Sometimes the sweetest employees on a college campus are the ones that go unnoticed. While most praise will go to that extraordinary professor who taught a life-changing lecture or the guidance counselor that helped you figure out your career path, we sometimes overlook the cleaning lady, the cafeteria worker, the coffee shop barista.
For me, it was the cleaning lady in my sophomore dorm, Peggy. She was a wonderful old woman who always had words of wisdom at the ready and was so thankful for her job, even though that job was to clean up after messy college students. We frequently shared stories about one another’s lives, and while that occasionally left me a few minutes late to class, I was really happy I got to know her.
I imagine Elon University students Lucy Smith-Williams and Taylor Zisholtz felt the same way about their nighttime coffee barista, Kathryn Thompson.
As a thank you for the work that Kathryn does, Lucy and Taylor decided to surprise Kathryn with her lifelong wish of going to Disney World. The two girls decided to create a GoFundMe page to raise money for the trip, and thanks to contributions from the campus community as well as a GoFundMe employee, they surpassed their goal of $6,500 in just three weeks.
Having worked at the Acorn Coffee Shop on the North Carolina campus five days a week for over a decade, Kathryn has clearly made an impact on students and fellow employees alike.
“She’s been here for a long time,” Glenn Austin, Acorn’s assistant location manager told their campus newspaper, The Pendulum. “She’s dependable. She hardly ever calls off and is a stable employee for the night shift.”
“I think once we got talking with her,” Zisholtz added, “you could see how passionate and even just in the few seconds, you could see how warm she was. In a world where everybody is so cold, they keep their wishes and their feelings all to themselves. With Kathryn it was just an open door, she welcomes everyone in and she works so hard.”
Kathryn is a Florida native but admitted that she had never been able to go to Disney World because she couldn’t afford it; a trip to Disney with her family was on her bucket list.
So on Monday, before Kathryn’s shift was supposed to start, Lucy and Taylor surprised her with the big news. And as you can see from the video the students took of the moment, Kathryn was absolutely touched.
“Are you serious?” Kathryn says as she began to tear up.
They were. Kathryn and her family of five were going to the happiest place on earth.
“To see my grandson’s eyes when he sees Mickey,” Kathryn trails off as she wipes back tears. “Thank you. I love all y’all.”
Kathryn still has to pick a date for the trip, but she plans to go with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson.