21, he graduated in the first class of Brentwood Hospital’s high school. Shortly after graduation, he found his way to Volunteers of America. “When he first came in the system in his early 20s, he wouldn’t even speak,” said Eddie Jenkins, VP of Behavioral Health. “That may not sound like much to some people, but he has overcome a lot.” Today, Thomas lives at home with his parents and his father drives him to Vision of Hope every morning. The center helps people with chronic mental illness learn ways of coping with their illness, guides them toward achieving their goals and allows them a place to have fun and be in healthy relationships with others .
Thomas loves socializing and meeting new people. “I missed a lot growing up in so many hospitals, but it’s never to late to catch up. I’m pretty young at 58!” Vision of Hope is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays– Fridays. Drop-ins are welcome. “I am mentally okay, and life is good.”