Story

Tony Toema

Coming Up Roses

Tony Toema was at the end of his rope. He had a family with grown children and a florist business delivering to restaurants and nightclubs, but that was not enough for this Egyptian native. Several years of high living brought him down to living on the street. “I had everything, and I lost everything. I was just looking for somewhere to sleep; that’s how I found Central Union Mission,” he says.

“When you don’t have anything, it opens up your heart and mind.” Now a part of the Mission’s Work Program, Tony runs the Mission elevator, cleans and does other jobs while preparing for his future. Relying on past experience as a taxi driver, he recently gained his Commercial Drivers License with a goal to drive for Metro. However, he ran into an unexpected barrier: parking tickets. Before he can use his license, he was required to pay $6,375 for infractions committed by employees in his former company’s cars. He negotiated the fees down to around $3,000—a significant reduction, but no more attainable for a homeless, jobless man. Tony is trying to save money to pay the fines so he can be a professional driver. 

Tony says that at Central Union Mission, he discovered that “God had a plan for my life. I should have been killed or died on the street, but He had more for me.” Central Union Mission is helping Tony regain his independence and employment and restoring his faith.