The Bryce Thurlow Fund
We invite you to join us and give to support the Guesthouse with a gift to the Bryce Thurlow Fund. Donations to the Fund will help homeless men, women, and children in our local area in the hope that someday no one in our communities would be homeless.
Who was Bryce and why is this such a special fund?On the evening of February 22nd, 2018 we were contacted by Rebecca Mahar who wrote:
Hi. My name is Rebecca. My 21 year-old son (Bryce Thurlow) just passed away Jan 13 2018 .We set up a go-fund me page for Bryce and raised enough money that we would like to come to visit the Guesthouse to make a $500.00 donation to your shelter. Bryce basically lived in Southbridge his whole life and the past two years had short periods of time being homeless in between roommates. He tried to get into a shelter but it always seemed to be full or due to his job being 2nd or 3rd shift hours most shelters had times where u had to be in at night. Bryce spent some nights and days on the streets and felt if more ppl gave money to shelters maybe they would have more beds for ppl. So we would like to meet with you to give u a check in Bryce’s memory.
Reading this brought tears to our eyes. We were so touched and grateful. So Rebecca and her family came to visit the Guesthouse and we talked about Bryce, his death, and homelessness in our area.
St. Luke’s: Please accept our condolences on Bryce’s recent passing. What happened to Bryce?
Rebecca (Bryce’s Mother): We don’t know yet what happened. He died in his sleep. I talked to him Friday night and he seemed fine. He was staying with friends and they found him Saturday morning. On Friday he had been with one of his friends at Cumberland Farms in Southbridge and pushed him up Main Street in his wheelchair. Bryce complained of chest pain. He told his friends that he was just gonna go to bed and see if he felt better in the morning. Saturday morning I got a call from the cops to come down to the hospital. Bryce had been in Harrington several times. I thought it was his bipolar again—I never imagined that he had passed. Sounds like he had a heart attack. There’s an autopsy being done. We heard that the toxicology was negative. It wasn’t drugs or anything. We just don’t know yet. Bryce had trouble in school because of bipolar and ADD. He just didn’t fit the mold in school. He was not a bad kid; he was very bright. He just had to do things his way. But recently Bryce was happier than he’d been in a while. He was working at Walmart in Sturbridge. He loved Walmart! He said, “I feel like I’m accomplishing stuff.” The night before he died he was asking how much I thought he would get back from his taxes. He didn’t seem depressed. He struggled through so many things in his life but he was doing so much better.
Russ (Bryce’s Stepfather): He was on the streets a couple of times but he was really coming around. A bunch of the people he worked with at Walmart showed up at his funeral in their smocks and put their “Walmart appreciates you” bands on his urn.
St. Luke’s: I understand that you didn’t have the money for Bryce’s funeral and set up a G-Fund-Me campaign.
Phil (Bryce’s Father): That’s right. We set up a Go-Fund-Me site and lots of family and friends donated. But then on the day of the memorial service we went out back at the funeral home to talk to Elaine Sancoucy . She said an anonymous person had approached her to cover the entire cost of the funeral. But we had all this money from the Go-Fund-Me to help us. We weren’t going to just party on it. So we came up with the idea of helping the hospital, the Wells Center and the Guesthouse.
St. Luke’s: What made you think about the Guesthouse?
Rebecca: Bryce had gone times where he was homeless. He said more than once “People don’t understand, Mom, they’re not all junkies. You’ve got to respect them.” He got judged so much for the way he acted and the way he looked. At one point he had purple Mohawk. He was a smart kid but people judged him. Bryce said, “I will never be like that, I’ll never look down at someone and say: ‘You have no shoes.’ I’d say: ‘Here, have my shoes.’” Bryce was so generous.
Bryce was always one to help someone else. If he knew someone was having a hard time and homeless, he’d give up his own bed and say, “Ok dude, I’ve slept on the streets before so you go ahead and stay there and I’ll just stay on the streets.” If he was staying at a shelter he’d just stay a couple of days and then leave to make room for someone else. When he was living at home he was always saying, “There’s this kid I went to school with back in elementary school, he’s homeless, can we let him stay with us?” He would have a sandwich and come across a kid who would say, “Aww, I’m so hungry!” So Bryce would say: “Here you go.”
There was one night that he and a friend were homeless. They were walking around and the police kept running into them on the street. “What are you guys doing? What trouble are you getting into?”
“We’re not, we have no place to sleep and it’s too cold to sit so we’re just walking around to stay warm,” they said. The police actually got them a motel room that night. That was really cool that they did that for Bryce and his friend.
St. Luke’s: It sounds like Bryce had a real heart for the homeless. He knew what it was like to be on the streets.
Rebecca: Yes, he said, “Mom, it’s so unfair—so many people are homeless.” it really upset Bryce that there weren’t any local shelters. He would say, “You see much about animal shelters—how come you don’t see about local homeless shelters? There’s nothing around. When I was homeless, they’d tell me to get to Worcester. But I would have no way to get there.” It sucks that we are in a world that stuff like this has to happen. Why does it take for somebody to die for people to realize there’s a problem?
Phil: Bryce would be so happy to know that Southbridge now has a homeless shelter. We just really appreciate having this here in town.
Rebecca: Yes, Bryce would be so grateful. I’m sure he’s definitely loving the fact that we’re making this donation to the Guesthouse. Now that he is gone from this earth it’s warming to have been able to donate money to the Guesthouse in his honor. I am truly hopeful his story and words will reach into people’s hearts and they will see the true need to help and give to their community. The need is so great, so many people are homeless due to whatever circumstances. These are sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, grandparents, even old childhood friends. Everyone knows someone who is homeless even if they don’t realize it!
St. Luke’s: So true, Rebecca. What would you think about setting up a fund in Bryce’s memory to help the Guesthouse?
Rebecca: He would love that. Helping other people was always so important to him.
Please join us in remembering Bryce and
to help the work of St. Luke’s Guesthouse.
(click the green button on the top right of this page put “Bryce’s Fund” in the donation memo.)
The Thurlow/Mahar families presenting their donation to the Guesthouse.