By V. M. GOPAUL
One February morning in 2018, it was just another shift for Evoni Williams at Texas Waffle House. As it turned out, one good deed changed the life of this 18-year-old high school graduate who was saving money to go to college.
The chain of events that propelled Evoni’s life into a fairytale story started when Adrian Charpentier walked into the waffle place for breakfast. This regular customer shuffled across the floor, pulling an oxygen tank on wheels and slowly dragging up himself on the front-counter chair to order his meal.
When his ham and eggs arrived, Adrian quickly realized he had no coordination or strength in his hands due to a recent surgery. He let Evoni know he needed help and asked if she would cut the meat for him. Though it was an extremely busy morning, without hesitation and with a smile on her face, she complied with the patron’s request.
Laura Wolf was having breakfast at the Waffle House in La Marque when she overheard the older man, who reminded her of her father. Laura, a mother of four kids, was impressed with Evoni’s spirit of service at work.
“A rare occasion to witness,” Laura thought. She retrieved her smartphone from her purse and recorded the episode.
Later that day, after Laura uploaded the video on Facebook, Evoni was flooded with notifications. Her friends had tagged her and shared the message seventy-three thousand times. The news about her act of kindness spread through social media like circles in a pond. The post went viral. Newspapers and TV stations picked up the story. Evoni became an instant celebrity. Everyone in La Marque, Texas, was talking about it. The town’s mayor, Bobby Hocking, heard about the good deed and immediately felt he should do something for her. Hocking declared March 8 as Williams day.
The buzz on social media and in the news about Evoni Williams’ generous act caught the attention of Texas Southern University President Austin A. Lane. He offered Evoni a scholarship of $16,000.00. She planned to study at this university close to her town.
“We wanted to reward Evoni’s act of kindness and let her know that good deeds do not go unnoticed,” said Melinda Spaulding, an administrator at Texas Southern University.
More blessings poured in. Evoni did not have a car to go to classes. Some people came forward and started a GoFundMe page. Amazing.
Let’s analyze how this one act of kindness echoed in the chamber of many hearts in La Marque, a town known for diversity and harmony. The demographic is made up of whites, African-Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Hispanics, and other races.
Let’s start with Evoni’s values.
“I was never raised to bash people,” she said. “I was raised to help and try to give blessings.”
Evoni’s mother, with tears in her eyes, stood next to her daughter when the big check was presented by the university president. As a father, I can only imagine how proud this mother was when, out of nowhere, the town was honoring her daughter. Every conscientious parent’s dream is for their children to grow up to do something for the world.
Empathy was another quality Evoni exhibited. In Adrian Charpentier, Williams saw a needy person.
“I would want someone to help my grandmother or grandfather,” Williams said.
Laura saw her own father in Adrian and her children in Evoni. What did the mayor see?
“It’s always refreshing in this day and age to see the younger generation helping the older generation,” said Hocking. “Because our young generation is not always cast in the best light. It never gets old seeing young people help.”
It is the heart that is touched by a good deed, and as the echo vibrated throughout the community, others responded. It is a beautiful thing. In this story, we see the cause and effect of one single action. In this case, effects are out in the open thanks to social media and the chain reaction it produced. It is also true that our good actions often go unnoticed. Publicity is not a good motivation for doing good deeds, but it can happen. In fact, Evoni was surprised by the attention she received as she expected none of that. Sometimes, we are aware of our actions and other times we are not. In the end, everyone felt good about themselves for lending a hand to improve someone’s life, which had an effect on the community.
Did you notice that doing good deeds had nothing to do with being black or white? The names mentioned are both white and African-American. It is about the values and the heart.
But let us not forget that bad deeds have disastrous and corrosive effects on others, both directly and indirectly. In the last few years, America has been divided along racial, religious, and gender lines. Many are looking for answers to this problem. Could it be that this narrative is a good example of how humans should behave?
Our inner being yearns to do good deeds. The more good one does, the happier one feels. Scientific research demonstrated that doing good deeds:
- Decreases stress
- Increases life-expectancy
- Makes us feel better
- Makes us happier at work
- Promotes mental health
- Leads to happiness
- Motivates us to do more good deeds
“Always be helpful,” Williams said. “Just try to help others as little or as much as you can. It doesn’t take much.”
These words can be our daily guide.