by Sue Ann Rybak
Now, when the days are getting shorter and colder, it’s easy to feel a bit moody or cranky. This reporter often finds herself slightly hunched over, looking down and avoiding eye contact. If you are like me, you need a burst of sunshine to combat your blues. Unfortunately, Mother Nature does not always cooperate. On those days, this reporter heads to Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill to get a much-needed dose of sunshine from a friend – Tom Walsh.
It’s rare today to find somebody whose mere presence lifts your spirits. Walsh, 51, a native of Chestnut Hill, always greets everyone with a cheerful smile. He knows everyone by name, a trait this reporter lacks. Despite having Down syndrome, Walsh doesn’t let anything stop him from doing what he loves. Whether it’s working hard stocking the shelves at Weavers Way Co-op in Chestnut Hill or running errands for the Chestnut Hill Business Association or cutting the rug with friends, he is always busy.
Walsh’s smile is contagious. He takes great pride in all his endeavors.
Jon Roesser, human resource director at Weavers Way, said Walsh, who works four days a week, was one of the first employees hired at the store. Roesser recalled how Walsh reached out to Weavers Way in 2009, when one the things Weavers Way wanted to do was to build relations in the neighborhood and make people feel like they belonged.
“We wanted customers to be greeted by a familiar face,” Roesser said.
Roesser recalled that during the interview Walsh smiled and said, “I know a lot of people in Chestnut Hill.”
Riley Luce, grocery manager at Weavers Way in Chestnut Hill, said Walsh really enjoys his job and takes it very seriously.
“He really helps to create a strong sense of community in the store,” he said. “Tom is always willing to lend a hand.”
Luce said his upbeat and positive attitude “lifts everybody up.”
Besides working part-time at Weavers Way Co-op, Walsh works part-time at the Chestnut Hill Business Association, running errands and delivering brochures.
Walsh said he loves visiting all the shops, especially Zipf’s Candies, where he gets two butter cremes every day.
“Walsh brings joy to people,” said Peggy Miller, deputy finance director at the Chestnut Hill Business Association.
Miller recalled how the faces of people walking on the Avenue faces would light up when they were greeted by Walsh. She added that he knows almost everybody by name in the community.
“He knows everyone and never forgets people,” Miller said. “He has a great memory. We will often ask him to remind us to do something.”
Martha Sharkey, executive director of the Chestnut Hill Business Association, Chestnut Hill Business Improvement District and the Parking Foundation, said Walsh is a fixture in the community.
When asked what he liked best about his job, Walsh said “I am important – I am the Mayor of Chestnut Hill.”
And, indeed, Walsh is. In fact, many Hillers would say he is “the heart of Chestnut Hill.” He makes everyone feel welcome.
After all, Walsh said “This is my home.”
Truly, we are blessed to be invited into his home.