Andreas Graf was moved to tears when he learned what his colleagues had done for him.
“Without this tremendous support, I would be without a job now,” said the 36-year-old assembly worker from Fronhausen, Germany, who went through one tribulation after another over the past year.
In January 2017, Graf’s 3-year-old son, Julius, was diagnosed with leukemia and needed intensive treatment. Graf used up all his leave to care for Julius. Then he went to the human resources manager at his company, Pia Meier, and informed her he needed to quit his job.
But Meier refused to let him go.
“I did not accept the notice and told him we’d find a solution,” she said, Stern reported.
She consulted with the management and the works council and came up with an idea: Employees could donate their overtime or holidays to Graf.
The plan was announced to all of the almost 700 employees of the aluminium design and production company, Seidel, and its subsidiary, Carus, which produces LED lights.
“The reaction of our employees was incredible,” Meier said, the Oberhessische Presse reported.
Within two weeks, people donated 3,264.5 overtime hours.
Everybody donated, Meier said. Even people who didn’t know Graf. Even interns.
“I did not have to think for a second to help Andreas,” said Ikbal Sezer, one of the employees, Hessenschau reported. Sezer received help himself only a few months ago after his house burned down. Coworkers raised money for him and the company matched the donations.
For Graf, the donated overtime added up to a 21-month leave, but he had 1,000 hours paid out instead to rebuild his home and take his son out of the hospital.
In October, just as he was expecting to have Julius back home, another blow came: Julius’s mother died of a heart condition. She lived apart from Graf.
Julius is now 5 years old. He’s back home and doing well for now, though still on chemotherapy. Graf’s biggest concern is a relapse. Still, he wants to keep a positive outlook on the future. He’s working again, if only part-time, and expects to turn full time as Julius should soon return to pre-kindergarten.