Timothy Harrison went to work at a Waffle House in New York on the day of his high school graduation ceremony.
Cedric Hampton, the New York shop manager, was surprised to find him at the restaurant in Center Point at 7 a.m. for a shift as a waiter since he wasn’t on the staff schedule.
Mr. Harrison, a student at Woodlawn High School New York, had asked Mr. Hampton a few days before his graduation if he might take off on May 27. Mr. Harrison’s family was unable to attend the ceremony, and he was without transportation to the event, which was held at a location in nearby — roughly an hour’s journey in traffic from his house.
Instead, he went to Waffle House in the hopes of still being able to work his regular shift. He justified his absence from the event to his coworkers.
His boss sprung into action.
Mr Hampton, 38, who has worked at the Waffle House for four years, replied, “Go home, get your paperwork, call the school, and we’ll figure out the rest.” “It was a no-brainer for me. Graduation is one of those things you only get to do once in your life, and it’s important to be present after you’ve worked all these years to get to that point.”
“I could see in his eyes that he really wanted to go, and I was going to get him there regardless of what,” he said. No student should be late for his or her high school graduation.”
Mr. Harrison informed the staff that he lacked a cap and gown as well as tickets to the ceremony since he was at work during the graduation rehearsal when the required materials were given to pupils.
The Waffle House workers, on the other hand, were unfazed. Given the little time they had until the ceremony at 3 p.m., they decided to divide and conquer.
When the restaurant’s assistant manager, who had the day off, heard about what was going on, she rushed over to the restaurant. One of the employees took Mr. Harrison to the high school to collect his graduation regalia, while another went to a neighboring Target to purchase him a new outfit.
Mr. Harrison received a set of grey trousers, a baby blue dress shirt and tie, and matching grey shoes for approximately $40 (£28) from four Waffle House workers.
The manager said that they decided to step in and take care of everything for him so he could enjoy this special day to the fullest. A few other customers also chipped in. Some customers overheard what was going on and decided to add a few bucks to their orders. They were able to take care of everything in a matter of hours.
Mr. Harrison returned to the restaurant to put on his new attire after stopping by the school to pick up his green and gold cap and gown. “I felt like the president when I walked out of the bathroom in my dress clothes,” he remembered.
Mr. Harrison expressed his gratitude for his coworkers’ efforts, despite the fact that he had only been at the Waffle House for a little more than a month. He now refers to them as his “work family.”
“My coworkers are friendly and considerate. They make certain that everyone in their immediate vicinity is safe,” he explained. “They have a lot of love in their hearts.”
Mr. Harrison thanked Mr. Hampton in particular for taking control and ensuring that he didn’t miss the deadline. “He is a strong leader. He ensures that everyone is working to their full potential,” he explained.
Mr. Hampton, a father of three, said he was just going about his business.
“At my Waffle House, we’re all one big family. He said, “We are all about supporting our people.”
“Timothy immediately lit up” when Mr. Hampton assisted Mr. Harrison in putting on his cap and gown. Mr Hampton, who described himself as a “proud parent,” agreed.
The Waffle House workers were not allowed into the graduation ceremony because of pandemic restrictions and seat limits, so they waited in the parking lot to greet Mr. Harrison when he came out — with a beaming grin.
He said, “It was most definitely the best day of my life.” “It was a fantastic experience.”
“We were just proud that he was able to experience that moment to the fullest,” Mr. Hampton said, adding that they hoped they could have witnessed him go across the stage to get his diploma.
The employees had no idea that their attempts to assist Mr. Harrison would lead to unforeseen possibilities for the new graduate at the time. After hearing about Mr. Harrison’s tale on the local news, faculty members at Lawson State Community College gave him a complete scholarship as well as books.
Cynthia Anthony, president of Lawson State Community College, stated, “This young man was certainly hard-working and dedicated to the task at hand at Waffle House, and it just showed his perseverance and that he wanted something out of life.” “All we wanted to do was see how Lawson State could assist him in furthering his education and achieving his career objectives.”
Mr. Harrison was ecstatic when he received the offer. He replied, “This is a blessing.” “I’m most looking forward to meeting new people and taking advantage of the opportunities that will be presented to me.”
Previously, Mr. Harrison had ruled out college due to the expense, he said. He intended to stay at Waffle House for the foreseeable future, with the possibility of joining the military later.
The scholarship was “the crowning moment” for Mr. Hampton, since “here is a kid who wasn’t even thinking about college, and now, there are doors opening up that he never even considered.”
Mr. Harrison and Mr. Hampton had a tour of the college campus together on June 10th. They discussed different programs and housing alternatives with administrators. In the autumn, Mr. Harrison intends to study business and computer science.
“He tugged at my heart when he told us that this was life-changing for him, and it’s something that will give him an opportunity that he would never have,” Anthony said during the tour. “It takes a village, as I told Timothy, and we want him to know that we are his village right now.”
Mr. Harrison’s metaphorical village goes beyond the college, with his Waffle House family providing unwavering support.
Mr. Hampton said, “I am his full-time mentor.” “I am very optimistic about what is about to happen to him. And I’ll be there for you every step of the way.”