Photo courtesty of Washington Post.
Thomas McRae Jr. had a rough start in life.
By the time he was 16, he had lived in 22 different foster homes. He never understood what it meant to truly be part of a family. He lived in constant fear of being moved to a new placement, and usually responded with anger and aggression because of the hand he had been dealt.
Last week when I spoke with Thomas, I never would have guessed he came from such an unstable background. He is incredibly well-spoken and kind, and very ambitious. He is entering his senior year of college in Philadelphia and is majoring in psychology with a concentration in philosophy.
Last summer, he worked on Capitol Hill in Washington DC as part of an internship with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. He was featured in a Washington Post story an on CNN, and spoke (often as the keynote) for several events across the United States, including on National Orphan Day.
After graduation, Thomas plans to obtain his master’s degree in social work and pursue a career as a clinical psychologist for foster youth. He wants to continue as a public speaker and a mentor, and to give back to non-profits in the District of Columbia.
Sounds like a pretty awesome individual and a wonderful asset to society, right?
Now let’s back up and see how Boys Town helped play a role in his transformation.
The fall before his senior year of high school, Thomas had a confrontation with one of his foster parents and was placed in a family-style home at a Boys Town Washington DC. This was the first non-foster care group home he had ever lived in. While Thomas was scheduled to stay in the home only for a couple of days, his lawyer advocated for a long-term placement. Thomas ended up staying for eight months. In that short time, he turned his life around, found a new direction and graduated high school.
Today, Thomas fondly remembers his Family-Teachers ®, Hubert and Chauna Geter, and everything they did for him.
“I had the greatest Family-Teachers in the world,” Thomas said. “They were so inspiring, so motivating. They taught me what it means to have a mother and father. They taught be patience and kindness. Everything they did was out of love. Mr. Geter taught me what it means to be a man, to love your wife. So down to earth. They loved me and that caused me to fall in love with them, be obedient and respectful. Had it not been for them, I would not be the man I am today. They also taught me how to be an ‘awesome opportunist.’ They taught me time management, how to be organized, how to earn privileges. I owe them so much credit.”
To hear how such an inspiring story about how a short stay at Boys Town can completely transform a youth’s life really proves to me the power of what we can do. Our Family-Teachers, our staff and our volunteers all are amazing individuals who are changing the lives of kids every day.
But they can’t do it alone. Learn more about how you can support and share in our mission here.