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“Experiencing the healing work that happens in the community of CooperRiis is one of the highlights of my life. I am surrounded by an amazing community full of people who are gentle, kind and honest in the work we share. I am aware of much that I do not know, but with each day I am using my strengths to put my values into action and get a little closer to my goals, in the same way I support my residents, one step at a time.

From 2001-2005, Tom studied, worked and engaged with service opportunities at Warren Wilson College and earned his Religious Studies Degree in 2005.

After his undergraduate experience he stayed on and supervised the crew he worked on when he was a student, the Custodial Services crew (aka Heavy Duty Crew). “Supporting these students in learning a trade and keeping our buildings clean was one aspect of that job. The other way I found myself contributing to student success was as a mentor. I was there to notice their growth and progress, and their breakdowns, sad times, break-ups and slumps. Soon I started to realize that supporting the students on my crew emotionally and relationally was my calling.”

Tom enrolled in the Graduate Degree Program in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Montreat College, NC, and graduated in 2018. “Within four years of enrolling in grad school, I had a degree, a job at CooperRiis therapeutic community that shares my core values of recovery, respect and dignity, and I am working toward licensure.”

Tom is also a traditional Appalachian-style broom maker, creating whisk brooms, hearth brooms, classic upright brooms, and all type of dusters. He and his family live near Asheville.

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