Smithfield waitress was 'perfect person' for this random act of kindness

ABC11 Together highlights the strength of the human spirit, good deeds, community needs, and how our viewers can help
SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's been a whirlwind of a week for SoDoSoPa in Smithfield. On Monday, the restaurant closed its dining room and moved to take-out orders only. Then on Wednesday, something happened that a customer, a server and the Smithfield community will always remember.

"This quote from Arthur Ashe that says start where you are, use what you have and do what you can," said local musician Nathan Sheppard, "that just kind of resonated with me once restaurants started shutting down."

Sheppard took his talents to Facebook Live, playing his guitar and asking for donations to help out someone in need.


In one day, Sheppard raised $235, which he used to tip a local waitress. By chance, that person ended up being SoDoSoPa worker Jessica Young, a single mother of three who is waiting for a new kidney and pancreas.

Nathan Sheppard left the money people donated as a tip on his order.

Bridget Condon

"I cried," Young said. "I waited tables and bartended for quite a long time and nothing like that has ever happened so I was very gracious."

Sheppard didn't stick around to see those tears.

"I didn't want to see her response," Sheppard said. "I wrote a note on the back of the check and left it in the book and walked out. I didn't want to see her face. I wanted her to enjoy that moment.

"It wasn't about me. All the other people that donated, those are the real heroes," Sheppard said. "To know that maybe that was a little weight taken off her shoulders ... mission accomplished."

After Sheppard left that night, the restaurant owner Tracey O'Dowd sent him a text that said "I pray every day, but tonight after you left I dropped to my knees and sobbed while I thanked God for providing to my employees what I could not."

"One outpouring of support is amazing," O'Dowd said. "This was the perfect person for this gift to end up with."

Young, who has Type-1 diabetes, is at the top of the list for that new kidney and pancreas, but she recently received news she wouldn't be able to have the surgery because of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Nathan Sheppard said he hopes to continue doing acts of kindness and that others will join in.

Bridget Condon

It made Sheppard's act of kindness that much more meaningful.

"It helps me tremendously," she said. "Worrying about everyone being taken care of and my kids, it's just a relief."

Sheppard said he hopes to continue doing acts of kindness like this one each week for as long as possible to help the community get through this together.

"I was the rock that was thrown in the pond," he said. "I want to create a ripple effect. I would love to see other people doing this."
Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.