Once-homeless man becomes employee of the year

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Supervisors and coworkers of a city of Sarasota Public Works employee agree he's the kind of guy with whom everyone loves working.  However, the road to his success was not easy --Wes Byington was once homeless. 

"He is very driven. He has a passion for getting things completed. He wants to get the work assignments done and he is very pro active," said Todd Kucharisk the city of Sarasota's general manager of public works.

Today, Byington says he is just happy doing what he does.

"I have a job that I love to go and that I love to go to everyday. That is a big key to life and happiness," he said.

His bosses call him a model employee, but getting to where he is today has been a journey. Three years ago, Wes lived on the streets of Sarasota for about a month. Then he said, 'something needs to change.'

"It was terrifying the first couple of days. I didn't know what to do. I just held my head in my hands and I didn't know what I was going to do or where I was going to end up," he recalled.

Then Byington met some people at the Salvation Army and everything changed. They suggested he join a program called the Street Team, which helps pick up trash and works on landscaping projects.

It didn't take long for him to get noticed.

"They started requesting me because they wanted me to come along and help them," he said.

A few months later, the city hired him full time.

"To see somebody like that, that has gone so far down one end and rising up to move forward in the other end is truly an enjoyable thing to be a part of," said Kucharisk.

Byington has come a long way since his most desperate moments.

"I could have had my feet in the gutter and sat there on the curb and still be there today. I see people today who were out when I was out and they are still out and I feel bad for them," he said.

His hard work and dedication has already earned him two promotions and another new title: employee of the year.

"It's really is a great honor. I am truly blessed," he added.