Meijer employee with autism gets thousands of birthday wishes.
Parents thank the community for compassion: “It touches our hearts”
By Lindsay Doty
Joseph Coy has been working at the Meijer in Plainfield for nearly six years, gathering up shopping carts and greeting customers. It turns out, he is sort of a local celebrity among staff and shoppers. The young man with autism doesn’t chat much but leaves a lasting impression with his kind heart and friendly demeanor.
“I like the people at Meijers!” said Coy, who grew up in Avon.
For his 27th birthday (Sept. 14), he left work with several birthday cards and gifts from his coworkers. Joseph’s parents, John and Connie Coy, were moved by the actions.
“It speaks volumes about people who treat special needs people well,” said Joseph’s father, John Coy.
Dad decided to share his appreciation on social media. Soon, his Facebook alert was ringing nonstop with more birthday wishes for his son.
“It rang so much I thought something was wrong with my phone,” he said.
The posts attracted 4,000 likes-and growing, along with hundreds of comments from community members who know Joe from places around the county, from Splash Island (one of Joe’s favorite summer stops) to Meijer regulars.
“I see Joseph often when I shop at Meijer. It warms my heart EVERY time. Good work Joseph! You are a blessing! I hope your birthday was as special as you are!” wrote Stephanie Moster.
For parents of special needs children, it’s the kind of support that goes a long way.
“Unbelievable. Touching. I knew that many people knew Joseph, but I had no idea that it was thousands,” said John Coy. “It truly touches our hearts about how the people in this community have welcomed, included and cared about Joseph over these many years.”
Josephs attended Avon schools and got his job at Meijer through the Avon High School Work Study, a program that helps prepare students and match them with real jobs through employer partnerships.
“The AHS special education staff follows the same philosophy in both academic and vocational focus — that every student has the potential to learn regardless of disability,” said Kimberly Lobosky, transition coordinator for Avon Community Schools. “Giving students such as Joseph a chance to start gaining job skills prior to their transition to adulthood has helped them to be better prepared when moving on to post-secondary options.”
Lobosky attributes Joseph’s success to his good work ethic, a supportive family and a community that values all individuals.
“It is employers, like Meijer, and the AHS Work Study partners, such as McAlister’s Deli, Monical’s Pizza, Metro Diner and the Hendricks Regional YMCA that open doors for students like Joseph and so many others in the Hendricks County area.”
Joseph Coy ended his birthday with cake and ice cream at home. He had one thing to say: thank you.