Survivor overcomes childhood challenges, finds social work in East Texas his calling

Survivor overcomes childhood challenges, finds social work in East Texas his calling
Photo: KTRE
Photo: KTRE

A man from India who now calls East Texas home is sharing his story in hopes of helping others.

Jacob Thomas, 29, uses his career every day in to help his community as a hospice professional. But before finding a career, he said it was the culmination of his life experiences which included overcoming hardships at a young age that have gotten him where he is in life now.

His family moved to New Jersey from India when he was still young where he was suddenly surrounded by the unfamiliar.

"There were no Indian kids in our class growing up in Butler, New Jersey and I believe we were the only Indian family on Roosevelt Avenue," Thomas said.

He wove himself into school and eventually fell in love with sports. But as adjusting got better, he began facing challenges at home.

"Definitely I would say the first challenge was parents' divorce. I didn't really know how to transition to a new neighborhood going from Butler New Jersey to Bergenfield New Jersey," Thomas said.

The fourth grader at the time in a new country, was then told his parents were getting a divorce now having to live in two cities. He said it was hard for him to open up, but found solace in confiding in his teacher.

As his senior year approached of high school his relationship with his father took a downward turn.

"It was hard for me to go through that. I remember in a way that we were kicked out and we had a fight and we all had a couple fights growing up - I mean what family doesn't. But this was a more drastic turning in my life at that point," Thomas said.

After starting college with a football scholarship, he struggled with finding a solid career path. He fell in love with many subjects and took on numerous careers in his 20s  by busing tables, bar-tending and even modeling. That's where he found himself surrounded by the wrong people.

"I got involved with crowds that not really were not really too healthy for me and i just lost myself. No sense of direction no sense of guidance but at the same time I had a hope in me that I was going to get out of this," Thomas said.

He found a glimmer of hope  in a mentor who guided him. The next few years he spent searching for the right path, a path that led him to social work.

"We got here and I thought this was the smallest and most adorable town. We were driving through Lufkin and I thought this was so cool," Thomas said.

After pulling together all his experiences and mending his relationship with his father and mother, he said he now loves serving his clients with what he's learned from his past.

"The biggest lesson is that it's ok to let go. It's ok to let go and let God. And it's ok to say I need help," Thomas said.

Thomas said he's currently enjoying his role coordinating efforts to honor veterans.

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