Passing on hard-learned lessons on Father's Day

His father says that, until two months ago, Tavon was selling drugs on the street.

That's when Berson Tyner, belatedly assuming the role of father in Tavon's life, convened a family meeting. "I gave my sons all an ultimatum -- they have to find a job or go to school; they can't sit around the house and do nothing."

Most of this was directed at the oldest son.

"I ain't like it at first," Tavon says. "But then I thought about it ... and he was right."

So Tavon moved to the home of his paternal grandmother, Shirley Mensah. His parents moved to an apartment in Randallstown. They are saving to buy a house.

Tavon says he'd like to learn to cook, perhaps work in a restaurant. He plans to attend classes toward a high school equivalency diploma.

Karen works for a health insurance provider, as she has for many years, and takes college classes when she can. Berson found a job with Baltimore City, picking up residential trash. "I messed up a lot of people's families [as a drug dealer]," he says. "But I thank God. God is giving me a chance to clean up Baltimore -- literally, with my job -- but also by trying to get the message out that, even though you made bad choices, life doesn't have to stop there."

"I believed that [Berson] would change," says Karen. "That was my prayer to God -- that he would become a saved man. And that's what has happened. He's very determined to stay on the right track."

And get his sons on one, too.

"[Berson] knows he can never make up for the time he lost with the boys as their father," she adds. "But he can start over. He can help them from here on out."

Companies or agencies interested in hiring people profiled in recent columns can contact Dan Rodricks at 410-332-6166 or by e-mail at