In 2019, The Bridgeport Rescue Mission (BRM) purchased a former nursing home on 725 Park Ave. in Bridgeport with plans to renovate it into their new location for their “Renewed Life Residential Program.”
The program is designed to provide women and children who do not have a stable living environment with a place to call home.
The BRM website states, “Our ultimate goal is to help homeless and hurting women gain long-term stability and a better life for their families and to provide children with a safe, nurturing environment to prevent generational homelessness.”
With construction still underway, the BRM has a projected opening date by the end of the summer; however, one room with a story behind it has already had its ribbon cutting ceremony.
On Tuesday, April 26, Daniel Thomas and his wife commemorated the “Pamela Thomas Room.” A place that once almost stopped his mother from furthering her professional career will now lift others to take their next step.
“It’s her room,” said Thomas, who is a realtor broker and member of Sacred Heart University’s Board of Trustees. “It’s going to be named the ‘Pamela Thomas Room,’ there’s going to be a plaque on it, she’ll have her own quote there and forever she’ll be etched in this building as a part of her story.”
The story starts in 1987, when Pamela Thomas worked in the kitchen of the nursing home on 725 Park Ave. as her first job in Bridgeport. With four kids at home, she was taking night classes to get her Certified Nurses License (CNA). When she asked her boss for two weeks off to do her clinicals, she was denied. Nervous to make the wrong decision, Pamela Thomas took the two weeks and lost her job at the nursing home, but she received a permanent CNA position at a hospital.
Fast forward 33 years, and her son, Daniel Thomas, has been volunteering for BRM with his wife and children, donating canned goods and making financial donations. When he learned about the location for the “Renewed Life Residential Program” project, he had flashbacks from his mother’s time working there and the roadblock it caused in their life.
Thomas made the decision to donate $12,500 to the organization to fully fund a residential room.
Rachael Lachowski is the Senior Development Specialist at BRM and helps with fundraising. She graduated from Sacred Heart in 2017 and lived in Bridgeport for her junior and senior year.
“I think I was blinded to the fact that I lived in Bridgeport but didn’t know how much of a need there was,” said Lachowski. “We hear about it, but we don’t see it.”
Women who go through the “Renewed Life Residential Program” will receive case managers to help facilitate their next step in life. A learning center and work-training program will be available to them as well.
“It’s going to be a home for them,” said Lachowski. “To be able to transition into hopefully a permanent home for them. Freedom from traumatic situations that they are going through and that hope that, ‘Okay, I can do this. I can get myself back on my feet with just a little help.’ It’s a safe haven for them to rest and move on to the next step.”
Frank Williams is the CEO of BRM and has dedicated his life to serving underprivileged communities.
“There’s going to be some wonderful opportunities here for students and others that are part of the Sacred Heart community to engage in,” said Williams. “We have a very robust volunteer engagement model on our website to see opportunities to engage in.”
BRM is committed to others seeing their donation in action. The “Renewed Life Residential Program” has packages available for anyone wanting to contribute to the project, from donating $2.50 to buy a meal for one person and $5 for a children’s toy to being a part of something greater, like partially or fully funding a room.
These opportunities are all available on the BRM website.
“As we get ready to become global citizens, we have to see the rest of the world,” said Thomas. “So if we can get more students to come into Bridgeport to come and see where other people are starting, and understand it, it will give them better perspective.”
Pamela Thomas plans to come at Thanksgiving time to see the room donated in her name. She says she wants to make dessert for everyone staying and working at “Renewed Life Residential Program.”
“Full circle wise, I know there is going to be another little Daniel Thomas who walks through this room, his mom will have a training center and won’t have to do 6 p.m. shifts while he’s at home with his sisters,” said Daniel Thomas. “He’ll be right here, and go to school across the street, and hopefully one day he’ll buy the next building for the Bridgeport Rescue Mission. You never know.”