Tom Reitano proudly talks about a boy, "Andrew," whom he once counseled at the Brigades School in Minoa. Coming from a tough environment on Syracuse's south side, Andrew had that "bad boy" image.
"He wore his pants way low and he would walk with that attitude," Reitano said. "When he was with people with a bad attitude he would end up doing stuff with that attitude."
But the Brigades teachers, including Reitano, did not give up on Andrew.
"You could see what a good boy he was," he said.
One day Andrew came up to Reitano and told him he would like to change his appearance. Andrew didn't want the image that came with baggy pants. He wanted to lose his bad attitude and gain a nice, cleaner look. Reitano was happy to help.
"I said, 'We'll get you looking sharp, big guy,'" Reitano said.
Reitano went to the store and bought him a few sweaters, button-down collared shirts and corduroys. Now, Andrew looks like his new attitude. He transferred to East Syracuse-Minoa High School and now plays on several of the school's sporting teams. Reitano said his teachers and coaches admire him. Andrew is not the bad boy anymore.
"I do it because it makes me feel good," Reitano said. "The best way to feel good is to do things for other people. I tell it to my students who might have just broken up with their girlfriends and they are really feeling lousy about life. They don't feel really good about themselves. I say to them, go home to one of your neighbors who needs a little help You don't know how good it will make you feel. When you do for other people your problems don't look so bad."
Jekyll and Hyde
Reitano, 56, of Fayetteville refers to himself as a true representative of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Born a Gemini, he claims that he has two sides: one giving and one that looks out for himself. But, even when he's out to make himself feel good, he still gives.