Worcester teenager returns wedding ring and watches he found in jacket

WORCESTER – Luke Coelho has no better word than “surprising” to describe the discovery of a pouch full of jewelery worth thousands of dollars in the pocket of a donated jacket.

While trying on the jacket, which he received from Andy’s Attic, a clothing donation center at South High Community School, the high schooler ended up finding a litany of items, including two diamond rings and an emerald bracelet. .

“I was surprised when I saw all the items, but when I realized the rings looked like wedding rings, I…realized it was a sentimental thing. How much it meant to someone. said Coelho, 17.

Born in Massachusetts but raised in Brazil, Coelho moved to Worcester three months ago with plans to finish high school and then enlist in the Marines.

He didn’t plan to draw too much attention to himself once he arrived in the United States, hoping instead to focus on getting good grades, training for boot camp, and making friends. But everything changed once he put on that jacket and found the clutch in his pocket.

“I’m a quiet guy and I don’t like a lot of attention…if I could choose, I would choose not to get that much attention,” he said. “But it’s a good thing, I think.”

While visiting his aunt’s mother, Coelho sifted through a bag of clothes he had received from the donation center, looking for something warm to wear while he helped make some gardening work. He found the jacket, with the name “Dave” embroidered on one side and “AmeriPride” on the other.

“I just put the jacket on and felt something in the pocket,” he said. “I just saw the items and that’s why I was really surprised, because it was a random situation.”

Unsure of what he should do next, he sought advice from his aunt, who is one of his legal guardians in the United States, and his mother.

Diamond wedding ring

Both told him that the items seemed important and should be returned to their original owner.

“As soon as he showed it to me, my heart sank,” said Taryn Souza, Coelho’s aunt. “I have my own mother who I’m very close with, and that led me to say, ‘What if it was me who was missing that jewelry? because I saw this alliance.

A diamond wedding ring was among the items found in the jacket.

She said she was proud of Coelho for coming to her and her mother when he found the jewelry, showing his honesty and maturity in the moment.

Souza, a former Worcester public school teacher who now owns an ad agency, Fortissimo Ad Strategy, began tracking down the jacket’s original owner the next day.

After dropping Coelho and her 4-year-old son off at school in the morning, she stopped by Andy’s Attic to see if there was any information on who had donated the jacket. There were none.

With little to say to each other, Souza began researching Worcester obituaries online for someone named “LORIDA”, the beaded word or name on the sleeve.

“Turns out the name on the cover wasn’t a name. It was Florida with an ‘F’ missing,” Souza said. was the business of someone who was deceased.”

Then Souza started looking for AmeriPride, the company name embroidered on the jacket, to see if she could get in touch with an employee named Dave.

She discovered that AmeriPride, a uniform services company, is now part of Aramark Uniform Services. Souza tried calling that company’s customer service and human resources department, but couldn’t get the help she needed.

She then drove to an address in Worcester listed on the company’s website, where she met two receptionists who immediately jumped on board to help her find Dave.

One of the receptionists, Melissa Condon Kubasiak, recalled two Daves who had worked for AmeriPride. Due to the size of the jacket, she identified Dave Kenney, a retired company truck driver, as the likely original owner.

Good reunion

Once they got him on the phone, Souza tried to find ways to confirm that Kenney was the person they were looking for. Although he couldn’t think of the specific items that were inside the pouch, he did know the initials that were engraved on some of the items: MK

“I knew instantly he was the right guy,” Souza said. “He gave me his address, and later that day, after picking up the boys from school, we stopped at his house and returned the items.”

Luke Coelho with Dave Kenney, the jacket's original owner.

Originally from Worcester, Kenney said he had been through difficult times, particularly in the past year – his wife and mother died and he had to deal with health and financial problems.

“It was about $20,000 worth of jewelry. It was expensive stuff,” Kenney said. “Thank goodness there was Taryn and this young student.”

The jewelry belonged to Kenney’s stepmother and was to be given to her daughters. But before she died, Kenney’s wife had put the jewelry pouch in her old work jacket without telling him.

When he received a call that an item of clothing he had donated to Andy’s Attic contained heirlooms, he was not only shocked, but relieved.

“My wife’s mother had passed away and it was her mother’s…diamond ring. In fact, she used to wear her mother’s diamond ring and she obviously stashed all those things in my coat before she died,” Kenney said. “For what reason? I have no idea. I don’t know how it ended there.

Kenney said he doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for him because his two kids are “going through hell.

“Their grandmother died, their mother died and dad is not in good shape,” he said.

However, they are happy to get the jewelry back, Kenney said.

Heirlooms

Coelho said it wasn’t until he sat down with Kenney that he began to realize how important the objects were to him and his family.

“When he told me his story…it really touched me to let him know that,” Coelho said.

The two families were able to forge a deeper bond, with Coelho saying he considers Kenney a true friend.

Coelho was also able to land a part-time job as a busboy at the Auburn Elks Lodge, thanks to Kenney helping put him in touch with the manager.

Kenney’s friend Mike Casello, who runs the Shamrock Sports 508 podcast, posted the story online and it managed to go viral.

Coelho said the experience helped him bond with his classmates and teachers at school, who now recognize him because of the story and compliment him on the decision he made to return the jewelry. Family members Coelho hasn’t spoken to in years reached out to reconnect.

Kenney is in the process of trying to sell his house and doesn’t know where he might end up next, but he said the experience has brought a sense of joy and hope to his life.

“He’s such a good boy, and (Souza) such a good aunt, for the life lesson that she’s not just teaching him, but teaching everyone involved,” Kenney said.

“If it was… someone else had it, it might not have made the best decision,” Souza said. he was the catalyst for all the good that came out of it.

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