A Q&A With Hope Haven’s Clay Thomas
MEET CLAY THOMAS
Executive director, Abilene Hope Haven, Inc., Nov. 1, 2021-present
2018-2021 – Executive director at Girls’ Haven, Inc. in Beaumont
2015-2018 – Executive director at Arrow Child & Family Ministries in Amarillo
2014-2015 – Superintendent at Brazos County Juvenile Services in Bryan/College Station
2010-2014 – Vice president at Amarillo Children’s Home
2007-2010 – Deputy superintendent at Randall County Juvenile Services in Amarillo, Texas
Family: Married 19 years, five children (three girls, including one adopted daughter, and two sons)
By LORETTA FULTON
Accepting the position of executive director of Abilene Hope Haven caused Clay Thomas to shift gears just a bit, but not a whole lot.
For the past 20-plus years, he worked in juvenile services in Randall County (Amarillo) and Brazoria County (Bryan/College Station) and with children’s homes. His clientele is a little different at Hope Haven, but the basic job is the same–caring for those in need.
“I’ve always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate and vulnerable,” Thomas said.
Thomas was named executive director of Hope Haven effective Nov. 1, 2021, and since then has been busy meeting people in Abilene, running the daily operations of the facility at 801 S. Treadaway Blvd., and shaping its future. The first “A Night of Inspiring Hope” banquet was held March 29.
He currently is looking for church groups to host weekly Bible classes and worship sessions at the shelter. Anyone interested can contact Thomas at 677-4673 or use the email form on the website, www.abilenehopehaven.org
Most recently, Thomas was executive director at Girls’ Haven, a foster care facility in Beaumont, A native of the southeast Texas community of Garrison, Thomas has spent years in both East and West Texas. Prior to the move to Beaumont, he spent 11 years with three agencies in Amarillo.
Thomas is well-qualified for his new job, with an associate degree in law enforcement, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and a master’s degree in criminal justice. Thomas has been married for 19 years. He and his wife have five children. One son is 15 and the other children are adults.
Following is a Q&A with Thomas:
Q What led you to become involved in the type work you’re doing now?
A I currently have education in psychology & criminal justice. I have spent the past 20 plus-years working in juvenile and social services including non-profit work. I’ve always had a passion for helping those who are less fortunate and vulnerable.
Q What did you find attractive about the Abilene position?
A Abilene is a community of partnership when it comes to helping the less fortunate and vulnerable. I wanted to join that coalition and participate in the efforts to continue to improve this community. My family and I lived in Amarillo for nearly 15 years and have been familiar with West Texas. I’ve done my best work in nonprofit in West Texas.
Q Do you have any immediate plans for changes at Hope Haven?
A As of right now, our leadership team is assessing the Abilene Hope Haven programs to ensure that it is meeting the needs for this community.
Q What do you see as the most pressing immediate need?
A Additional housing/beds for the shelter is needed.
Q Do you have any long-term plans for Hope Haven?
A Brief discussions have occurred about the possibility of expanding our current shelter and/or perhaps adding a new facility with additional beds.
“Hope Haven’s mission is to Inspire Hope in our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness. While the homeless crisis will never completely end, we believe that we can make homeless rare, brief and nonrecurring in this community. Hope Haven’s goal is to work to provide that hope for this community and its neighbors.”
Loretta Fulton is editor of Spirit of Abilene