Tom’s Long Journey Toward Home
Once you read Tom Brown’s story, you’ll truly admire his motto: “Never give up.”
Tom was living the good life—a Navy veteran, working a job he loved in the dining hall at Norwich University, family who loved him very much.
Little did he know, a brain tumor—though benign—had been slowly growing since an accident in his childhood. He unknowingly suffered a stroke and had to leave his job at the University after a significant change in his behavior. He moved home to New Jersey to be with his mother and sister, all the while leaving doctors baffled with his condition.
After months of uncertainty, a doctor at New York University finally found Tom’s brain tumor, established that he had had a stroke, and brought him in for surgery right away.
But his journey wasn’t over yet. By the time he was ready to leave the hospital, Tom’s mother had passed away and all her possessions in storage were removed since no one was paying the bill. He spent the two years following surgery in rehabilitation, learning how to walk and talk again and regaining his memory.
Tom returned to Vermont, homeless, fragile, and lost. For a few weeks, he lived in a tent in his friend’s backyard until they were able to secure temporary housing in a motel through the COVID-19 emergency housing program. Surrounded by other motel guests who were using drugs and alcohol, Tom tried to focus on tending a small garden and bettering his situation.
Throughout this long and challenging journey, Tom never gave up because he had strength and willpower.
At last, Tom’s life was about to change. He connected with Haven Community Service Coordinator, Katie, just before the motel housing program was coming to an end. Katie visited him at the motel to check on him and his cat, Mookie, help him fill out applications and paperwork, and joined forces with the Veterans Affairs Hospital to find Tom permanent housing.
When he heard the words “we have an apartment for you,” Tom could finally see a bright end to his long journey.
Today, Tom and Mookie are settled into their apartment. Close to the Haven, he can easily stop by the Food Shelf and utilize other Haven services. Katie continues to check in on the duo, supporting Tom so that he can stay housed.
Tom is so grateful to live in a place where neighbors care so deeply for one another and want to uplift and empower others out of the goodness of their hearts.