In partnership with AdventHealth for Women, we’re recognizing some of the women in our community who are selflessly giving to others while raising families, supporting their loved ones and building their careers. Whether they know it or not, their stories inspire other women in their shoes.
For more than 15 years, Thelisha Thomas has been an advocate and leader in providing health services for children, women and disabled individuals within underserved communities in Seminole County. Most recently, as the executive director for the Healthy Start Coalition, she had a hand in ensuring that several local pregnant women in need of services were able to survive an economically trying 2020. Through the organization of holiday food and supplies giveaways, hundreds of families received diapers, food, gifts and health services that they would have otherwise not have been able to access.
What is your WHY?
My why is to make others happy! I want to help my community; make things better for those that come after me. When I had to write a paper for grad school, I focused on the standard obituary and that simple dash between the birth and death dates. I really want my DASH to mean something. I want to leave good memories with families and friends. I also want my peers, families and individuals that I’ve come into contact with over the years to say, “Thelisha was a hoot!” – laugh and recall something funny or something good that I did. To help others and make someone happy, even if it was for a short period of time. I want my son to be super proud of his mom, present and future, and that I was a “good human.”
On your toughest of days, what motivates you to put one foot in front of the other?
Before my son was born, I would say the quality instilled in me from childhood: that you just DON’T quit – you never give up! Go over, go around, go through, but don’t quit!! Now, my son drives me to ensure I CANT quit…I WON’T!!!
Have you drawn inspiration from other women? Tell us about someone who has inspired you.
There’s a dozen or more strong women that I have been blessed to cross paths with over the years – family and friends. My mother, hands down, is my everything. Her life and how she has carried herself through this thing we call LIFE. The ups and downs – she has provided me a road map on how to maneuver. I also look and listen on how her family, friends, church members and past students speak of her, about her and to her. She’s one classy lady!
What is the one word that perfectly explains who you are?
Would you change anything about how you have handled challenges or successes thus far in your life?
I wouldn’t change a thing! I truly believe everything happens for a reason. All were lessons that molded and/or prepared me to keep moving forward. We help others by using our experiences, good AND bad.
What are you most proud of?
My son. My greatest gift and accomplishment. He reminds me that the future is still bright – the innocence of being better.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it?
Being a professional single mother. Things can be scary and difficult. Others have walked similar paths and done great things. I can do all things and there isn’t a cheat sheet to help you be a perfect mother. Do the best that you can, lean on those true support systems and enjoy the ride. All of this is temporary.