In a striking example of poetic justice, a US teenager who says she was fired from 7-Eleven for giving a cup of coffee to a homeless man has landed a new job within days—at a homeless-services organisation.
“My lesson learned is that good deeds pay off,” Ava Lins, 19, told Yahoo! Shine.
“Do what you believe is the right thing, and stand up for what you believe in. Only good things will come of it.”
The story began last Thursday, when Lins, a clerk at 7-Eleven in Salem,Massachusetts, says she began chatting with a customer about how he didn’t know where he was going to sleep on that freezing night.
Lins, who immediately empathised given her own recent struggles with being homeless, gave him a small cup of coffee.
“It directly influenced my decision,” she says.
When storeowner Romany Youseff appeared and allegedly accosted the man, demanding to know if he had paid for it, Lins lied and told her boss that he had.
She fessed up the next day and paid for the $1 coffee herself, but, she says, she was soon fired.
That’s when Lins, nearly out of money and wanting her job back, took to social media and contacted local news stations to get her story told. Kudos and job offers began streaming in, including a Facebook message from Citizens for Adequate Housing in Peabody.
“Our mission is about restoring hope and dignity to homeless families, and what she was able to do with a simple cup of coffee was just that. It was very inspiring,” Executive Director Corey Jackson told Yahoo! Shine.
“We want more of that in the world.”
Jackson asked Lins for her resume, as his organization was about to list an opening for a part-time administrative assistant position. She responded right away, went in for an interview on Tuesday, and left with the job, which she started on Wednesday.
“We loved her,” Jackson says, adding that he hopes the job develops into a bigger position for Lins. “I feel like this all fell into place for a reason.”
As for Youseff, after first telling WCVB that he could not allow employees like Lins to "steal," he has since told various media outlets that he was fine to forget the whole coffee incident, and that Lins could have her job back. Contacted by Yahoo! Shine, Youseff says, “She’s lying in her story. I did not fire her.”
Social-media reaction has been supportive of Lins. Tweets on the topic include, “The owner of the 7-Eleven store was cruel and heartless!” and Facebook comments, particularly those on the 7-Eleven page, have been similar.
“That was just cruel & inhumane, not to mention downright greedy,” wrote one critic. Meanwhile, a fan of Lins’s wrote on her page that she was “a blessing from God doing what she did to help out a homeless person.”
Either way, Lins says she did not want to continue working for Youseff, and that she’s thrilled with the outcome — especially after being kicked out of her mother’s house at the age of 18, during what she calls “just a bad time in my life.”
She spent time living in her car and couch surfing at friends’ apartments and is now living with her boyfriend. Lins says she is ready to focus on homeless advocacy.
“I am so excited to be a part of their cause.”