UPDATED: Serving a thousand: Posey prepares for Thanksgiving

Published 7:57 am Saturday, November 18, 2017

By Courtney Zetar

The Orange Leader


When it comes to cooking, Thomas Posey is no stranger in the kitchen.

“Thomas is my full name but I go by Tom, and I’ve been cooking since I was 11 years old,” Tom said.

Tom is preparing for the biggest meal of his life, cooking over 1,000 free meals for Thanksgiving.

Joining the Cajun Army and other volunteers, Tom embraces the opportunity to serve his community the way God intended him to do, which in his words is through food.

“God has given everyone a talent, it’s up to us to use the talent that God has given us for the greater good,” Tom said.

A native of Crowley, LA, Tom’s mother Oza Laverne and grandmother Allis Leger, owned a grocery store, so he was always around food.

Tom was admittedly mischievous kid saying, “I was raised by my mother and grandmother, and when I wouldn’t behave they would make me stand on a chair in front of the stove and stir the pots for dinner.”

Tom grew up with three siblings.

“Emily is the oldest, then there’s me, Lillian, and the youngest is my brother Willie, and we all can cook,” Tom said.

He spent a lot of time learning different cooking techniques from his mother and grandmother. Tom even enjoyed trying older recipes from his great grandmother as well.

The early experience in the kitchen has manifested into a life long passion for food and cooking.

“If you name it I can cook it, but my specialty is cracklin and brisket, I am the brisket King!” Tom said confidently. “I’ve been cooking brisket since I was 17 years old, and the recipe is from my great grandmother and that recipe is over 100 years old.”

Residents of Orange are no stranger to Tom as well.

He has been serving the community of Orange is some capacity for a very long time. Growing up in farming, Tom always wanted to grow crops of his own. As an adult, he intended on being a regular farmer for the reminder of his life.

“I thought I was just going to be Old McDonald and raise goats, hogs, and chickens because I am an animal lover,” Tom said.

Tom began growing watermelon to feed his hogs but after locals noticed the quality of his watermelons he began growing and selling them in the parking lot of Big Lots on MacArthur Drive in Orange.

“I sold watermelon for about a year and everyone kept asking me for other produce so I started growing a wider variety of fruits and vegetables,” Tom said.

After a sweltering summer day of selling produce in the parking lot, Thomas felt sick.

“I was feeling so sick from the heat that the concrete was putting out, and I knew I had to find a better place to sell my goods,” Tom said.

After looking around he noticed a small shaded area near the bridge on MacArthur Drive.

“It was like I was drawn to this tree, I know the owner of the land and asked for what I needed and since then I’ve been doing God’s work from right here,” Tom said.

Tom also takes pictures for children as Santa Clause during the holidays.

“I started doing that about five years ago to help these kids get the things they wanted for Christmas, and once the first year was a success I decided to continue and now it’s evolved into a tradition,” Tom said.

Tom’s love for animals is also present with his dogs.

“Over there is Moon,” Tom said jokingly. “I named him Moon because his sister’s name is Shine.”

He also has four other dogs as well, Snow, Flake, Skin, and Bones.

After turning a small building into a popular local eatery entitled “Oza’s”, named after his mother, Tom experienced a major set back when his building and the entire area of his street was engulfed with over 10 feet of water as a result of Hurricane Harvey.

“Water was about ten feet high and at that point I didn’t know what to do,” Tom said.

It was then that Tom said he heard a clear voice say to him, “Use your talent.”

“I heard that voice just as clear as I hear you or anyone else talking, and my talent is cooking so I started to help by cooking,” Tom said.

Tom cooked for churches, homeless shelters, and anyone within reach that is in need of a meal.

“And then I heard the same voice say to me ‘Feed my children.’ and so I did,” Tom said. “I volunteered with more churches and organizations and that lead me to meeting the Cajun Army.”

The Cajun Army was founded by Chris King in Gonzales, La. during the flood of 2016, Chris rescued a co-worker’s family and soon after was joined by other friends and family members who wanted to help.

Among the volunteers is Allison Duplessis, a native of Gonzales.

“We got flooded out because it rained for three straight days and we ended up getting 50 inches of rain in our area of the state,” Allison said.

After feeling what she describes as ‘flooder’s guilt,’ she joined with the Cajun Army to help those in need.

“The least, the last, the lost, and the lonely is out motto and we help anyone who is in need,” Allison said.

This Thanksgiving both Tom and Allison have a goal of feeding 1000 people.

They will be serving dinners at the American Red Cross located at 3901 Interstate 10 in Orange, on Thanksgiving day.

“So far since the storm, we have joined together and feed over 43,000 people and I don’t want to stop there,” Tom said.

Allison has the same passion and drive about helping others.

“It’s not my work it’s all God’s work and anything he ask of me if I am able to do it I will,” Allison said.

Allison is supported by her husband, Sam Duplessis, with everything she is involved in with the Cajun Army.

“My husband is there for me and we both have a passion for just doing what we can to help anyone,” Allison said.

Tom doesn’t want anyone to feel left out.

“I don’t care if you are rich, poor, lost it all, can’t cook, can cook, or don’t feel like cooking,” Tom said. “We will feed anyone that walks through that door.”

The Cajun Army and Tom are a combination that is without coincidence, especially for Tom.

“God does everything for a reason, even bringing us all together today, but it’s up to us to do what the Lord wants us to do and I’m lead by the Lord period,” Tom said.

Dinners will be served at 10 a.m., until the food is gone, at the American Red Cross located at 3901 Interstate 10 in Orange.

Edited to correct the location of the dinner.