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News / Business / Clark County Business

Facebook photo of Dutch Bros. employees praying with woman goes viral

She was distraught over husband's death the night before

By Adam Littman, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: March 22, 2016, 8:20pm
5 Photos
A picture of employees from a Vancouver Dutch Bros. on Northeast 138th Avenue consoling a customer went viral on Facebook after it was posted Saturday.
A picture of employees from a Vancouver Dutch Bros. on Northeast 138th Avenue consoling a customer went viral on Facebook after it was posted Saturday. (Courtesy of Barbara Danner's Facebook page) Photo Gallery

Evan Freeman was working at the Dutch Bros. drive-thru on Northeast 138th Avenue on Friday when he saw one of his co-workers outside talking to a woman in line, and both of them had “faces of discomfort.”

His co-worker came in and said the woman was upset because her husband died the night before and she didn’t know what to do. The Dutch Bros. workers, however, did.

“We showed her some love,” said Freeman, 21, who has worked at the 2610 N.E. 138th Ave., Vancouver, location for about six months. “We started talking to her, letting her know she has support and wishing happy things on her. We just wanted to make her feel better in any way we could.”

The woman stayed at the window for about 10 minutes talking to Freeman, Peirce Dunn and Jacob Hancock, and, at one point, reached out her window and joined in a prayer circle with the employees. Barbara Danner, who was in her car behind the woman in line, snapped a photo of the circle and posted it to the Dutch Bros. main Facebook page on Saturday, where it has taken off. As of 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, her post had 197,500-plus likes and more than 7,500 comments, and 64,800-plus people have shared it.

“I found out this morning that it went viral,” said Jessica Chudek, the owner of that Dutch Bros. drive-thru, as well as the one on Southeast Mill Plain Boulevard. “I saw the post on the Dutch Bros. Facebook, and at first didn’t realize it was our location. I just thought it was a beautiful story.”

Chudek said Tuesday wasn’t noticeably busier at the 138th Avenue location, although it was a pretty exciting day, with many customers asking about the picture.

“A lot of people came out to show their support and tell us they were proud to be our customers,” she said.

Chudek said she spoke to Danner and the woman in the photo since it went viral, and they were both excited the story was spreading. She added that the location is keeping the name of the woman in the photo private for now until she decides if she wants to come forward publicly.

While she was surprised at how widespread the picture went, Chudek wasn’t surprised by the actions of her employees.

“We encourage them to pour love out of that window in whatever way is comfortable for them,” she said. “I don’t think this was a religious thing. It was just something this woman needed at that time.”

Freeman said he and his fellow Dutch Bros. employees huddle together to talk to customers all the time, and they often end up talking to people about their lives. Sometimes it’s sad things, sometimes happy and sometimes they just let the customers vent.

Dunn, 19, a first-year student at Clark College, said the woman was “extremely grateful” by the end of her talk with the Dutch Bros. employees, and she seemed to gather herself a bit and start thinking about what to do next.

After she drove off, Dunn said the employees took a moment to let themselves breathe. They didn’t want to drag anyone’s day down, but they knew they had a line of customers to go back to helping. Freeman said after the woman left, the employees kept apologizing to the other customers for the wait, but many of them said they saw what happened and weren’t mad at all.

“It was just us being genuine,” Dunn said. “I think here at Dutch Bros. the expectation is that we’re going to be genuine with these people because we are. We care for other people.”

Columbian Staff Writer