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School Janitor Takes Boy With Autism Under His Wing - So His Mom Raises $35,000 in Response
Janitor Takes Boy With Autism Under His Wing So His Mom Raises $35,000 for Him
Uplifting News

School Janitor Takes Boy With Autism Under His Wing - So His Mom Raises $35,000 in Response

Raymond Brown is being hailed as a local hero.

Fitting in at school can be tough.

Not everyone makes friends easily or finds the transition from home to class that simple. For those who have certain conditions or disabilities, however, it can be even more challenging to fit in.

That’s where one elementary school janitor made a huge difference in a little boy’s life.

Starting School for the First Time

little boy with an older man

Amos Wood was three years old when he began school at White Oaks Elementary in Edenton, North Carolina. The child has autism and didn’t talk, so it was especially hard for him to make any friends. The school’s janitor, Raymond Brown, noticed Amos, however. And he decided to take him under his wing.

“My heart went out for him; he was in Pampers when I first met him, and I kept showing my love towards him,” Brown toldABC11. “He got that, been attached to me, and I got attached to him, so I gave him the name Famous Amos.”

“After Mr. Brown started saying 'hello' to him and calling him 'Famous Amos,' Amos started saying, 'Hey Brown,' when he saw him. He wasn't even saying 'Daddy' at that point, so it was really something,” Amos’ mom, Adrian Wood, told Today.

“Famous Amos” was a great nickname because it stuck. Before long, all the other students began calling the boy “Famous Amos” too. He went from being the shy new kid to the one the other students loved. Some of them would even fight over who got to hold Amos’ hand on the way to class.

“I give Mr. Brown a lot of credit for that,” Wood told ABC11. “Here's this man that everybody adores, and he showers some attention on Amos, then everybody was like, 'Well Amos is pretty cool,' and he might not be the kind of friend that plays... or talks, but children really gravitated towards him; which, for me, the mother of a child with a disability, is all I want in life for him.”

More Than Just the Janitor

Mr. Brown isn’t just kind to Amos; he is kind to all of the students at the school and has become a beloved figure in the community.

“He’s kind of our rock, our foundation of what we do here at school,” the school’s principal, Michelle Newsome, told WTKR. “What makes Mr. Brown the most special is that he works really hard to build relationships with the students, sincere relationships that many of our students would not otherwise have.”

No one was surprised when Mr. Brown was nominated for the North Carolina School Hero award. But when he didn’t win the accolade (or the $10,000 prize), Amos’ mom decided to raise awareness about the kind soul who had helped her son so much.

She took to her blog and rallied the community to help award him a different award: the Famous Amos Award.

Recognizing a Special Person

“We need to recognize those same people that might not be on the big screen but are doing really good work and get overlooked. My Amos, he's so successful but not successful in how the big world defines success,” Wood told WTKR. “So when I said the Famous Amos Award, I was like, that's perfect because Mr. Brown exemplifies that, and so does Amos.”

She was shocked that so many people donated money towards the award. Not only did local community members contribute, but she also received donations from other parts of the country and around the world. In the end, they raised $35,000 for the man.

On the big day, Mr. Brown’s daughter told him there was a party to celebrate his 38th wedding anniversary. Instead, when he arrived at the waterfront just before lunch, there was a huge crowd waiting for him and cheering him on.

Mr. Brown was shocked and told outlets he planned on buying the school staff food and treating all the kids to ice cream. He planned on putting the rest towards work on his house and perhaps a new truck.

“Some of the kids said, 'Mr. Brown, I wish you [were] my father. [I] wish you were my grandfather,' and that made me want to love them even more,” he said.

Making Meaningful Connections

What Mr. Brown did for Amos was nothing short of heartwarming. But what makes this story truly special is how Mr. Brown has developed bonds with each one of the students at his school over the year.

He isn’t popular because he cleans up spills and messes or because he brings students their lunches. He is beloved because he takes the time to get to know his students and connect with them on a personal level.

It’s something we could all do more of in our own lives. Take the time to get to know those around us, whether that’s at home, at work, at school, or in our community. We all crave that human connection, but it takes practice to listen more, talk less, and show up for the people in our lives.

If we can learn to do that, our lives will just be richer.

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