Father Asks For Help In Saying Thanks
Nov 25th, 2014
This was originally posted on azcentral.com – it was such a great story, that we wanted to share it with you!
Laurie Roberts, columnist | azcentral.com
It seems a good week for giving thanks, so I thought I’d give Tom Bieri a hand with that.
Tom is a Scottsdale resident, a guy who has raised eight kids. Like so many parents, there’s always one who keeps him up at night.
One who seems a bit more fragile than the others, more easily bruised.
His son is 19 now.
“He’s a good kid who doesn’t smoke, drink, do drugs or even energy drinks. He loves guitars and learning history but has had a hard time in life because of bullying at school. His mom has been in and out of prison his whole life, as he was even born in prison, addicted to his mom’s street drugs. So he’s a little different, but not to me. He is my hero.”
Tom’s son was a loner in school, never had many friends. He got decent grades and had good attendance but he lacked the confidence that he’d ever amount to much. Tom channeled him into music and says he’s got talent.
Then during his senior year in high school, he was injured in a car accident and missed enough school that he didn’t graduate. He gained weight and since then, he’s mostly holed up in his room, his dad says, playing his guitar and video games, reading about history on the internet and letting life pass him by.
Tom tried everything he could think of to help his son break out of his shell. He found him a job as a cashier but the boy was overwhelmed. He got him into weight training and for a while his son responded. For a while.
When he stopped playing his guitar this summer, Tom knew he needed help to help his son.
Tom shops at the Albertsons at Hayden and Indian Bend. He goes there every day and he’s noticed that the store has a number of employees with special needs. He’s noticed how they’re treated with respect and kindness, how each has blossomed over time and how they, in turn, make customers happy.
Tom says there’s a special feel to this store so in September, he asked the store manager if they needed help.
Six weeks later, Tom says his son has awakened with purpose and goals and a feeling that maybe he has something to offer. He’s a courtesy clerk now but Tom says he’s already talking about what he can do to rise in the ranks.
“He’s smiling again and it’s not just having a job,” Tom says. “It’s the store director and Russell (the manager) that runs the front end and the other employees.”
Bruce Franz, the store manager, says they didn’t do anything special.
“We give everybody a chance,” he told me. “Whatever we can do to help.”
Which is, of course, something special.
In this world, people get left behind. We all have handicaps, some of us just hide them better than others. We all, on occasion, need help finding our way.
And sometimes, it seems, that path runs through the aisles of a grocery — one that offers a fine selection of turkeys and trimmings. And people.
“They gave my son a chance at life,” Tom says. “A chance to show his smile and qualities, a chance to become a member of the community and feel his self-worth. To give back, to have a dream, a goal, to become a regular person.”