In 2004, Debra Thomas founded New Directions Community Outreach (NDCO) to combat the growing rate of homelessness in central Florida by helping individuals and families achieve self-sufficiency through housing, financial assistance and educational programs.
Through NDOC, Thomas had held homebuyer’s seminars aimed at helping people obtain permanent residence for the first time. Additionally, the organization has established an outreach pantry that distributes soup, sack meals, baby food, hot chocolate, lemonade and other nourishing items throughout local homeless camps.
Not only does Thomas’s organization provide critical services and programs, but also she holds events that enrich the lives of the indigent, beyond simply the bare necessities like an annual Easter egg hunt, which provides children the opportunity to experience the joy of the holiday. For many, holidays are a special and joyous time spent with family and friends. However, for those who are homeless, poor, and living in poverty, holidays can be a painful and lonely time. This is why NDCO makes it a point to prepare special celebrations during the holidays.
Thomas’s passion to help the downtrodden and needy comes from her personal experience with destitution. Seventeen years ago, unfavorable circumstances befell Debra herself. Impoverished and homeless, she found herself living in different family homes with her infant daughter.
At this despondent point in time, Thomas asked for God’s blessing to make a better life for herself. She then made a solemn vow to God, in turn, to become a blessing to others once she was on her feet again and able. This promise became the essential impellent for Thomas’s purpose in life.
Thomas founded NDOC.- originally penned The Alpha Training of Seminole County- as a small means of support for those who could not support themselves. At the inception, Thomas and members of her family cooked extra food for every holiday and donated canned goods and blankets whenever possible. Before long, more friends and family became involved, and the fledgling program sprang to life.
Thomas is not only an advocate for the homeless, but also she serves as a board of member for the Golden Rule Organization and has served as the former vice president for Seminole Community Association for Progress. In addition to all this, she is actively involved in Team Resource, Project Homeless Connect and Give Kids Back Packs.