Tom Demas attended Robert Morris from 1962 to 1964, earning his associate degree in business management. Today, along with his wife, Patricia, he's still using his degree to help others in need.
Tom serves as the president of the Prince of Peace Center in Farrell, a Catholic charity that started out as a soup kitchen; Patricia also works there as a volunteer.
"When I got here, they had an 85% success rate," says Tom, who's now using his business experience to help the charity. “They wanted to do better, but they didn’t have the guidance. That's what I try to give them.”
Prince of Peace provides members in need in their community with life skills. They also provide clothing, help them with interview skills, and teach them parenting skills. Patricia teaches classes on manners and how to write appropriate notes. She also presents programs on different traditions (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.).
Tom first met Patricia at Robert Morris College when they were both students. Their most memorable moments together were attending Thursday night dances in the cafeteria. They've been married for 52 years now and have three grown children.
Back when Tom attended Robert Morris, it was still located in downtown Pittsburgh across from the jail. He chose the school because of its reputation as a business school and because it was affordable and within commuting distance from his hometown of Elwood. He was also impressed by the staff’s experience.
“A lot of them worked in private industries before working for Robert Morris,” says Tom. "That was important."
After graduating, he went on to work for Mellon Bank where he utilized the business skills he learned from Robert Morris. Patricia worked for a radio station where she placed commercials. After her job was eliminated, she went on to work as a dental assistant. Tom retired from banking and now works for a financial consultant doing tax returns.
Together, Tom and Patricia are working to help change lives—something RMU graduates have become known for. As for his work with Prince of Peace, Tom sees it more than just volunteer work. “It’s not a handout anymore,” he says. “It’s a hand up.”
Written by Mindy Castello, senior communications major at RMU