I remember a time in rehabilitation history when we were eager to take the personality out of people with disabilities, wash them clean of anything we didn’t think people in the community would accept. Back in the day, professional educators and rehabilitation personnel were uncomfortable when adults with disabilities would pass out hugs like candy for the soul, hugging strangers in the hallway of their shelter workshop or while shopping at the local mall. There was a time when such behavior was deemed socially inappropriate and in many places it is still considered a “behavior”. Frequently, in schools and rehabilitation facilities, these individuals were placed on some kind of behavioral modification program. Forgotten in this attempt to rehabilitate people from inappropriate hugging, was just how powerful hugs can be. Meet Tim Harris, the inspiration behind Tim’s Place. Where hugs are counted and over 32,000 have been given so far.
Like Mikelle Learned, Tim has exceeded expectations, gone beyond perceived limitations, diving into his dream like a refreshing lake waiting to be explored. Tim’s Place is a result of wild persistence of a big dream–to own his own restaurant. While in high school, where Tim was voted Student of the Year and Homecoming King. While in school, Tim worked at the Red Robin as a host. It was there that Tim found his passion for people could actually be profitable. Tim had an amazing effect on customer service. After graduation, Tim went on to attend Eastern New Mexico University. Tim earned certificates in Food Service and in Office Skills and worked at a variety of local restaurants including CiCi’s Pizza, Golden Corral, IHOP, and Peppers Bar and Grill. Tim lived in a college dorm and graduated in the summer of 2008. It would be a few years before the idea of Tim’s Place took root. It was in May, 2010 when the lease was signed and a general manager was hired. The press has noticed his success as he was featured in People Magazine and CBS’s On the Road with Steve Hartman.
What we at Shining Beautiful Series love about Tim and the Harris family story is how they, as a family, focused on what was possible. They doubted limits from the start, using the power of Tim’s personality, the warmth of his hugs to enhance the Albuquerque community. This is the brilliance of community in action–community supporting community. Everyone wins. Next time we go through New Mexico we are heading to Tim’s Place for breakfast!
If You Can Dream it, You Can Do it! Go Tim. Check out NBC Nightly News story.