August 2012

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Protecting Adults, Willing to ‘Go Anywhere’

Terrence Thom says his job is rewarding.


Caseworker Terrence Thom of Adult Protective Services is responsible for representing the interests of a certain set of clients: hoarders. “We do a lot of eviction protection,” he said in an interview outside his downtown Brooklyn office building. “So we do financial management.”

People like Thom not only do home visits, helping to clean out clients’ residences, but also represent them in court to help them get proper guardians and legal protections. “Basically, APS represents anyone over the age of 18 with mental or physical impairments,” he explained.

Thom works closely with psychiatrists, who treat the clients and suggest how the agency should work with them. “We go out with them,” Thom said of the psychiatrists.

Thom, who has been working in APS since 1999, said that he has learned a lot about mental illnesses while on the job. “It can happen to anyone, regardless of status,” he said. “We see all types of people.”

This makes each day on the job unpredictable, and Thom never knows what to expect when he meets a client for the first time or enters a home.

“You have to have no fear,” Thom said. “Once you have no fear, you’ll go anywhere.”

It’s a lot of work, but he unwinds by working nights as a vendor at both Yankee Stadium and Madison Square Garden. “That’s a stress buster for me,” he said.

But, he added that the work itself is very rewarding. “When you resolve a case,” Thom said, “it makes you feel good.”

Social Service Employees Union Local 371
817 Broadway, New York, NY 10003