Thomas McCann is almost there.
He’s spent most of his life homeless, and said he wants the cycle to stop with his children.
“I am pretty much homeless and just trying to feed my wife and kids and trying to get into a house as soon as possible,” McCann said. “Around here that’s really hard because we don’t have good credit.”
However, McCann isn’t the type to let adversity cripple him, he said.
“I am actually at the moment subcontracting for a landscaping company in Seattle called American Standard, but my business to become is Celts Lawn Service,” he said, adding that the LLC for Celts Lawn Service is in the works.
He mows and weed-eats, removes blackberries, constructs elements on decks and patios and cleans gutters and roofs, among other services. He said he will do any small job that people will have him do, but cannot do large jobs that require heavy machinery as of yet. The main tools he uses are a mower, weed-eater and leaf blower. Somebody had to donate his lawnmower when he first started, and since then his wages with American Standard have allowed the purchasing of other tools.
Recently, the community has come behind McCann in a big way.
Yelm community member Darnell Nichols met McCann and saw that he was advertising his services with a sign painted on the window of his truck. Attached to the truck was another sign that read, “Hungry for work.”
“I told him I didn’t have any work for him at the time but I was so impressed with his sign,” Nichols said. “Thomas told me about his plans and a bit about his family. I asked him if he was on Facebook and if I could take a picture of him next to his truck and post on a Yelm community page.”
Due to the post, and the community support given in response to it, McCann’s schedule has been packed, letting him inch closer and closer to getting back on his feet to support his family.
“The response from the community has been absolutely amazing,” Nichols said. “Yelm and surrounding-area residents have rallied around this family. I am so proud to live here.”
Before all this, McCann and his wife were doing well for a number of years, McCann said, but two events happened almost simultaneously. McCann’s wife was medically separated from the military in Fort Hood, Texas, and he was diagnosed with emphysema, among other ailments.
“One of the doctors gave me three to five years to live,” McCann said. “One said seven to 10 and another one said to live the rest of my life the best I can. That’s what I’ve been trying to do.”
After the diagnosis, McCann, his wife and two children decided to move to Yelm to be closer to his mother-in-law so that his wife could be close to family if anything should happen to him. Once in Yelm, they put everything they had into securing a place for their family to live.
Now that they were in the house, they had to afford it, and McCann’s wife wanted to go back to school. The military paid for the schooling and also gave them a housing allowance.
“We got here and my wife was going to school,” McCann said. “She was going to the South Seattle College. My wife went to China to teach English for a month. When she got back, we realized that she was pregnant, and could no longer attend school.
“The reason that my wife had to drop out of school is that she was pregnant and she couldn’t attend the classes, and when she had finals, she was in labor. So she failed the semester.”
According to state military standards, the housing allowance was taken away, and because she failed the semester, she was required to pay back the money that was given to her to attend school. After six months in the house, the couple and their now three kids had to move out. The kids, including the four-month-old Sirius, went to live with their grandmother.
Due to all this financial hardship, McCann got a job at Tractor Supply, but the wages weren’t cutting it for everything he had to overcome. So he went to work with his brother-in-law doing landscaping in Seattle.
Despite all his efforts, McCann is back on the street, sleeping in his truck or couchsurfing.
But with his budding business, McCann has high hopes for the future.
“My hopes are to have a legacy for my children, to earn and purchase a house, so they’ll have someplace to be so they will never have to be homeless or without, ever again,” McCann said. “This is all so that when I do succumb to my emphysema, they will have a place to live.
“I want to grow my business, so that when I do pass, it will be structured and ordered and won’t pass into nothing, so that it can continue on until my kids can do something with it. I will hire managers and have my wife run the business from home.”
To contact McCann to employ his services, call 360-349-2441, or find him on Facebook at Celts Lawn Service.