After two long careers, 65-year-old Student Assistance Specialist Amos Reyes retired in June. Despite five decades of work, two factors make it tough for him to leave: his coworkers at Center for Human Services (CHS) and the children he serves.
“CHS has meant so much to me,” Amos said. “I’ve had awesome supervisors. The people I work with are sincere and very caring. Everything the agency stands for is so great. It’s done so much good for so many people.”
After 20 years with the agency, Amos is the longest-serving Student Assistance Specialist in CHS history. He’s worked with about a thousand students in individual sessions and nearly 70,000 students through classroom presentations throughout Turlock at elementary schools and the junior high.
“You mentor children, comfort them, give them advice, help them when they’re grieving, share personal stories,” Amos said. “I share my heartbreaks and then I find we’re both crying. It helps me and it helps them.”
This is more than just a job to Amos. It’s his calling.
“It’s not just having a student come in and do a worksheet on anxiety or anger and you’re out the door,” Amos said. “You forge relationships with these students. They come up and hug me; they’re happy to see me. It’s almost like being a parent, or uncle or grandfather. It’s more than mentoring. It has to come from within. You have to have an insatiable desire to help children.”
His coworkers and supervisors agree that Amos was meant for this job.
“Amos is one of the most flexible, ‘willing to do whatever it takes to help a child’ people that I’ve ever known!” said CHS Program Director Taryn Muralt.
Amos’ first career was as a police officer for the Turlock and Firebaugh Police Departments for more than 22 years before transitioning to his work at Center for Human Services.
The combination of experiences as a police officer, mentor and father proved impactful at the schools where he worked.
Recently, Amos received an email from a former student we’ll call Jaime, whom he worked with as a sixth grader. Jaime’s dad and brothers were in a gang and it seemed likely he was headed down that same path.
Jaime wrote Amos to say, “‘I want to let you know that I am now a correctional officer for a local County Sheriff’s Office and I want to personally thank you for helping me because I was going in the wrong direction. If it hadn’t been for you, I probably would’ve ended up like my family. I’m so grateful.”
Amos was shocked. The boy he figured would break the law was now enforcing it.
“I teared up when I read that,” Amos recalled. “I couldn’t believe this was really him. I responded right away. I told him how proud I was of him and how happy I was for him. He had just gotten married, had a baby on the way and had a job as a correctional officer.”
Jaime is just one of many success stories. Amos has seen countless former students who are now close to 40 years old at the schools where he works picking up their own children.
A father figure. A mentor. A friend to all who know him.
Thank you, Amos, for your dedication to Center for Human Services and to the thousands of children you’ve impacted.