It all started at the Waffle House in La Marque, Texas. For this waitress, it was just a regular, busy morning serving breakfast and coffee to her customers. But little did she know that a chain of events that would change her life forever was just around the corner. A seemingly small gesture that wasn’t part of her job description was secretly caught on camera by a nearby restaurant patron who saw what she was up to. The video and photos were uploaded to social media, they went totally viral, and now, let’s just say the waitress won’t be living the same life anymore.
Ready to hear the story? Click next to find out what this waitress did that caused her actions to go viral and her life to be changed. Spoiler alert: it involves an elderly patron’s breakfast.
Setting the Scene
So the story goes like this… Struggling to save for college, waitress Evoni Williams gets to work on a Saturday morning. It’s busy and hectic. Customers are flooding in from all angles. Waffles are flying out of the kitchen.
For Evoni (also known to friends and coworkers as ‘Nini’), it’s fairly normal. But other patrons begin to notice the pressure she’s under to keep everyone happy. One such patron goes by the name of Laura Wolf.
Something Seems… Different
Laura Wolf is a regular customer at the La Marque Waffle House. She often goes in for a cup of joe and a friendly chat with the staff. Most of her trips to the Waffle House are generally the same-old. Nothing especially out of the ordinary.
But, on this particular day, it was different. As she was enjoying her Saturday morning breakfast, Wolf caught something out of the corner of her eye that prompted her to push the plate aside and quickly grab her phone. She sneakily began recording the waitress, Evoni, who had no idea that anyone was watching (let alone recording) what she was doing.
Busier than Usual
A few minutes before she began recording the act, Wolf looked around and noticed how it was particularly busy on this day. The small city of around 16,000 had always flocked to The Waffle House on weekends, making it a popular breakfast spot.
But, this morning was even crazier. It was almost as if everyone who lived there planned on heading in for waffles! Laura sat watching all the staff. Every single server in the Waffle House was scrambling, trying to keep up with the breakfast orders flying in during the morning rush. But, that Saturday morning wasn’t only remarkable because it was busy.
As a local and frequent customer of this Waffle House, Laura Wolf had gotten to know some of the staff, mainly through conversation. One of the waitresses she saw running around pouring coffee and trying to keep patrons happy this morning was Evoni Williams.
Evoni Williams was a long-time employee of the restaurant and had been a waitress there for a few years by this point. All of her co-workers and customers knew her to be a hard worker.
Doing It Tough
At just 18 years old, Evoni had been working extremely hard to fulfill her dream of going to college. She dedicated herself to working long hours at the restaurant so she could save up enough money to get a higher education.
Unfortunately, she hadn’t been able to save very much yet. She was saving every penny, but it just wasn’t adding up. All those long hours, busy shifts, and running around keeping her customers happy were yet to pay off. But soon enough, none of that would matter anymore.
Working Hard as Laura Kept Watching
As normal, Evoni arrived to work that morning expecting to leave with a few tips in her pocket. But when she realized how many customers were waiting for a table, she knew it was going to be better than average.
Naturally, she was excited because tips are how servers make most of their pay. So she got to work, dashing from table to table taking orders, and ensuring everyone’s needs were met.
But as the restaurant was understaffed on this day, Evoni had to admit she was feeling the pressure.
The tips were coming in, but she was burning out and becoming a little overwhelmed. Then, as she was dropping an order off at a table, she noticed something out of the corner of her eye.
What Caught Her Attention?
Evoni had noticed a specific customer sitting at the bar table nearby who she recognized. Nothing struck her as particularly unusual, but she had seen him a fair amount of times at the restaurant, so he was what you could call ‘a regular’. His name was Adrien, an elderly man of 78 years who also went by the nickname, Mr. Karaoke.
The staff knew Adrien had some ongoing health problems, but he was always in high spirits. He entered the Waffle House restaurant at around 10 am that morning — about the same time he normally arrived for his breakfast — carrying an oxygen tank. While everything seemed ordinary, what Evoni did next was unexpected.
Evoni Gets Flagged Down
Even as Adrien entered and sat down at the restaurant, Evoni continued rushing around serving other customers. Balancing plates in one hand, cups in the other, and taking mental notes of new orders, she didn’t have a spare minute to greet him. But just as she felt as though she was getting on top of her duties, Adrien attempted to catch her attention. When Evoni noticed that he’d been trying to flag her down, she quickly attended to him.
Walking over to the bar area where he was sitting, she stopped just behind his chair to see what he needed. The elderly man then began to whisper something to Evoni in a quiet voice, so that nobody else around could hear. Remember, Evoni didn’t know she was being secretly recorded by another customer (Laura). Then, she did something that she never knew would be shown to the world and change her life forever.
The Camera Captured It All
Secret filmer, Laura Wolf, was sitting in a nearby booth. She could see the full situation unfolding, but couldn’t quite hear what they were saying. To see if she could catch a little hint of the interaction, she shuffled a little closer.
She had an instinct that something was different. Noticing that the elderly man looked a bit embarrassed as the Waffle House waitress leaned in to listen to him, Laura knew she was witnessing something quite interesting. “It was so busy in here, and she actually took the time to stop and hear what he had to say instead of walking past him. That just meant something to me,” Wolf told KHOU-TV.
Not Quite Understanding
During a breakfast rush at a crowded restaurant, it can be difficult to hear anyone’s voice above the hum. And when an elderly man on oxygen is whispering to you, it can be especially challenging. The sounds of patrons, clattering utensils, and a busy kitchen were drowning out Adrien’s voice, and Evoni was trying particularly hard to understand him.
Just as Evoni leaned in to listen a little closer, one of the line cooks began yelling at her from the kitchen. He noticed that Evoni was holding things up, which couldn’t happen during a busy breakfast rush, so he called out her name and tried getting her attention. But Evoni just ignored him, acting as if he wasn’t there. Finding out what Adrien, the elderly man, needed was more important.
Was There a Problem with His Food?
Evoni’s first thought was that the regular patron of the restaurant was unhappy with his food and wanted to make a complaint. Most of the time she was flagged down for that reason. However, Evoni continued listening with a smile before the elderly man pushed his breakfast plate towards her.
Evoni grabbed the plate, which was piled up with eggs, ham, toast, and fries, but she didn’t take it back to the kitchen. Instead, she slid it closer in her direction, then, shortly after, passed it right back to him. What was happening?
It seems like this whole ordeal went on for ages, but it only took about a minute out of Evoni’s busy morning. At that moment, it was if no one else in the room existed. She was focused solely on Adrien.
And while she acted like no one else was there (or watching), that was definitely not the case. Laura was still sitting across from them, secretly recording the whole thing and trying to see exactly what was happening. But, her camera wasn’t the only one recording the interaction between Evoni and Adrien that day.
The Forgotten Security Camera
While Laura watched on with her phone in hand, there was another video of Evoni’s behavior being recorded at the same time. Security cameras are highly important in busy restaurants like this Waffle House, and they do come in quite handy when moments like this take place. The Waffle House security camera, which was hanging from the ceiling, caught a birds-eye view of Evoni walking up to the old man’s seat, leaning in closer to hear his request, not paying any attention to the cooks yelling at her, and taking the plate.
The video footage also showed Evoni leaning behind the counter like nothing had happened, so it might have looked like she was doing nothing. Fortunately, later on, the Waffle House management was able to see what actually occurred from the footage. And soon enough, the Internet was able to see it too!
The Scene Goes Online
After Evoni had given Adrien’s plate back to him over the bar, she went about her day as usual, not thinking anything of the exchange. Laura, on the other hand, was shocked, to say the least. She’d been recording the entire time, and had video evidence of what went down. The only problem? She had no idea what to do with it.
After seeing what had just happened, Laura was sure that the things she saw needed to be shared, but she couldn’t choose who to send the video and photos to. She decided that she would post about it online – Facebook, to be specific. She was totally unaware of the consequences.
The Things Adrien Said
This whole ordeal started with a simple question from Adrien to Evoni. Adrien felt somewhat self-conscious amongst the crowd of people that was dining at the Waffle House. He had been experiencing problems with his health that started with pneumonia.
He found that he was unable to do some of his everyday activities. He told ABC News that he’s able to hold a fork with no problem, but struggles to cut his food with a knife. He wanted to cut his ham, so he asked Evoni for help. It was this interaction between customer and waitress that changed Evoni’s life.
Cut and Dice
Later that day, Evoni described what she had done to the news station. Evoni told reporters that Adrien had asked for help cutting his food because his hands weren’t working very well. She leaned in and helped him out, going about her day as usual straight afterward.
Evoni took the plate, cut his food, gave it back to him, and moved on as if nothing had happened. To her, this small act of kindness was part of her job, and she had no problem doing it. She had no idea that Laura filmed the whole thing, and that she had quickly gone viral.
Laura felt that it would be a good idea to get word out of what Evoni had done and that the best way to do that was through Facebook. In her post, Laura wrote, “I don’t know her name, but I heard this elderly man tell her his hands don’t work too good.
He was also on oxygen and had difficulty breathing. Without hesitation, she took his plate and began cutting his ham.” In her post, Laura said that, while it might seem like a small gesture, he must have appreciated it greatly. She went on to say that she was grateful to be able to witness the act of kindness. Her post quickly went viral.
Spreading Like Wildfire
Seconds after Laura puts her phone away, it starts to blow up. As she ate her breakfast, her phone notifications kept coming in. There was constant feedback, and some people commented on the post to praise the waitress, while others shared it to their pages to spread the news.
Laura ended the post with the message, “If we could all be like this waitress and take time to offer a helping hand…” Little did she know, she had just helped Evoni out big time. Nobody, not Laura, or Evoni, or Adrien, could have expected what happened next.
Evoni the Local Celebrity
A few days after the post had been shared, it went completely viral. It had received over 90,000 likes and 47,000 shares from people all over the country giving Evoni praise for her act of kindness.
The hearts of thousands were warmed by the short clip of this Waffle House waitress. Evoni said that someone told her a few days later that she had become very popular because of Facebook. It would seem that everyone in town, and people throughout the country, had seen the photo when it went viral. That’s when a highly-influential citizen decided to do something.
The Mayor Comes Around
There were only about 16,000 people living in La Marque, Texas, and all of them seemed to be talking about Evoni. They had heard plenty about her gesture of kindness that was secretly recorded, and even the mayor had caught wind of the situation. When Bobby Hocking heard the news, he decided to meet with Evoni.
She knew that the Mayor was going to visit her, and so did the news reporters – there were cameras everywhere. The mayor wasn’t just going to visit Evoni and leave. Oh no, he had something much bigger planned for this waitress.
Now that camera crews had occupied all of the booths and tables at the Waffle House, and with reporters everywhere, Evoni knew that she was being recorded and that her face was going to be all over the news for some time. Everyone was there to see Evoni get honored by the mayor for her kindness.
Nobody knew what would happen next. The mayor announced that he had a special proclamation to make. He announced that March 8th would be known as “Evoni ‘Nini’ Williams Day”. The young waitress had just had her very own day dedicated to her, but the mayor had one more thing up his sleeve for her.
Things Look Up for the Waitress
While this viral story was still making its way around the Internet, there would be another story going around about Evoni and her work as a Waffle House waitress. When more and more people started to hear about her, they also learned why she was at the Waffle House in the first place.
People had learned that she was working her hardest to save up enough money to pursue tertiary education. Residents of this small Texas town decided to start a GoFundMe account to help her raise enough money to pay for school. Their goal was $16,000. Apparently, many people learned about this fund, including someone very important.
College Becomes a Possibility
The GoFundMe was created as an effort to get Evoni to college quicker than she had hoped for. More and more people from her home town and across the US were donating to help her get where she wanted to go and put herself through college as she dreamed of doing.
Word of this fundraiser had reached Houston. Staff and Administrators at TSU had caught wind of what was happening, and decided that they wanted to help. So, that’s exactly what the college set out to do, and that’s what they did.
Hundreds of people had gone to the Waffle House as the Mayor gave Evoni her own day to honor her kindness. Laura and Adrien were both onlookers in the crowd as Evoni was overjoyed about getting her very own day. But there was someone else in the crowd, too.
The President of TSU was there, and he looked on in awe. He wanted to meet with the waitress and let her know that good deeds do not go unnoticed. He was finally able to meet with her, and by the end of their meeting, pretty much everyone was in tears.
Getting What She Deserves
The TSU president took up a place at the front of the restaurant to make another announcement. In front of her family, friends, and the mayor, Evoni was given a gift that she could never have asked for, and she could not have been more grateful for.
Then and there, the TSU president announced that Evoni would be receiving a $16,000 scholarship, with a massive check to prove it. Pretty much everyone was crying at this point, and many were wondering about how Laura felt about all this.
The People That Made It Happen
While Evoni was being handed her scholarship, Adrien and Laura had both teared up. Laura had no idea that what she had posted to Facebook would have this effect. Now she understood just how powerful being kind can be, and she would never forget what happened that day.
Adrien said that it meant a lot to him that Evoni stopped and listened to what he needed amidst the hustle and bustle of the busy Waffle House that day. Despite all of the rewards and honors, Evoni did not feel like she had done anything special – to her, being kind was part of her nature.
Kindness Pays Off
Even after all of this happened, Evoni did not think that she was anyone particularly special. She was just doing something for someone that needed her help, and she would do it again in a heartbeat. That’s what makes her special.
She says she would do what she did any other day. But for Adrien and Laura, who had been a part of this, she represented the beauty of stopping what you’re doing to help someone that needs you in the moment.