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Former client credits Devereux’s Gwen Skinner with helping him thrive


Stacy Thomas (pictured above with his mother), who was placed with Devereux Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner and her husband, Pat, when he was 14, credits the Skinners with helping him become the man he is today.

“Ms. Skinner and her husband looked beyond my faults and saw what I needed. I remember feeling like I was part of their family – they taught and nurtured me.”
  – Stacy Thomas, former client

Since the late 1980s, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Vice President of Operations Gwen Skinner and her husband, Pat, have provided a safe, stable and supportive home for more than 40 foster children. In addition, Skinner served as a case manager for other clients, including Stacy, when he was 14 years old.

“I was a kid whose mother did all she could, but I was just too much to handle,” Stacy shared. “If it were not for Ms. Skinner seeing something in me, I would have ended up in jail. She literally saved my life. She took me under her wing and showed me what it meant to treat people well.”

Skinner noted, “Stacy was a sweet kid with a big smile and a lot of potential. We had an opportunity to make a meaningful and positive difference in his life. We are thrilled to learn about all he has accomplished over the years – it is wonderful to know he is doing so well.”

Following dreams

As Stacy grew older, he went on to become a manager at various restaurants and retail stores across the country.

He also became interested in civil rights, volunteering at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).

“In 1992, I decided I wanted to work with at-risk youth, so I walked into the office of civil rights leader Rev. Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, who founded the SCLC, and told him want I wanted to do,” Stacy explained. “He took me across the hall to meet with his director of youth at the SCLC. For years, I had the opportunity to work with some dynamic young people, and meet U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Rev. Ambassador Andrew Young, Xernona Clayton Brady, Coretta Scott King and other civil rights icons.”

Overcoming challenges

While Stacy has experienced some hardships over the years, including a case of double pneumonia that left him unable to stand on his feet for more than a few minutes at a time, he has a positive outlook on life and credits the Skinners with helping him become the man he is today.

“I often think about Ms. Skinner and all she did for me,” Stacy said. “I have always wanted to get up in front of a crowd of her peers, salute her and let her know how great of a job she did.”

Learn more about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health.


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