The mission of Thomas House is to provide a safe, supportive environment and the resources necessary for homeless families with children to remain together while empowering them to become independent and self-sufficient.
Working together, these dedicated individuals saw to it that Thomas House would officially open on April 8, 1987. Sadly, we lost Bernie in April of 2010, but Mary continues to be very involved with Thomas House.
Thomas House does much more than shelter homeless families- we offer them an opportunity to permanently change their lives. Thomas House is a goal oriented, life changing program that offers comprehensive services designed to help families attain permanent housing and self-sufficiency. Last year Over 95% of our residents graduated from our program, 89% moved into their own home and 81% got Full-time employment!
Thomas House exclusively serves homeless families with children, and the parents must be willing and qualified to work. We support approximately 135-150 individuals per year. Our programs have had significant impact in the community.
Thank you for visiting our website; it would be my pleasure to give you a tour of this amazing shelter. If you have any questions or want to schedule a tour, please feel free to contact me directly, my email is Natalie@ThomasHouseShelter.org and my office number is 714-554-0357 Ext. 107.
I look forward to meeting you soon!
Twenty-five years ago, Mary and Bernie Selz, with one magnanimous thought, changed the lives of hundreds of people in Garden Grove and the surrounding areas. This monumental change all started when Mary and Bernie were doing an ordinary task – shopping at the supermarket. When they left the store, they saw a young woman with an infant in her arms and holding a homeless sign. After they put their groceries in the car, they decided to talk to the woman and see what they could do to help her. They learned the young mother was from Oklahoma and had been deserted by her abusive boyfriend.
The Selzs’ kind, sympathetic hearts lept into action. They took this girl to their home for an overnight stay, fed her, and had her call her parents. The next day, they took her to a bus station and paid for her ticket home. A similar scenario repeated itself about three weeks later, and again, Mary and Bernie responded by taking another young woman into their home. How fortunate these young women and the hundreds of families and children who came after them have all been – all because of the Selz’s loving spirit. Their wonderful spirit can probably be summed up by their attitude of: Let’s do something about this problem – Let’s truly love one another.
A month or two after these first two incidents, Mary and Bernie began to discuss with their friends the need to truly help the increasing number of homeless. Many kind and generous friends began to help financially. The owner of an apartment complex in Garden Grove agreed to rent a three-bedroom apartment to house homeless families. This place accommodated three families at a time and enabled them to get off the streets, get showers, and be safe for three days.
Thomas House Temporary Shelter was founded in 1987 for the specific purpose of assisting homeless families with children. In 2003 Thomas House purchased a two-building complex with 18 apartments and room for expansion. Since 1987, Thomas House has now served over 1000 families. We expect to serve approximately 150 individuals this year.
Thanks to the R.C. Hoiles Memorial Award presented to Thomas House in 1990, along with the support of the City of Garden Grove, Mary and Bernie, and other dedicated board members, Thomas House was able to expand our vision and now provides not only temporary shelter, but also many additional programs to assist the families.
The length of stay for Thomas House clients is now approximately nine to twelve months. In addition to meeting basic needs, some of the services we provide are: case management, on-site employment counseling, job search assistance, housing and transportation assistance, independent living skills training, counseling, after-school program and former resident outreach program.
Mary and Bernie did not simply begin the program. Over the years they both continued to generously and actively serve the homeless families at Thomas House. The seed was germinated by them and has grown and continues to flourish today. Their sincere love for others has impressed and motivated many more people to follow in their footsteps.
Mary, and Bernie before his passing in 2010, received many awards on behalf of Thomas House Temporary Shelter from Home Aid Orange County, Pacific Care Foundation Commendation, Nestle USA Silver Bowl, Sate Senate of California, Interfaith Spirit Action Award and Orange County Board of Supervisors just to name a few. In 2008, Bernie was honored to be Garden Grove’s Man of the Year.