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If you’ve ever used the mailroom for any reason then you’re familiar with Mailroom Assistant Max Callahan’s smiling face. Always in an upbeat mood, Max is willing and able to help in just about any situation, and can be counted on to complete any task efficiently and cheerfully.
What you may not know is that when Max steps forward to receive his Service Award on Thursday for the five years he has worked at McLean, he will not be the only Callahan to do so that day. Max’s father, Thomas Callahan, a history teacher at the Arlington School, will also receive an award on Thursday for 35 years of service to McLean.
Despite Thomas’ long tenure at McLean, it had never occurred to him that his son would also find a career here. “Max had finished school, and it just so happened that a job in the mailroom had opened up at McLean. I’m not even sure how we came upon it,” said Thomas. “It turned out to be a good position for him to come into, and it worked right off the bat. An opening like that doesn’t come up all that often, so it was pretty serendipitous, really.”
Regularly going above and beyond his job description, Max can often be found lending a hand throughout the hospital, helping employees to keep up supplies of the documents and materials that keep the hospital running from day to day. Some may say that he inherited his work ethic and dedication from his father, who in 2009 took it upon himself to establish a vegetable and herb garden at the Arlington School. Believing that gardening is a practical, hands-on way of educating students about the importance of real versus processed food, Thomas has even managed to tie his gardening efforts into the Arlington School curriculum.
Though Thomas and Max, who used to regularly commute to work together, enjoy working for the same organization, they also appreciate the fact that they don’t work too closely together.
“The Arlington School is way out over here in the corner, and Max is over there at command central,” said Thomas. “It’s actually really cool that I’ve gotten to know a little bit more about people at the hospital through Max’s job. It’s nice having him here.”
And thanks to his dad, Max had already heard plenty about McLean Hospital growing up. “I knew that my dad was a teacher, and he even acts like a teacher at home sometimes, but it wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the school was affiliated with a psychiatric hospital,” said Max.“They have their own little world over at the Arlington School though, so our paths don’t cross that much.”
But despite not crossing paths often at work, the father and son find other ways to spend time together outside of work, including a weekly yoga class that they attend together in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.
“It was my idea to do yoga,” said Thomas. “I’ve had the same yoga teacher for 10 years, so at some point I invited Max and he wound up liking it a lot. It’s a good workout and Max has gotten really steady about coming with me.”
As most children do, Max has one piece of constructive criticism for his father. “His classroom is a little bit messy, so it’s too bad that my mom isn’t here to clean up after him.”
And as a father, Thomas is thrilled that staff members at McLean have had the chance to get to know his son over the past five years. “On the rare occasion that Max makes a delivery over here at the Arlington School, the kids love it and it’s a real source of amusement for them that he’s my son,” he said. “Everyone loves Max—he’s an easy guy to get along with. I’m really very proud of him.”