Thomas Streicher obtained his PH.D. in Psychology at Saybrook University in San Francisco, California. He has obtained his MA degree in Transpersonal Psychology at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California in 2005. He obtained his BA degree in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento in 1999. Thomas also obtained an AS degree in business management from Moorpark College, California in 1984 and established his own general building contractor business as a state licensed contractor and builder. Thomas had started his advanced education degrees in 1974 and has attended many different schools of higher learning, including the University of Wisconsin, California Lutheran College, Oregon Community College, Ventura College, California State University, Sierra College, Moorpark College, and The Hazelden Foundation, Center City, Minnesota.
Thomas Streicher is the founder and director of a California non-profit public benefit corporation named Divine Spark, Inc. (2002). The specific purposes for which this corporation is organized are to provide support, counseling and guidance for the needy without regard to gender, race, creed, age or calling, and to activate the divine spark within each of them. Presently, Thomas is involved with the homeless in Nevada County, California. He also provides services to the Native Americans living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota where he has delivered thousands of pounds of food, sewing machines for quilt making, and clothing along with general assistance.
Since 1994, Thomas Streicher has provided free volunteer services to persons in need through organizations such as Nevada County Substance Abuse Center, Lovett Recovery Center, Head Start Preschool program, Sierra Foothills Aids Foundation, Community Recovery Services, and the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology Spiritual Guidance Program. Thomas is of service to his community and has also attended over two thousand meetings concerning addiction recovery in 12-step programs such as Alcoholics Anonymous, AI-Anon, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous, and Co-dependence Anonymous.
Thomas has also served in the United States Marine Corps and was on active duty from 1973 through 1975. He had obtained four meritorious promotions up to the rank of sergeant by the time of his honorable discharge in 1975. These meritorious promotions were based upon his outstanding performance of duty including academic achievements, administrative skills, teaching and training skills, physical fitness achievement awards, off-duty educational advancement, and ability to effectively communicate with personnel.
Thomas draws on a deep sense of spirituality to furnish the motivation for his goals. His spirituality is non-denominational, and derives from the bond that he feels with his fellow creatures. He is a concerned environmental activist and chooses to utilize public transportation along with his bicycle to get where he needs to go. Thomas enjoys being a parent and spending quality time with his three adult daughters. He also enjoys his extensive travels throughout Europe and especially Austria where he lives one month of the year. ~~
THE SPIRIT OF GIVING
Non-profit gives those on the fringes a sense of hope
By Scott Gilbert
For the Nevada City Advocate
Thomas Streicher says he loves helping feed those in need, but you need to see him in action to get a sense of just how important it is to him.
Whether he is urging someone to take more spaghetti or strumming his guitar while folks eat that spaghetti, his joy and passion infuse a project that has just as many problems and obstacles as you might expect.
Thomas Streicher, the founder of Divine Spark, enjoys some dog time outside the Nevada City Veterans Hall where his organization feeds the hungry five days a week.
Photo by Scot Gilbert
Streicher's organization, Divine Spark, serves a free meal five days a week at 1:15 p.m. at the Veterans Hall on Commercial Street in Nevada City. The non-profit started as a project to help the Lakota Sioux in South Dakota, but in the past five years has grown to fill an important need in Nevada City.
Beginning by serving just one meal a week, Streicher and his volunteers now provide lunch for up to 250 people a week, as well as offering other crucial services to those living on the fringes.
A visit to one of the lunches at the Veterans Hall reveals a group of people in a fairly wide variety of circumstance, but all of them are happy to have a hot meal.
Some hurry in and eat quickly, remaining as anonymous as they can. Others are eager to tell you their story. According to Streicher, almost everyone is a local with family or connections in this area.
The most common refrain is gratitude for what Streicher and Divine Spark are doing.
Chiropractor Rich Oberleitner volunteers when he has the time. He serves food with a smile on his face, which fits in great with the generally positive atmosphere at the meals.
"Feeding people is the most basic kind of service," Oberleitner says.
Some of the folks Divine Spark helps have drug problems, some are clearly sleeping rough, and some fit the homeless stereotype fairly well. Others, however, are working or recently laid off, have places to stay, and just need a little bit of help to get through a rough patch.
Besides food and donated items like blankets, dog food and assistance for pets are highly prized. One man insists that any article that doesn't include the story of how Streicher got his dog free veterinary care isn't worth writing. Another man is just grateful that someone is paying any attention at all.
Streicher focuses on helping people in need, whatever that need is. He says he "doesn't want to get politically involved. I want to remain service-oriented."
But he was a sergeant in the Marines and can be tough when it comes to what he thinks is right. This past summer he tried (unsuccessfully) to get the Nevada City Council to reduce the rent Divine Spark pays for its five hours a week in the Veterans Hall, and he was willing to ruffle some feathers along the way.
But when he grabs his guitar and gleefully says "anybody want some music with their food?" you know that he is going to keep helping people in need, and doing it with joy, no matter what.
Christmas Celebration set for Dec. 24-25, 2010, Divine Spark will hold its annual Nevada City Community Christmas Celebration from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Dec. 24 - 25 at the Nevada City Veterans Hall. The celebration wil1 include live music and dinner. Divine Spark also serves free meals for one hour beginning at 1: 15 p.m. on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at the Veterans Hall at North Pine and Cottage streets. If you would like to volunteer, make a contribution or learn more about this organization, visit www.divinespark.us.