Organization helps homeless man, gets help in return - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Organization helps homeless man, gets help in return

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) -We often tell you about the organizations that help people living in Arkansas and Missouri, but one man who is living at the Salvation Army Shelter is not only receiving help. He's is giving it too!  Richard Tome owned a florist business in Maryland for 36 years. 

After retiring, he moved down south and ended up in Jonesboro.  Some bad luck landed him in need of a place to live.  Now he's going back to what he knows and sharing it.

Bows, lights, flowers, and product decorate the front windows of the Salvation Army Family Store in Jonesboro. 

"She said it would be so nice to have some Christmas decorations and I thought, ‘I can do that'," said Richard Tome.

Richard moved into the shelter in August, by October he suffered a heart attack and had to undergo a triple bypass.

"Two weeks after my bypass I started working and over the process of a month we decorated the store for Christmas," said Tome.

"I am just so proud of all the decorations that Richard has done for this store," said store manager Janice Orr.

Richard is one of many who call the Salvation Army shelter "home."

"I had this very bad perception of a homeless shelter until I actually became homeless," said Tome.

Now he is using his bad fortune over the past couple of months to help others.

"It's just wonderful that they try to give back to the community when we help them," said Orr.

"If somebody had have told me ten years ago I was going to end up where I am at, I would have said you're crazy," said Tome.

He's not alone.  The number of people asking for help seems to be growing.

"We've had families come in there who have lost everything," said Tome.

"We are seeing more everyday that need help.  We are just overwhelmed with vouchers on Tuesday and Thursday at our Fisher Street store," said Orr.

Orr said Richard has spent a lot of his own money in decorating the store!

"Richard actually used to shop in our store and when he got his trouble and moved into the shelter he has always volunteered," said Orr.

"That's one of the reasons I now call Jonesboro home is because people care about each other here," said Tome.

Tome said the Salvation Army allows folks who are living there and working to live there for up to two years to give them time to get on their feet.

"I have no idea how long I'll be here but as long as I am I'm going to be helping out and doing what I can," said Tome.

Copyright 2011 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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