COMPANY: Open Arms Development Agency
Terrence Thomas is the 29-year-old founder of Open Arms Developmental Agency. The Open Arms Developmental Agency is a social service organization dedicated to fusing higher education, faith-based organizations and local citizens to help college students learn how to use their faith to combat and change issues in their communities.
Thomas began laying the foundation for his charity in August 2010. He did this with the help of about twenty student athletes from the Morehouse College football team. They, along with Thomas, created an outreach team whose mission was to overturn homelessness and hunger in their community. They named this initiative The Homeless and Hungry Resolution Movement.
In the same year, Thomas was offered the opportunity to work with the Department of Juvenile Justice. He accepted a job as a juvenile corrections officer. Once he was in this position, he received an insider’s glimpse into the world of the young people that he was trying to service via the homeless and hungry campaign. Thomas discovered that “the only way to understand the young offenders [was] to spend time with them.” So, this is what he did.
Thomas is now operating his business with direct knowledge of how a portion of Atlanta’s youth is living. He is working with local colleges in order to demonstrate how young people can positively impact the community through volunteering and publicly speaking on hot topic issues.
Open Arms Developmental Agency is also working with Morehouse College and Stephensen High School to provide onsite mentoring to students. OADA’s partnership with Morehouse College gets students involved with speaking to local high and middle schools about the importance of continuing education. These presentations also stress the importance of being drug free, developing positive life relationships and understanding the impact that such subjects have on one’s future. Together, Thomas and the college students collectively work to ensure that younger generations have the necessary tools and information to make positive life choices.
Thomas and OADA also volunteer weekly with the Department of Juvenile Justice. They frequent different facilities and mentor and encourage the current inmates.
The future holds incredible possibilities for Thomas and his blossoming charity. He is looking forward to helping his community flourish through OADA by setting up self-help and empowerment clinics. Some of these programs will focus on relationship counseling and self-esteem empowerment. In conjunction with these efforts, Thomas hopes to work with local educational partners to showcase the necessity and importance for continuing and higher education.
Thomas began his journey with the simple aspiration of helping homeless and hungry individuals in Atlanta. Four years later, he has a successful and well-respected charity aimed at helping the entire community and bringing hope-filled futures to many. Thomas is an inspiration, and hopes that by sharing his story, he will kick start others into doing what they can to help their communities.