It was a lesson in redemption for a man who made bad choices in life but received an act of kindness from a stranger that turned around his life completely.
“I was just having some problems,” said Travis Sueyoshi. “I ended up taking some stuff.” The 33-year-old was caught on camera stealing from a construction site on Koaki Street in Waipahu, this was the second time he had hit the same spot and had stolen $10,000 worth of tools.
The owner of TSW Fabrication, John Paul Cates, was livid about the robbery and said, “We work hard for our stuff. It’s a family business,” he said. “I was like we’re going to find this guy.”
Three days after the break-in, Sueyoshi returned to the scene of the crime and was feeling apologetic for his actions. “I felt wrong for what I did,” Sueyoshi said. Cates says he was apologizing for what he did, “He said I’ll work it off. I’ll do whatever,” Cates said. “Somewhere in that conversation, the moment changed. I was looking at him and I was like, ‘No I don’t want you to work it off. I’m going to hire you.’”
That was two weeks ago and even though he was homeless and without a car, he still showed up to work every morning at 7 a.m. He’s responsible for keeping the site clean and organized. “I built this the other day,” Sueyoshi said, pointing at some wooden shelves. Cates hopes Sueyoshi will start working on steel as a trade. “We really want him to grow with us,” he said. “And we really want to find a place for him to lay his head at night. A legitimate place.”
Cates showed Sueyoshi compassion that has helped turn his life around completely. “For my future. Part of me hopes I last long with them. And I become one of these guys on the roof,” he said.