In 2018, a staff member helped Tom respond to a Facebook metalsmithing group. It was through this Facebook group, that Tom was connected with his new friend and mentor, Debbie, a jewelry artisan in Clermont, Florida. When she learned of Tom and his love for jewelry, she wanted to send him some supplies to get him started and to foster his passion for creating wearable art. Debbie would spend countless hours giving advice and education on various jewelry, metalsmithing, and metal clay techniques. She provided him with the means to really expand and grow his own jewelry design, so much so in that he was actually commissioned to do a piece for Miss Kansas for her Miss America competition late 2019.
Tom and Debbie’s friendship continues to grow through texts, emails and Facetime visits. Last year, Tom was able to go to Florida for his 30th birthday and meet this wonderful lady in person! Tom and Debbie have formed a truly unique and beautiful friendship; one that has given Tom a feeling of acceptance and self-worth. We can’t wait to see where Tom’s creativity will take him in the future!