Angela Nguyen delivers pizza for Dominos, and over the years she has interacted with customers from all walks of life. For Nguyen, it’s not just dropping off a pizza and saying “$17.95,” it’s about getting to know the people in her community and connecting with people. It’s about helping those in their time of need.
So when she got a delivery order for one Lee Haase, she couldn’t leave what she saw alone.
The 76-year-old Haase was living in a 12-foot long camper that was practically falling apart—just as he was.
His home had been severely damaged in a storm, and his son passed away afterwards in a snowmobile accident. Torn apart by grief, Haase couldn’t bring himself to make repairs or seek help.
The balmy weather meant Haase was still okay for a bit, but when Nguyen asked him what he was going to do for the winter, he said, “I’m not sure yet.”
He had no heat, no running water, no plumbing.
“Lee has told me that he’s pretty much given up on life,” said Nguyen. But she couldn’t give up on him.
But when Nguyen heard that, it was just “unacceptable to me.”
It was winter now, and she couldn’t just let this old man live without the basic necessities every human deserves.
“He’s a human being. He deserves to live like everybody else,” Nguyen said.
“There’s no way someone can live like that,” she said. “So you step in and you do what you’ve got to do.”
So she bought him a heater, and then set up a GoFundMe page hoping the community could contribute to fixing up his home. “I thought, we got to do something,” she told KARE. “We can’t let a human being live like this.”
Donations poured in from people who hadn’t even heard of Haase, from as far as Australia. And before the end of the year, they had raised $32,000. Enough to buy him a new home.
Haase was completely stunned. Once the new home was ready, Nguyen drove him to its location, then opened the door to a living room full of neighbors who had brought him new furnishings and necessity items.
Just in time for Christmas.
“It’s wonderful,” Haase told KARE, his voice full of emotion. “I’m so grateful for the people doing this.”
The love and support of the community didn’t just provide Haase with a new house—it returned to him the heart to connect with people, which he needed after his son had passed. Haase had been down, and needed the help of his fellow community members to get back up again.
“It’s hard to explain [how I feel],” said Haase. “Just pretty awesome.”
Watch the moment Haase sees his new home for the first time in the video below:
“We all benefited,” Nguyen said afterward. Every single person who contributed got something out of it, she felt.
This isn’t the first time Nguyen has gone out of her way to deliver goodwill to those she meets on the job.
Before Nguyen started delivering pizzas, she worked for a nurse organization and did housekeeping for people with AIDS and HIV. After her department closed she was offered a position with hospice, but she had a daughter who had just died recently and it felt too close and too difficult. She needed to leave.
She started delivering pizzas afterward because the hours were flexible, but as she got into it she started getting to know the people she delivered to on a personal basis.
“[One] customer’s daughter just had surgery for Crohn’s disease and was very, very ill and the mother was out of work,” Nguyen told The Atlantic. So she started a GoFundMe for the mother and daughter. “We are getting enough donations that her mother doesn’t have to work right now. She can just stay at home and take care of her daughter.”
“You become an acquaintance, and then sometimes, a friend,” she said. “Sometimes, we’re kind of like your bartender: If a a customer is having a bad day, you might hear about it, and you listen. You might maybe bring a pizza to 7- or 8-year-old girl’s birthday party, and just singing to them might just really make their day.”