As a delivery driver, you can become very familiar with particular customers. Angela Nguyen and Sarah Hughes can certainly testify to that – and they had a customer named Lee Haase who they could expect regular orders from. However, when the pair took a closer look inside his trailer, they knew that they had to act quickly.
A resident of Ham Lake, Minnesota, Angela became a delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza back in 2013. Prior to that, she’d had a very different job working for Minnesota Visiting Nurses. Sadly for her, though, everything changed following a devastating personal loss.
“I did housekeeping for people with AIDS and HIV,” Angela recounted to The Atlantic in October 2016. “Then they closed my department. They offered me another position with [a] hospice, but I had a daughter that had died while I was working for Minnesota Visiting Nurses, and it was just too difficult for me to think of going to work with other people that were dying. So I left.”
Some months after that, Angela looked to get back to work in a part-time job despite caring for her grandchildren on a regular basis. With that in mind, she showed an interest in working for the same company as her oldest daughter, Sarah. This was in the hope that they could maintain their current routines, with different shifts allowing for constant childcare cover.
“I would help [Sarah] out quite a bit, watching her children,” Angela recalled to The Atlantic. “I got a job at Domino’s and worked the opposite hours of her. It was flexible enough for me to watch her kids while she worked and then for her to have her children when I went to work.”
As Angela settled into her new role, she soon became very familiar with one specific customer, who lived on the fringes of Anoka County, Minnesota. His name was Lee. “He likes to order every Saturday,” she told USA Today in December 2015. “About 10:15 a.m. you are going to get an order from Lee.”
However, in late 2015 Lee was the victim of an unimaginable chain of terrible events, leaving him heartbroken. Firstly, the elderly customer’s house was badly damaged following a storm, which made it uninhabitable. And then, tragically, his son passed away in a snowmobile accident. After that, he moved into a small trailer just outside his home.
Unfortunately for Lee, though, the trailer had no electricity, plumbing or heat, leaving him in a vulnerable position ahead of the winter months. However, it was when Sarah noticed his situation that she soon informed her mom. Unsurprisingly, when Angela received this news, she didn’t like what she heard.
“I thought, ‘We got to do something,’” Angela told USA Today. “We got to do something. We can’t let a human being live like this.” With that in mind, she bought a heater for Lee’s trailer and even decided to go a little further when delivering his pizzas every Saturday morning.
“[The pizzas are] what [Lee] would live on on the weekends because he was elderly and couldn’t get Meals on Wheels,” Angela told The Atlantic. “I would look forward to delivering to him and just being a little ray of sunshine to him every Saturday morning, saying, ‘How are you doing, Lee?’ Sometimes, I would stop at the store and grab him a hot cup of coffee and a doughnut before I’d go there with his pizza.”
Moreover, Angela’s work didn’t stop there, as she continued to search for ways to help Lee. “There’s no way somebody can live like that and be fine,” she said in a YouTube video produced by Humankind, a channel created by USA Today, in December 2015. “So you just step in, and you do what you got to do.”
With that in mind, Angela set up a GoFundMe page for Lee, leading to numerous contributions from across the world. “We got donations from as far as Australia,” the delivery driver told USA Today. Some two months after that, the page had raised more than a whopping $32,000. This impressive figure sparked the next phase of Angela’s ambitious plan.
Using that money, Angela bought her elderly customer a brand new home, while the local community kindly donated all the furnishings. The Humankind YouTube video, titled “Pizza delivery driver delivers new home to homeless man,” captured the moment when Lee finally saw the results of their incredibly hard work. Unsurprisingly, he was touched beyond words.
With Angela by his side, Lee is greeted by a number of local volunteers as he walks through the front door. When he is sat down and beginning to settle in and absorb his surroundings, Sarah gives him a warm hug. “You remember when this started, and I promised you we were going to help you?” she tearfully asks Lee during their embrace.
“It’s wonderful,” Lee later tells the camera crew. “I’m so grateful for [the] people doing this.” After that, Angela gives him a tour of the house, noting that he has plenty of food stored up in the kitchen. Incredibly, his new bedroom is the same size as his old trailer, while a message above the bed reads, “Joy, hope, love, peace, believe.”
The interior of the house can be seen covered in festive decorations, and the video closes with Lee and his new friends singing Christmas carols. Angela offers one last heartwarming message about the situation. “Every single one of us enjoyed doing this,” the thoughtful woman tells the camera crew. “This ain’t all for Lee. We all benefited.”
Indeed, while Lee now had a proper roof over his head for the winter, Angela continued to do good deeds for her other Domino’s regulars. “Another customer’s daughter just had surgery for Crohn’s disease and was very, very ill and the mother was out of work,” she told The Atlantic.
“I started a GoFundMe for her, and we are getting enough donations that her mother doesn’t have to worry about going back to work right now,” Angela continued. “She can just stay home and take care of her daughter.” As for Lee, his weekly routine actually changed following the move to his new home.
“[Lee] really stood out for quite some time and doesn’t order for delivery anymore because he’s got a stove and a refrigerator and a microwave,” Angela said of her former customer. “Yeah, he stood out for a very long time.”
While delivery drivers can become very familiar with certain customers, few can emulate the generosity of Domino’s employee Angela Nguyen. Alongside her daughter Sarah, she delivered something far greater than a pizza to Lee Haase in December 2015. She gave him a new place to call home.