March 4, 2005
Larry Bailey lives alone in Mesa. His fiance lives in Tucson.
With a broken fibula and torn ankle, Bailey cannot work — until at least late May.
He won’t qualify for long-term benefits until June — when he probably won’t need them anymore.
It could have been a rough road for the 40-year-old facilities assistant at Holmes Elementary School in the Mesa Unified School District.
Instead, the school community has come to his rescue.
Teachers from Holmes and Taft elementary schools have donated 12 sick days, or $1,100 worth of their own sick time, that Bailey has used to pay off his rent through May. Neighbors bring his mail and newspapers, watch over his home and drive Bailey to appointments.
School staff members regularly bake Bailey homecooked meals that are delivered to his house three times a week. Students have drawn him dozens of get-well cards.
"All these people helping out are making it easy for me," Bailey said. "It’s touching."
Bailey broke his ankle Dec. 13 after he fell down a snowy embankment, twisting his ankle. Later that morning, he visited an emergency room, where he learned his fibula had been broken.
A scheduled surgery fell through just before Christmas, but the surgeon canceled, meaning Bailey has a long-term recovery before he can walk again.
On Monday, Holmes office specialist and registrar Carol Rowley delivered burritos, chicken, rice and beans to Bailey’s home. She said it’s not the first time the school has come to the aid of employees in need of a hand or extra sick leave.
"We love Larry," Rowley said. "He’s just a cool dude. He’s like our son. We are a family here at Holmes."