$700 tip shocks Vancouver waitress

Mint Tea patron tells WSUV student to use it to start jewelry-making business

By Stevie Mathieu, Columbian assistant metro editor

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Restaurant server Rosie Salice was happy to receive a customer's compliment on her raw crystal necklace, a piece of jewelry she made by hand, but the customer's kindness on Sunday didn't stop there.

When it came time to pay the tab, the customer gave Salice a $700 check. Met with a shocked expression, the customer told Salice she should use the money to start the jewelry-making business Salice had mentioned when waiting on the generous stranger.

"I was just completely overwhelmed," Salice said Monday. "I didn't know what to say, so I just gave her a hug and I started crying."

Salice, 22, is a student at Washington State University Vancouver, where she's studying psychology and addiction. Salice aspired to join the U.S. Air Force, but that dream fizzled when she was diagnosed last year with spina bifida, a birth defect that occurs when the spinal column does not close completely. She recently started making jewelry with her sister as a hobby and hoped it could turn into a side business.

She mentioned her jewelry-making goals to the charitable customer on Sunday afternoon, while waiting tables at Mint Tea, a bistro and specialty shop in Vancouver's Uptown Village. After learning Salice had made her own necklace, the customer encouraged Salice to sell her jewelry.

"I just told her, 'I tried, but my friends can't really afford to buy my crafting hobby,'" Salice recalled. The customer told Salice she would be willing to pay $100 for a necklace like it. Salice blushed, felt a boost of self-esteem from the customer's kind words and went on waiting tables.

"I just thought it was a sweet compliment," Salice said, adding that she had no idea the customer would also give her a check. She said the most inspirational part about receiving the money is that it came from a stranger who saw potential in her.

Along with the check, "she handed me this note with her name and her address and her phone number," Salice said. "It said at the bottom: 'I believe in you.'"

The woman who gave Salice the check, RuthAnne, was from Wyoming and visiting family in Vancouver. Salice declined to share RuthAnne's full name because "I think she was trying to do a silent good deed," she said.

Salice said she plans to put the $700 entirely toward her jewelry-making company, buying a business license, new supplies, tools and maybe even a trademark name. In the future, she hopes to sell her jewelry at a local Saturday market. Salice makes her jewelry by taking either synthetic or natural crystals, about an inch long, and decoratively wrapping them with metal wire. The crystals are sometimes placed on a beaded cord.

"Before it just seemed like a dream, something you just talk about," Salice said. Now, "I have nothing that's holding me back."

Salice's family also was moved by the kindness of the stranger. Salice's mother, Maria Davis, said she wanted to help support her daughter's jewelry-making aspirations, but the family just didn't have the money.

When Salice came home with the check, "all we could do was just stare at it as a family," Davis said. "I hope this story will give other people hope. There are fine, fine people in this world."