• Lauren laurenk@refugeefora.org

Team Spotlight: Thomas

By Samantha Halbower //


Thomas O’Connor is a freshman at Amherst College, living in Chicago, Illinois. Thomas started volunteering at FORA when the organization was just starting out. FORA is the first organization where Thomas has consistently volunteered. “I never thought of myself as a tutor, although I have always tried to help my brother and sister with their homework and stuff like that,” Thomas recalled. After coming to FORA, Thomas quickly adapted to his new role as a tutor. When talking about his kids, Thomas says, “Their smiles are contagious, I love being around them.” Thomas has known some kids in the program for five or six years, many of whom he's become good friends with. Thomas loves watching his kids grow and develop as people and students. Thomas has helped so many people, Thomas said “Being able to know I was part of the change makes me happy, it's very fulfilling.”


In his free time, Thomas enjoys spending time with his family and friends. Thomas has two younger siblings, Claire and Daniel. “They drive me crazy, but I love them very much,” Thomas said. Thomas also has a dog named Sandy who sleeps with him every night.

Thomas also loves spending time outdoors. Most mornings when Thomas does not have homework, Thomas goes birdwatching. In the Summer Thomas also runs and hikes. “I usually have to drag my Mom or my Dad out of bed to go hiking with me,” Thomas said.


Thomas has always had a passion for assisting people. When asked where he got his passion Thomas responded, “My Mom and my Dad have really instilled in me a love of helping people, that's why I really enjoy working at FORA so much.” In addition to FORA, Thomas is also interested in science. Thomas wants to go into a field where he can incorporate science as well as the tools he's learned from FORA. “Anyway, I can help people in my life. It is very fulfilling, I hope to do that in the future.”


When asked about his favorite memory at FORA, Thomas recalled when the organization was just starting out. Thomas remembers being surrounded by all the new tutors in one room. Thomas reflected on the joy and anticipation he felt, “We knew there was a lot of work to be done, we had no idea if it would work or not, but now four years later it’s grown to something that is so big and has touched so many people.”


As a part of volunteering, Thomas has learned the value of patience. Thomas states,

“Being the son of the two co-founders, I would often get the more troublesome kids. However, being able to work with these kids has taught me they are a ton of fun and even though they drive me crazy sometimes, they have definitely taught me to be more patient. I learned new things I never thought possible.”











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