Evicted from his father’s home almost 24 hours earlier, a 16-year-old needed urgent help as the time wound down for him to board a flight from Toronto to Calgary to reunite with his mother.
When the boy’s mother learned of her son’s plight through Wi-Fi communication he was utilizing in a Lakeshore Ave. W. pizza shop where he had sought temporary refuge, she immediately bought an airline ticket for him.
There was, however, one problem.
The 16-year-old had no money or a friend to give him a ride to Pearson International Airport.
The desperate mother turned to Toronto Police for help.
“While working the Duty Desk evening shift, I received a phone call from a woman who said she was calling from Calgary,” recalled Constable Joanne Tawton. “She seemed quite anxious and concerned, stating that her son was in Toronto and he had been evicted from his father’s home for reasons unknown. She further explained that his aunt had custody of the boy, four years earlier, before he went to live with his dad.”
Tawton contacted Traffic Services and spoke with Staff Sergeant Tim Ralph.
“He understood the dilemma, offered his support, and arranged for a highway car to assist,” she said.
Constable Ryan Schiavo was patrolling the downtown core when he received the call, around 6 p.m., on March 27.
“The young man was very polite and respectful when I showed up at the pizza shop and, on the way to the airport, he asked a lot of questions about police cars and my job,” recalled Schiavo. “He also told me he rode a TTC bus all night after he was evicted from his father’s home and he didn’t eat anything that day.”
After escorting the youth through security and arranging with Air Canada staff to escort him off the plane to his mother in the waiting area at Calgary International Airport, the officer bought a triple/triple coffee and a sandwich from a coffee shop for the teenager.
“That was what he requested,” added Schiavo, in his seventh year with the Service. “He didn’t have a credit card to make a purchase on the flight, so I bought him some chips and a drink. He was very appreciative of what I did and I am glad it all worked out for him and he was able to be reunited with his mother.”
His mother was extremely grateful to Toronto Police for their assistance.
“They helped me to overcome countless sleepless nights and gave me back a piece of my heart that had been missing for so long,” she said. “With their help, they were able to keep my son off the streets and have him returned safely back home, where he belongs.”