Evoni Williams says she was just doing her job. But what she did made a lot of people take notice.
78-year-old diner Adrien Charpentier needed a little help cutting up his breakfast at a Texas Waffle House restaurant. Williams could have simply ignored his situation. Instead, she quietly took charge and helped him enjoy his meal without calling attention to herself.
However, fellow diner Laura Wolf was paying attention and snapped a photo of the interaction. Wolf posted the photo on Facebook, where it quickly went viral.
"This may seem small but to him, I'm sure it was huge," she wrote. "I'm thankful to have seen this act of kindness and caring at the start of my day while everything in this world seems so negative."
Photo: Laura Wolf
Williams had been saving money so she could eventually attend college. But her wait was suddenly over.
Williams had been working full-time at Waffle House since last year, steadily saving money for college since graduating high school and planning to study business management. After the Facebook photo went viral, the local mayor of her town dedicated March 8, 2018, in her honor.
"This is probably more of a lifestyle of Evoni," Mayor Bobby Hocking said. "Because she does this from her heart. It just so happens somebody got a picture of this one time of many."
And then something even more incredible happened: Texas Southern University offered her a $16,000 scholarship along with the aid of a counselor to help her enroll at the university.
Her combination of customer service and compassion struck a chord.
We all have stories about bad customer service. That's part of why someone so selflessly going out of their way to help a customer resonates on an emotional level. Wolf's photo at the time of this post has already been shared more than 54,000 times across Facebook.
It also doesn't hurt that Williams so clearly made a difference in the day of Charpentier, a stranger she could have simply passed by while going about her work.
Seemingly anonymous acts often reveal everything about our character.
When interviewed about it, she simply explained the act as "something I would do any other day." It's easy enough to look good when we know the cameras are on and the world is watching. But volunteering our time and energy to help out a stranger when there's nothing to gain or prove is truly an admirable act, even in the seemingly smallest of moments.
The outpouring of support Williams got on social media has directly led to her life potentially being changed in a meaningful way. And that makes an already inspiring story into something much bigger and better.