I grew up in an orphanage in NY so as you can imagine I was always getting into trouble no matter where I went. When I was in high school I made a few mistakes and hung out with the wrong crowd that led me down a road I wish I would not have gone down but then again it also led me to where I am today.
When I was 18, I met an older man that owned an italian restaurant in Brooklyn that went by the name of “Boone.” He knew that I was up to no good and started the conversation by saying, “You look like you could use a good meal, are you hungry?” Of course, being 18 I did the typical “cool thing” to do and made a snide comment back at him. He then replied with, “Well if you ever decide you want a good meal then feel free to come in and it will be on the house for you.” About two weeks later I stopped by the place and took him up on that offer. We sat down and he made me the most amazing italian meal I have ever had still to this date. We sat and talked for over 3 hours. He asked me about my background and for once someone actually wanted to listen to what I had to say. Before I left, he told me to come back any time whether it was for a meal or just to chat.
I went back a few days later and asked if he needed any help around the restaurant and he said, “I actually need help in the kitchen with the dishes.” I took him up on it immediately and started working that night. After a few weeks went by, he started asking me about what I might want to do with my life. I literally had no idea or even a place to start. He said he had always wanted to become a landscape architect but never pursued it since he took over the family restaurant which truly became his passion in the long run. I really didn’t know what a landscape architect was so I asked if I could take a look at the books he had laying around and of course he said, “Sure!” I took all of the books and started reading and studying them in every down moment that I had. I became obsessed this industry and the creative side of it all. I constantly would pick his brain about things and he would just laugh at me and say, “Boy you have become obsessed!” I continued to work at the restaurant and went to the local community college in the area to learn more about the landscaping industry. Boone helped me out by purchasing additional books and some money for classes although I let him know that I would pay him back one day.
Fast forward 10 years later and I now am a certified landscape architect running my own small business in NY. Mr. Boone passed away last year and when I attended the funeral I met the rest of his family members where they immediately took me in. They said to me, “Boone always talked about this boy who was lost but had an unbelievable potential and heart that not everyone could see.” It broke me. As a grown man I went to my knees and cried in front of his family thinking about how he took the time to take in a troubled kid who didn’t have a thing and only wanted someone to listen. He gave so much and never expected a thing in return. I owe him so much and feel like I didn’t I gave him anything in return. His wife then said to me, “Honey, you gave him exactly what he always a wanted…a father/son relationship.” He always wanted kids but unfortunately his wife was unable to have children. She said that I was like a son to him and not a day went by that he didn’t tell others how proud he was of you.
When I was in the orphanage I never thought I would find someone who would care about a troubled kid. Not only did I find a friend, I found father in Boone. I will never forget the kindness he showed me and the time he took to teach me about running a business. I’m a better person because of Mr. Boone and I hope that one day I can do exactly what he did for me for someone else in my situation. I never knew that being a business owner was in the cards for me and that I would actually be good at it. But that’s what life and entrepreneurship is all about, helping each other. I’m telling you my story to say that anything is possible even if you’re not on the right track or come from nothing. I take pride in owning a business and love what I do. Every day is a new adventure and not easy by any means but if you have someone who believes in you, just like Boone did with me then you can do anything. My life may not have started how I wanted it to but being a business owner is such a rewarding thing on so many levels. Here’s to those making their dreams come true.
I Am A Mom and Pop.