At one particular McDonald’s drive-in in Boise, Idaho, a woman is spreading happiness with simple acts of kindness. Valerie LaChapelle works the morning shift at the McDonald’s and has been known for spreading infectious happiness to all who come to her window.
LaChapelle is a former methamphetamine addict. But she’s turned her life around and is now giving back in ways many can’t believe. LaChapelle has been known to wear clown noses at the drive-through window to make children laugh, and she has paid out of her pocket many times for food a customer cannot afford. Her friendly service has made her something of an institution at McDonald’s. And that’s all it took, small simple acts of kindness done only because she wanted to help someone, for an anonymous person to offer to pay for her dental work.
Her “drive-thru miracle,” as she calls it, was an anonymous donation from a customer to pay for the much needed dental work she has to have done. LaChapelle estimates the cost of her dental work at $6,000 to $8,000. Her former meth addiction did major damage to her teeth; only eight were left. Addiction to methamphetamines cost her not only her teeth but five years in prison. After being released, she lived in a shelter and a halfway house and worked three jobs to pay her fines and restitution leaving nothing left to take care of her own teeth. When she smiled, something she does a lot at the drive-thru, she covered her mouth and an anonymous customer took notice and offered to pay for all the dental work she would need so she can share her smile more. Until then, she has temporary dentures.
And she isn’t quiet about her addiction either. In fact, she uses her addiction experiences to help others, especially parents of young people who become addicted to drugs or alcohol.
“I’ve gone to Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with them [addicts]. I’ve talked to parents who thought they’d done something wrong with their kids and helped them realize it wasn’t their fault, that doing drugs or alcohol is a choice people make on their own. I took them to Al Anon meetings where they learned that it wasn’t their fault that their kids were addicted and learned to help the kids make better choices.”
The bubbly and happy McDonald’s worker explained that kindness was infectious. Once others heard that she was truly helping those who are less fortunate, others began to go out of their way to get to her McDonald’s window to share their stories of miracles with her. At LaChappelle’s window, miracle stories are heard every day.
“One woman told me she had four kids and was walking everywhere she needed to go with the kids because she didn’t have a car. Somebody saw her walking with the kids every day and felt bad for her so they gave her a car.” Another customer told her that “his son wanted to play T-ball but they couldn’t afford it. He was explaining to his son that they didn’t have the money, and somebody overheard and gave him the money so his little boy could play.”
“I bought breakfast today for a guy who’d forgotten his wallet,” LaChapelle said. “The next time he came back, he brought me a card and gave me a $50 gift certificate. I don’t expect that. I don’t expect anyone to even pay me back. That’s not why I do it. When people do pay me back, and they usually do, I just save it for the next person who forgets their wallet.
“ … Today I had eight cars in a row pay for each other’s meals. It starts with one person. I say that the person in front of you paid for your breakfast, and they say they’ll pay for the person’s behind them. People say they never would have expected that at McDonald’s, but it happens all the time here.”
What LaChappelle is describing, is often known as the “ripple effect,” and one doesn’t need to look further than her drive-through window to see it in full swing.
“I’ve been offered jobs at other restaurants and at a hotel for $11 or $12 an hour, but I don’t see any sense in changing. I love my job. I just think I belong at McDonald’s.”
It’s an understatement to say that she’s turned her life around and helped many others in the process. Now another kind person has offered her thousands of dollars so she can confidently smile at the good she helps spread.
It’s easy to vote for the “good” and force others to do it for you, but what LaChappelle is doing, is really changing lives for the better through voluntary human interaction lead by kindness.
“ … My main focus now is just to be kind to people. You never know what one little thing can do.” -Valerie LaChappelle
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Contributed by Dawn Luger of The Daily Sheeple.