Born Fabulous

Episode 12, Part 4 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Tim Blooms and Grows Up!

June 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 12
Born Fabulous
Episode 12, Part 4 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Tim Blooms and Grows Up!
Chapters
Born Fabulous
Episode 12, Part 4 - Interview with Jeannie Harris - Tim Blooms and Grows Up!
Jun 13, 2019 Season 1 Episode 12
Greta Harrison / Jeannie Harris
Jeannie Harris discusses her son Tim Harris's high school years, college years, and beyond.
Show Notes Transcript

Jeannie Harris discusses her son Tim's transition years in high school, his college experience, and  his successful life now. Tim is famous for owning Tim's Place, a restaurant that listed hugs on the menu. Tim has travelled extensively with his speaking career, meeting many wonderful people like President and Mrs. Obama. Tim happens to have Down syndrome. 



Speaker 1:
0:01
Hello. My name is Greta Harrison. Welcome to born fabulous where we speak with parents and accomplished individuals who just happen to have disabilities. You are about to hear episode 12 which is the fourth of a five part interview with Jeannie Harris. Janie is the mother of Tim Harris. Tim is famous for owning Tim's place, a restaurant that listed free hugs on the menu. Tim currently has a very successful public speaking career. He is 33 years old and has already had a very exciting life full of travel and meeting wonderful people like president and Mrs. Obama, who we met at separate events. Tim happens to have down syndrome. Janie is a retired former business owner. She and her husband of 38 years. Keith have four sons. They love to travel often the sailors, Jenny calls herself a student of life. We met at one of Tim speeches six years ago now. Please enjoy this clip of love as a potion. The lyrics are written by Melissa Regio, who was the focus of episodes one through four. The music and voice are by Rachel Fuller.
Speaker 2:
1:06
[inaudible]. I made
Speaker 3:
1:43
a friend at the courtyard, she turned out to be, she's still an amazing friend of his, he was in her wedding and everything, but, um, she was involved in the student council and she said, we need somebody representing people with disabilities on the student council. And she got to him on the student council and then when, you know, so, so it's, it's not just, he went on to become homecoming king. He got involved in the school. Like any kid who can win, uh, a student election or whatever, you go and you get involved in kids, get to know you. And being the opposite of a bias from Tim has charisma and he was voted homecoming king by the highest margin ever in the school's history. So there are bragging a little bit. I believe it, and you should be proud, I believe in, but I did not expect it.
Speaker 3:
2:38
Like I wasn't at this school every day. I didn't know that he had that much support. I knew it was in student council. I knew he had some friends. Um, but when we went and Oh, another thing that happened, oh I've got to tell you this, he um, he had a really great teacher, um, in ninth and 10th grade who expected that only for them to get an education but come to high school and make friends to be friends with his classmates. And she did things that promoted friendship. And then the special ed teacher, the adaptive PE teacher at the time really liked her philosophy that his main special ed teacher and she took that to her PE class cause she came I think in ninth grade they had PE every day in high school. Right. Cause high school PE has every day. And she took her adaptive PE class and, and adapted it to coincide with whatever special Olympic event was coming up.
Speaker 3:
3:43
So when it was basketball, she not only taught them basketball skills, she taught them leadership skills. She had them vote to make one, a team captain and that captain had to warm them up and had responsibilities as, as their leader. And Tim was there first captain, then she took it this, this is the, this is the, this is the grassroots kind of stuff. This isn't like, sadly, I don't think this was adopted by the high school after Tim left or after this teacher left. But um, she just said, Oh hey, we've got this special Olympic team and the fall sports assembly is coming up and they're playing basketball. They need to be in, they need to be introduced. And, and they got uniforms and I said, really? They, they, they let you do all this? She goes, well let's just say they didn't say no. And so Tim got to, as the first captain got to introduce his basketball team and I actually have a video of that and this, that was my first, wow. Cause I walked into that gym. It's 2000 students. When Tim came out to introduce his team, and this was 10th grade when Tim came out to introduce his team, he's got the microphone, he's yelling into it. You could hardly understand what he was saying. He was so excited that he was introducing his team. The entire student population came to their feet and they were known.
Speaker 3:
5:06
They all loved him and they loved and they were yelling the names of the others, the students when they were coming out and, and that went on all through high school. So, so he had, he was part of a sports team. It was special and big. It got included into the high school sporting and events for the student population to see. And then, and then he's running for homecoming king. Everybody knows it. Everybody, every population knew and loved him. The popular kids, the jocks, the golf, the skateboarders, the kids who went outside and across the street and smoked across the street. They ought, Tim was a part of every one of them. He didn't, he wasn't secluded off into one or the other. So yeah, he got put at homecoming Queen King, a very high margin.
Speaker 4:
5:59
Hmm.
Speaker 1:
6:01
Well you were there when he got that right.
Speaker 3:
6:04
Yeah. We had no idea. You weren't there. We were there and we had no idea what his name that he was going to win.
Speaker 1:
6:12
Have a video of him getting it. Okay.
Speaker 3:
6:14
Yes. Yeah.
Speaker 1:
6:16
Okay. That's wonderful. So let's go from that high. Now let's talk about transition because you've been honest, you've been honest about, he's had some good teachers and then he's had some low expectations, kind of a mixture in his education and the, the, the goal for transition in your family and the goal for transition in the school system. We're really not aligning. Correct. You want to talk about that?
Speaker 3:
6:44
Yeah. Yeah. I think, um,
Speaker 4:
6:47
okay.
Speaker 3:
6:47
There were times when I felt that the education side of Tim, where were that the expectations were very low and that his classroom as far as education, when it became a place to plant him and get him through to the next level, um, I don't feel that there was much emphasis put on his, um, later, later in high school, his learning and education. Um, so while he was having a very great social life, um, I think his education was lacking and he, um, I think he might've still had some inclusionary classes because he would go to registration and sign up for things like guitar and drama and art. Um, but, um, even his, even the community based instruction that would have helped him learn how to ride the city bus and go places, um, was um, lacking. And then when we started looking at transition, um, they had a program, Oh this is horrible.
Speaker 3:
8:09
I'm, I'm sorry for people who really need to know this, but I don't remember what the program was called. I think it had an acronym, but it was like that in that after high school program where you don't, you're not in high school anymore, but you haven't, you can stay in school until you're 22 and whatever your state program is for that. We started looking at it and they're, there just really wasn't anything there for Tim. There was, um, there was a one day where you would go maybe to a special, very special arts program. There was one day where you might go work at a local goodwill or something, but there wasn't like a daily, um, there wasn't to me kind of focus like of the future at that time. And, um, at the same time we were not told about this, but we're lucky enough to live in this in a state that actually had a secondary, uh, college level program.
Speaker 3:
9:13
And my husband found it online. We didn't find it from any of the people who were working with us in the schools on transitioning him from high school to adult. So we were, we were kind of on our own basically without much hope for the future. How does it make you feel to know that today, all these years later, that's still pretty much how it is. La La la, I don't want to hear it. No transition is a piece that schools really need to figure out. I, I have to say, I know that they're trying to do better. Um, but, but I think if they could help on the education side of the piece that would help with better outcomes. Education would help. And I also think one thing I, my husband and I as business owners noticed was that in any kind of programs that we went to job fairs, learning how to write a resume and learning how to do a job interview, we saw a lot of people with really good hearts and really good intentions, but they were more like the social workers or the case managers.
Speaker 3:
10:20
There were not employers there. You've got to, that bridge has to happen. The employers need to be there. Right. And that's, I know that's a big leap. I know we, yeah, but if you're going to, like when I take a look at what happened with Tim at Red Robin for instance, it's like, like if employers felt the way that manager felt and he, he did not have experience with someone with down syndrome, he just said, no, we, we have our own training program. If, if we'll put Tim through that and then if we need any help, we'll, we'll get it. But instead we approached players with people and they're going to come into your business and they're gonna, you know, help this person do this. And that step back for a second and go, what help does this business need? These are very smart adults who know their business, they know their jobs, they know what needs to be done and then put that team on there where they're needed.
Speaker 3:
11:27
But don't just say you got to have this team. Right. Um, I dunno, there's just so many pieces to it. Gretta that, um, that I honestly think that the success that we've had with Tim had to do with every time we took a step back and said, what can he do and where does he need help? I'm not saying we did that perfectly, but the times that we did that and he was successful was because we took a look at, we looked outside of the box for one thing. Cause the box is always going to tell you what they can't do, right? And the box is always going to have the people, there are people who want to help, sometimes need to help. And for a person who needs to help, they need a needy person. So you've got to watch out for that and watch.
Speaker 3:
12:29
And I'm talking to myself sometimes I'm not talking to just about people out there like I've had to check myself like how much should I need to help Tim with this when he didn't need it? And asking that. I think that's a very good thing for us to think of his parents. I think you're definitely, definitely educators need to think of it and educators need to think of it when they're looking at their transitions and when they're going to go out there in the real world. How much can Debra or Johnny or Tim or Yazzie do where they don't need help so you can apply the help to where they need it, right? Or teach him the employers what they need to know. We had to do that in Tim's restaurant. I'll tell you a story about Tim's restaurant. Well, my husband and I, as you know, our sailors, and when we opened the restaurant, when we helped him open the restaurant, we hired really good management and they were running the restaurant, but we hadn't fully given them our blessing parent experience about Tim.
Speaker 3:
13:40
So we were gone, got everything, got establish. The restaurant had been open for a few months and so we went off on a two month trip on our sailboat. First of all, when we came back there, we walked in the restaurant, couldn't wait to go in and see how it was going. And we looked around, we'd been in there for about 45 minutes. There was no Tim Pendley. We said, where's Tim? And they said, oh, he's in the back. We're like, what's he doing in the back? And they said, oh, well he was getting kind of bored so he wants to cook. So, so we taught him how to cook and he's in the back cooking. We're like, Tim can't be in the back. I mean sure when it's slow, let him go back there and cook. But he used to be out here greeting the customers. Right. So they didn't know how to tell him no right.
Speaker 3:
14:32
And say, well that's what Tim wanted. And it was really hard for them because Tim was the owner, so they saw him as the owner, but in some ways they still needed to manage him. Right. It was a very awkward thing for these man, these poor managers. And then we found out that Tim was going through a phase where, I don't know where he got the idea, but this is Tim. He can be crazy sometimes. He decided there was a tree outside and he decided every once in a while that he needed to go out and hug that tree and he was thrown out when he was like hugging the tree and doing all these histrionics and all that. And we like Tim, you can't do that. If a customer comes out and sees you doing that, they're going to go, yeah, I don't think I'm going to go in there.
Speaker 3:
15:15
You know? We had to teach him, like to check in some of that, be that spontaneous behavior that he had. But then there were other times when we stopped him and it was like that was exactly what he needed to be doing. Like, I don't know if you remember the video, but he used to put on his headphones and dance to work every morning. Oh yeah. And that people, do you want to know something that video bloggers used to come in and wait in his parking lot, catch him dancing to work and so they can put it on their video blog. I mean, it was a hit. Right? So it's five roles that was viral. Viral. Yeah. So did be careful like what? Like we couldn't let Tim go out and just hug trees. I mean, it might draw and tree huggers, but you know, for some people who aren't sure whether, I'm not sure I want to go into this restaurant. I've heard it's this guy with a disability and he's out there hugging a tree. They might just go right on by. Right. So we had this balancing act to do, um, but anyway, the employers, I think it was about employers p and coworkers who need to know, um, things that they themselves can do on the accommodation side and where you actually really need help. Like they needed help to tell Tim that he couldn't go running out and hug a tree. Right. Like they didn't know if that was okay or not. I don't know. But
Speaker 1:
16:42
it's, it's kind of, it's there. It's a, I like hearing the story because at the beginning of the interview you talked about when he started at Red Robin and you thought you were going to get bad news from them and you were thinking he has to be reigned in sometimes and now you're, you've got great news, but now you're giving another example of when he needed just a little bit of guidance.
Speaker 3:
17:02
Right? Yeah. Okay. So I liked that there are more moments of that. That's just one example.
Speaker 1:
17:09
So tell, tell us about college. I'm going to say this for anybody who hasn't heard it yet and I'll make sure that this link is on the website. Hopefully if NPR allows us to, which I don't see them not, there's a wonderful link of Tim and his father and his brother on StoryCorps and um, and, and they do talk a little bit in there about taking him to college. But talk about the college experience. I know that the people that I know who've done that have all said it independence was the number one thing they got from that. That's what they've told me. Go ahead.
Speaker 3:
17:46
Yes. Tim would not be living on his loan on his own at first of all, if he hadn't gotten away from me. So I'm doing a little confessing here and you know, Mike, we have a funny story because, uh, as we were getting ready to, once we decided to send him and we're working up towards him going, you know, we were talking about it a lot in one time. My husband just kind of said, you know, he really needs to get away from you. And he meant this in the best ways that this wasn't an Estee comment. And so I'll never forget it. We were at a special Olympic event and the, our wonderful director of Special Olympics here in New Mexico, um, came and sat down next to Tim. She goes, well, Tim, she said, I heard you're going away to college anyway. Yeah, I really need to get away from my mom.
Speaker 3:
18:38
But that's a little joke on the truth because I, US mothers will tend to do too much for our kids. And when he went to college, he was three hours away. So that was rough. It was a three hour drive. There was a little airline that went to this little town, but basically it was three hours to get to him. Um, they had a great program, um, for Tim, which, because by this time we knew that he was going into that. We knew by then we were going to help him open a restaurant and they didn't have exactly the courses that we needed, but we knew that Tim needed, um, some independence and, and frankly you wanted to go to college. So we, we, his brothers were going to college, his friends are going to college and he had this drive that he wanted to go.
Speaker 3:
19:30
So they took some, the school used to be a vocational technical vocational school and then it became a junior college. And now I think it's a full four year. It's an extension campus, but as a four year college and then they had a vocational track that was, it was, um, inclusionary and that, and then they took, uh, a wonderful woman started this, they called it special services program and they took their vocational track and, um, put the students in those classes, one of which was food service. But then they also had, um, like a regular college schedule where they had, um, well they had independent living job skills. Oh, go ahead. A wonderful class called conflict, which I swear every kid in any school in our country needs to have this class. Tim learned so much about just standing up for himself for telling people no, and he needed to say no, including bullies, um, for what to do if he was having problem in a relationship with a girl.
Speaker 3:
20:49
And you learn the lessons so well that like, like three years later, kids were like, even kids who weren't, didn't have like quite as high as disability as Tim. Like if they were having relationship problems, they go, we have to go ask him what to do. Like, he just, it just, but um, and so the programs were, um, skill based on independent living, job skills and then this, these interpersonal skills. And because what happened was when, and these, and this was a commuter campus, but they had dorm rooms for the special services who had, and they had ras for each of the floors. Um, so they had support there, but it was more like a more alike than different in it from college terms. Like they had, you know, some classes were Monday, Wednesday, Friday, I'm were Tuesday, Thursday. They had to keep their schedule, they had to keep their apart, their dorms clean, they had to show up for work, um, clean and their clothes had to be clean.
Speaker 3:
21:58
And um, and they had a director of housing who was kind of watching over all that. And um, the, the, the, the first thing that they always had trouble with was hygiene. And then the second was showing up for class to showing on time. And the third was relationships. And it was almost as if they took those problem areas and applied classrooms and skills and then they expect it to work. And they had to, at first they had jobs on campus, but then they had to learn how to ride the bus and go into town and go to their jobs and be on time everyday. It's the same things he learned in middle school. Right. Like I can't downplay the importance of like, look at those, look at the education that look at the whole picture. What are your kids going to be doing when they get out of high school? Right. Right. He was going to be in the restaurant. He needed to be on time. He needed to know cleanliness. He learned about nice safety. He learned about cross contamination, you know, things that he needed to know in his for his future. Right. We're taught there as well as some academic classes.
Speaker 5:
23:08
MMM.
Speaker 3:
23:10
He didn't do very well at first, but he didn't like getting, having to do community service because, um, his, his room wasn't clean and he didn't like getting sent home from work because he stunk. So it's, it was, it was the life lessons though. Like if your mother's telling you change your shirt, it's wrinkled and it stinks and you've watched the shirt for them and you've got folded it and you've got to clean unwrinkled shirt for them, they're not learning independence. Right. They're learning that their mother knows when they need to change their shirt. The skills and the expectations that they had at this school were exactly what Tim needed any started when he was 18 because we chose to just go ahead and let them graduate with his class and not go on to the transition services. But just because I'm not saying that there aren't things for people in these services and it's probably changed a lot in Albuquerque since then.
Speaker 3:
24:10
I would hope, well my guess so, I don't know. Don't assume, I don't know what that's like here now. It just with where we knew Tim was going, there was nothing there for him. And so he went and he was probably one of the youngest ones there because most of the kids would finish their public education and go when they were 22 that Tim went when he was 18 and stayed for four years and it was only a one year program. So yes, he did for one year programs. I was going to ask that. Can you do that? We did.
Speaker 6:
24:47
But
Speaker 3:
24:49
um, what we did, he didn't do very well in his classroom work the first year, so we had an repeat, some of them. Um, his, his job skills increased as he went. And so the second year he worked at different restaurants, um, in town because he started out in the school cafeteria and then he worked his way up at restaurants in town until by the fourth year. Um, my husband went and worked with the administrator of the special services and by the fourth year we did, it was almost like a graduate assistant kind of a thing where Tim didn't go to class anymore. Um, he, he kept up some of the classes that he wanted to do that we're almost more extracurricular, but he shadowed a rat. Oh my gosh. He shadowed this restaurant owner in Roswell, New Mexico, um, who taught him so much about not only customer service but how to take care of your employees. So it was almost like an apprenticeship in a way. It was like almost like on the job, um, services, but in a college setting where he still lived at the dorm and, and, and um, participated in his school when he wasn't at work. What was the name of the college he went to? Eastern New Mexico University in Roswell. Roswell.
Speaker 6:
26:13
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
26:13
Okay. Now let's go on to fun. I know he likes to Special Olympics. What, what sports does he like and what else does Tim like to do? Tim? Tim Loves basketball, track and field. Poly Hockey, bowling. I think I can just honestly say there's no sport that he hasn't loved. Um, we've always tried to push him more into the more active sports because like I said, he's constantly battling with weight. Yup. It's so we like him to be, I prefer he does. If he has to choose between basketball and bowling. I pushed him towards basketball but he does what he wants, you know. But he does get a little bit of mom push on that one. Um, he has friends, he has people that he calls and people that he just says, Hey, we haven't gone out for a beer for awhile. Let's go for a beer.
Speaker 3:
27:14
He has the people that worked for him in his restaurant got blessed Sunday. Never. Very few of them ever left. They loved working as restaurant. They loved him and they still, he still gets together with the people that worked at his restaurant. So they're, they've become lifelong friends. Um, his best friend from high school, he still gets together with, um, he, Facebook has been amazing. Baseball, Instagram I guess cause he uses Instagram and he has stayed connected with so many people and you know, it's our kids stand out so people remember them. Like, how many of you, like if five years from now, if somebody from your high school called and said, Hey, I just saw you on Facebook, do you remember me? If you went to a school with, you know where there's 2000 kids, they may or may not remember you. They remember Tim, you know, and then just a few people who, you know, some people with down syndrome look alike and they'll say, oh hey, I know you went to high school together and Tim will go, yeah.
Speaker 3:
28:26
So he kind of had to watch that a little bit and then we find out that their high school was in California or something like that. But Tim calls me almost every day and every day when he, I love answering the phone because he cooked. His words are, oh mom, I'm so excited. Or, oh mom, I can't wait because he himself has something that he's planned or that he's doing and he's gotten involved in his community and he does have a part time a life coach trainer who has gotten them involved in a running club. And she's also gotten him involved more in doing some volunteer work in the community. Also, he does meals on wheels. This plus speaking gigs to making gigs. That's why like at the restaurant that he works with, they're very flexible on when he works, when he, he does meals on wheels, but they don't have to have him there to deliver the meals so that he gets to go help when he's in town. So he said his life up to be fair to flexible enough to um, so that when he's out of town he's not dropping the ball on anybody. Thank you for listening to the 12th episode of born fabulous. I hope you enjoyed it and want to hear and
Speaker 1:
29:42
episode 13 the final episode of season one, Jenny Harris chairs some wonderful stories from Tim's restaurant. Give some advice and much more than episode comes out June 21st to learn more about Tim and see some photos and videos, go to www.bournefabulouspodcast.com if you haven't already, please subscribe to barn fabulous podcast on iTunes or any podcast directory. Also, please leave us a review on iTunes that really helps us please like us on Facebook and Instagram, and note that we have a youtube channel now. Please enjoy this clip of the ring. Lyrics are by Melissa Regio, who was the subject of episodes one through four. The music and the voice are by Rachel Fuller.
Speaker 2:
30:31
[inaudible] [inaudible].
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