Two classic television stars visited Central Texas to raise money for the Homeless Vets Program at Temple’s Veterans Affairs Hospital.
Bernadette Stanis, known for playing Thelma in classic tv show “Good Times”, and Ernest Thomas, known for his roles as Raj from “What’s Happening” and Mr. Omar in “Everybody Hates Chris”, signed autographs and took pictures with fans as part of their book tour. A representative for the two said a portion of the proceeds from the two day event in Temple will go towards finding homes for homeless vets.
“It’s winter time and when they have no home or anything like that, it hurts,” Stanis said. “They’ve done their best for their country. And I think we who haven’t served should do as much as we can to support them in every way that we can.”
Thomas, who also has veteran family members, agrees with that sentiment. He said there is not enough support and resources for those who are risking their lives, limbs and minds to protect the American people.
“I think it’ s a crime for any veteran to be homeless, to be without food or medicine, to be stranded and wonder what’s going on,” Thomas said.
According to statistics released by the VA in the State of Veteran Homelessness 2017 report, veteran homelessness decreased by 17 percent between 2015 and 2016. The report also states that since 2010, the VA’s homeless veteran programs and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have helped provide housing to 123,000 veterans and their family members. However, about 40,000 veterans still need a place to call home.
“It literally breaks my heart to think that you’ve been out there in Desert Storm, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and you come back and there’s nothing for you,” Thomas said. “...especially when it’s freezing and cold out there, I get angry. I get enraged.”
In addition to raising awareness about veteran homelessness, the Stanis and Thomas greeted fans while promoting their books. Stanis’ autobiography, “The Last Night”, showcases her years as a caregiver for her mother who suffered from alzheimer’s disease. Thomas said his book, “ From Raj to Riches”, displays his testimony of faith and how God performs miracles today.
The two greeted starstruck fans with smiles, but they say their veteran fans bring joy into their lives as well.
“Just seeing all the vets and everything just warms my heart,” Stanis said.
Thomas said he appreciates the ability to meet vets and thank them for their service. He said, “It’s a joy because what they do is priceless. What they’ve done is priceless.”
For more information on the VA’s homeless veteran programs, visit their website: https://www.va.gov/homeless/