Parker Thomson speaks from experience when he works with young adults who are at risk of homelessness.
Thomson, who joined Housing Assistance in March as a homeless youth peer mentor, spent part of his childhood in foster care and was homeless as a young adult.
“I know what it’s like to struggle with not knowing where to go next and how to stay afloat,” he said. “I hope I can use my experience to provide resources to youth who are going through similar challenges.”
Thomson grew up on Cape Cod in what he calls “a very unstable household.” He went into foster care when he was in fourth and fifth grade, returned to his parents’ home, and went back into foster care when he was a sophomore at Falmouth High School.
“I was skipping classes. I was hanging out with the wrong crowd. I was a kid on the wrong path,” he said.
His new foster father was a good mentor, but Thomson said he still lacked self-discipline and struggled when he went to Worcester State College without a solid support system. He transferred to Valley Forge Military College, where he thrived for a while before struggling with emotional challenges and leaving school.
He returned to Cape Cod, but after a car accident, he was without transportation and lost his job. Unable to pay for an apartment, he went to the Bay Cove crisis center in Hyannis and was referred to the Champ Homes shelter in Hyannis.
“That gave me some room to breathe and restructure my life,” he said. While there, he heard about the Youth Action Board, part of Barnstable County’s Regional Network on Homelessness, and became a volunteer. “The Youth Action Board really resonated with me as a chance to make an impact, so that people don’t have to go down the same road I did.”
His volunteer work led a Housing Assistance case worker to recommend Thomson for his new job. In addition to facilitating meetings of the Youth Action Board, he works as a liaison between case workers and clients aged 18 to 25.
“I let them know they’re not alone in the process of finding housing,” he said. “I don’t want to lead people to their goals. I don’t want to push people into their goals. I want to walk alongside them to get there.”