A simple act of kindness started the relationship between 48-year-old Rene Vesi and 8-year-old Dima Kerdivara. Every Wednesday morning, as he drove a garbage truck by Dima's house, Vesi saw the youngster looking out the window. When Vesi started waving to Dima, he was met with smiles that eventually turned into regular meetings on the front lawn. Now, Vesi is part of Dima's crucial weekly routine, which has helped the autistic boy develop his social skills, his parents say.
Dima has a box of Waste Management-branded items that he keeps in his home. He has a yellow safety vest, a hat, a toy truck, a small soccer ball, a recycling pamphlet, and even a miniature garbage can. They are all gifts from Vesi, who has worked for the company for 15 years and has had the Kerdivaras on his route for at least three years. Throughout that time, Vesi and Dima have bonded and become close friends.
According to mother Alla and father Dmitry, the interactions have significantly helped Dima gain confidence and more abilities to express his emotions. Even moreso than other therapy methods, which include sessions with horses and various classes.
“He lives in his own world,” Dmitry Kerdivara Sr. said. “This interaction creates a bridge between our world and his. And it takes away the fear. Because we know that there are good people who will help him.”
For more background on Vesi and the Kerdivaras, head over to The Oregonian for the full story.