“I’m Just So Thankful.” Customer Surprises Hardworking Employee With Brand New Home.

Ebony Johnson hugs Suzanne Burke

Every morning, Suzanne Burke looked forward to seeing the cheerful, smiling face of Ebony Johnson at her local Dunkin’ Donuts.

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Suzanne stopped at the Mount Healthy, Ohio coffee shop every day and had struck up a casual friendship with the worker. When Ebony disappeared from the drive-thru for several weeks last March, Suzanne grew concerned.

When Ebony finally returned, Suzanne asked her where she had been. That’s when she learned that her friend, a single mom of three, had been struggling financially for well over a year. In March 2020, Ebony was evicted from her apartment. She and her kids had been crowding into various family members’ homes for going on 2 years, and she was desperate to find stable and affordable housing.

“I wanted to give up,” Ebony recalled. “I cried. I come to work every day and nobody knows what I’m going through because I always try to have a smile for our customers.”

Suzanne was upset to learn all that Ebony and her kids were going through. She offered to help, and when Ebony accepted, she burst into action! Suzanne had worked with social services before in her career, so she started contacting resources around Cincinnati to see what could be done to help.

Suzanne reached out to Strategies to End Homelessness, a Cincinnati-based organization that runs on private donations, the city of Cincinnati, and the United Way. They were able to secure an apartment for Ebony!

But Suzanne wasn’t finished! Realizing Ebony had no belongings or furnishings, she contacted her friend, Jo Potvin, who owns the real estate staging company Design to Market. Between Jo’s company and New Life Furniture Bank, they were able to fully furnish Ebony’s new place and hire a handyman to fix any problems before the family even moved in.

“The level of excitement that I and my whole team had to prepare for that day and that moment, I honestly don’t think it could be any more impactful,” said Jo. “To not only see Ebony’s enduring effort through so much adversity, but also what a great mother to raise such incredible children is just amazing.”

Nine months after offering to help, Suzanne and Jo were there to welcome Ebony and her kids to their new home. Ebony was in tears as she toured her clean, comfortable new apartment, and her kids were positively beaming with joy.

“Oh my God, it was so amazing, I just busted out crying,” Ebony said. “I never had a full furnished house. I never had help like this. I had been asking God to put us in a home before Christmas, and He really did. I’m just so thankful.”

“It was so exciting, we all cried,” Suzanne recalled “I’ve got three kids, and I can’t imagine not having a home to go to and then to have to get up, get the kids to school, and show up at work with a positive, happy attitude? I’ve been in awe of her.”

This family has been through so much, but 21 months after becoming homeless, they are looking forward to celebrating Christmas in their very own home! All thanks to a kind and observant customer who simply couldn’t look the other way when a friend was in need.

Share this story to thank Suzanne for finding the resources to help this family.

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