Laura Thomas has bounced around in recent months in Reno from shelters to downtown motels to hospital stays and back to shelters.
Laura moved to Reno from Sacramento in October 2015, while still recovering from brain surgery, when she was also in her words “homeless, jobless and without hope.”
A New Start in Reno
“I wanted a new start,” she says. “Something fresh, something slower paced, something quieter, someplace where I could give back. Here there’s fewer homeless people, but more giving hearted people and a lot more resources to help the homeless, which are easier to find.”
Formerly a certified nurse’s aide with expertise in helping the elderly, she was hoping to get recertified in Nevada and start working again in the same field, but her overall health slowed her down again in recent weeks.
“I love the wisdom from old people. I love their company. I love dealing with their families,” she told us on a recent sunny day when her spirits were up. “I had a ball and I wouldn’t mind going back to it. I would love to go back to work today,” she said.
Her Heart Breaks for Other Homeless
Even though she is homeless herself, every time she meets another homeless person it breaks her heart.
“I’ve seen elderly people. I’ve seen people with children. I’ve seen alcoholics. I’ve seen drug addicts. I’ve seen veterans. I’ve seen all walks of life. People come up to talk to me. They say, ‘I’m homeless today because I lost my job.’”
A Housing First Advocate, Especially for the Elderly and Veterans
Laura believes giving homeless people access to their own housing, especially the elderly and veterans, would give them a new taste for life.
“It’s very sad to see elderly who have nowhere to go. They can’t go out and get a job. If they had just a simple place to stay, they would have hope. I’m sure they would gladly want to be off the streets. You also don’t want to see our veterans dying on the streets. Our vets served our country. They did their job. Why not give them a home and hope?”
Laura says offering access to individual housing could also give new vigor to the chronically homeless. “Sometimes it seems like they just don’t care, because in their mind, this is all they have, this is all they are going to hold on to.”
Hope and Despair
When she is able to walk around the streets of Reno, Laura is known as someone who always gives others a smile and friendly advice.
“Days when I feel good, and I wake up and open my eyes, that’s a good hope for me,” she said. Other days, when she doesn’t feel like confronting the world outside, she says she just stays in a room in the dark all day long.