A Conversation with Wayne Thomas

Q: What brought you to Pine Street?

Wayne: I grew up in shelter systems with my mom so I know how homelessness feels. About three years ago, I saw a 50th-anniversary ad for Pine Street and something told me I could do some good there. I started working here within 30 days. I love the work we do and the variety that I get in my position. I’m always willing to help out, from donations, to the clinic, to outreach, to housing; It takes us all to make our mission work.

Q: Was there a time in your three years here that you feel like you were able to help a guest?

Wayne: We had one guest come to the shelter who was struggling with mental illness. He had recently moved to Massachusetts and was having trouble getting his prescriptions filled, so he had not been taking his medication.

He was very transparent with me and would come to me when he knew he was feeling out of control. I would have conversations with him to bring him down a little bit. I did that as much as possible, but we needed to find a long-term solution for him.

We had a bed at another site that could better cater to his needs. He wanted help, but his brother was staying at the shelter too, and he didn’t want to leave him. I got a MATCH worker involved and together we convinced the guest that getting mental health help would be the best thing. I reassured him that I’d keep track of his brother. Because of the rapport that I had built with this guest, he trusted me. Being able to help guests like this is one of the reasons that I love the work I do every day.

Q: What’s your favorite part of the job?

Wayne: I enjoy interacting with the guests, and being hands-on. The more I see someone who is feeling down, the more I want to build them back up. Many of our guests feel invisible and ignored by society. I work to make them feel seen and like they matter. I talk to the guests and try to understand them and build trust. That’s my way of making sure that guests feel welcome and valued.