After months of working long shifts as a Domino’s Pizza delivery driver, Angela Nguyen met a customer who needed help. This is the incredible story of how she went above and beyond to change his life forever.
Our story begins with a lady by the name of Angela Nguyen. Back in 2o15, the hard worker was living in Anoka County, Missouri, and working as a friendly pizza delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza.
It wasn’t a perfect job, but for a charismatic person like Angela, who genuinely enjoyed interacting with customers, it was good enough. She had a history of working for community initiatives and formerly worked as a carer for people with HIV and AIDS. As long as she was engaged with her community in some way, she was happy.
A Promising Offer
Though she had excelled in her former career, the department she worked for was forced to shut down. Angela was out of a job, and she needed to find something quickly. She began searching for gainful employment in Anoka County that would still allow her to help people.
In the following weeks, she not only found several open positions but she was offered work too. One of these positions fulfilled Angela’s requirements to a tee - it was in hospice care. But as perfect as it was, something was holding her back… a secret that she couldn’t escape.
A Tragic Secret
In a 2016 interview with The Atlantic, Angela recalled that the "[Bosses] offered me another position with [a] hospice." Part of her wanted to accept, as she knew it would be an ideal position for her. But in the end, she refused, unable to face the secret that still haunted her.
Years before, a terrible tragedy had befallen Angela and her family, one that had tainted hospice work for her forever. "I had a daughter that had died while I was working for Minnesota Visiting Nurses, and it was just too difficult for me to think of going to work with other people that were dying. So I left," she said.
A Sudden Solution
So Angela refused the job at the hospice, and she was back at square one. Her eldest daughter Sarah saw her mother's uncertainty and came to her with an idea. At the time, Sarah was working at the local Domino's store. They were always looking for delivery people - why didn't her mother apply?
At first, Angela didn’t know how the job would work for her. After all, she couldn’t see a direct way that pizza delivery would help to serve her community. She spent some time deliberating, and slowly she came around to the idea. While it wasn’t her usual type of work, it would help her family.
Trying Something New
And not just because of the extra money. Sarah also had children that needed a babysitter while she was on shift at Domino's. The mother-daughter duo realized that if they could arrange to work opposite shifts at the restaurant, they could ensure that at least one of them would be home at all times.
It was settled - Angela would take the job and become a part-time delivery driver for Domino’s Pizza. She quickly settled into a routine, and although the excessively long shifts were hard to get used to, she found that there were more advantages to the job than she expected.
A Special Customer
As a delivery person, Angela was in a customer-facing position, so she was regularly meeting and chatting with people in her town and neighborhood. Not only did it give her the ability to socialize, but she felt a sense of satisfaction seeing her customers smile when she brought them their meals.
And soon enough, she even had favorites. One, in particular, was a man named Lee Haase. He was a 76-year-old living just outside of Anoka County in a trailer home, and he ordered from Domino’s every single week. Every Saturday, he and Angela had the chance to chat.
Something Wasn’t Adding Up
Not only did Lee place his order every Saturday, but he also made the order at almost the exact same time. "He likes to order every Saturday," Angela recalled in an interview with USA Today in 2015. "About 10:15 a.m., you are going to get an order from Lee."
Lee was a kind and pleasant man, but Angela knew that things weren’t what they seemed. Even the outside of his little trailer didn’t seem quite right, though she could never have expected what lay inside the walls of Lee’s home. But let’s find out a little more about this mysterious man.
Trials & Tribulations
Up until Angela turned up on his doorstep with his weekly Domino’s order, Lee Haase had experienced more than his share of difficulty. In fact, for a long time, life had been a series of struggles. For example, the storm that had ravaged and destroyed his family home.
During a storm the year before, an enormous tree had been knocked into his house, causing so much damage that Lee had to move away because he couldn’t afford to fix it. The forced eviction led him to the tiny trailer where he lived alone outside of Anoka County. But his troubles didn’t end there.
Beyond The Surface
The same year that Lee moved into his trailer, he received some heartbreaking news - his son had tragically passed away while out in a snowmobile. The freak accident made everything worse. Lee had lost his home and his son, and his remaining happiness… he soon fell into a spiral of depression.
His grief was hard to see on the outside, however. Lee was always smiling, and he greeted both Angela and Sarah cheerfully whenever they pulled up to his trailer with a pizza order in hand. But on the inside, he was full of turmoil - and the interior of his trailer home reflected that.
Inside The Trailer
Every Saturday, either Angela or her daughter would take Lee’s order to his home. He would always meet them outside, so neither of them knew what his living situation was really like. But that all changed on one particular Saturday morning shift when Sarah arrived at the trailer.
This time Sarah went to meet Lee with his order, and her timing was such that she managed to see past the older man and inside his home. What she saw inside shocked her. While the trailer was old and worn-looking, it didn’t even compare to the inside.
Sarah finished her shift and rushed home, desperate to tell her mother what she had seen while visiting their favorite customer. Angela couldn’t believe what she was hearing. According to her eldest daughter, Lee Haas was living in heartbreaking conditions.
According to Sarah, the elderly man was living in a 10-foot trailer with no electricity. He had no lights, couldn’t use any electronic devices, and most importantly - there was no heating system. It also meant that he couldn’t even run an oven, a gas stovetop, or a microwave.
Only A Matter Of Time
To make matters worse, Lee had no access to heat and no plumbing either. This explained something that Angela had always wondered about - Lee’s weekly Domino’s order. It all began to make sense. Because he couldn’t cook for himself, he had to buy enough Domino’s to last him for a week.
But while his food situation was concerning, what worried Angela most was the lack of heating. How would Lee cope without a heat source when winter began? By now, she considered Lee not just a valued customer but a friend, and she knew that they needed to do something to help him.
Helping A Friend
In her interview with USA Today, Angela didn't beat around the bush. "I thought, 'We got to do something,'" she said. "We got to do something. We can't let a human being live like this." She began making plans. First, she bought him a heater, and second, she began to work on his food situation.
Eating Domino's pizza every day didn't seem right, but at that time, Lee didn't have any other viable options. "[The pizzas are] what [Lee] would live on on the weekends because he was elderly and couldn't get Meals on Wheels," she told The Atlantic. There had to be something else she could do.
Doing What She Can
"I would look forward to delivering to him and just being a little ray of sunshine to him every Saturday morning, saying, 'How are you doing, Lee?'" she continued. "Sometimes, I would stop at the store and grab him a hot cup of coffee and a doughnut before I'd go there with his pizza."
She started off small, but as time passed, she knew that more had to be done. She couldn’t bear the thought of her friend living in the run-down trailer indefinitely. He needed a new home. So she jumped online and set up a GoFundMe page so others could learn about the elderly man’s plight.
Angela could never have expected how much the news would spread. Her GoFundMe managed to raise awareness about Lee's situation even outside of the US! "We got donations from as far as Australia," she gushed. Here was proof that it wasn't just Angela and her daughter who cared about his wellbeing.
The success of her GoFundMe page meant that Lee could soon move out of his trailer and start again. Over the course of two months, Angela’s little crowdfunding project had raised over $32,000! This level of success was unprecedented - but Angela wasn’t going to stop there.
A New Home
Angela was able to use the proceeds from the GoFundMe page to move Lee from his dilapidated trailer to a new home. And if that wasn’t enough, she also reached out to the Anoka County community for furniture to complete his home. Over those weeks, countless people came forward with donations.
Word had spread so far about Lee’s story that the YouTube channel Humankind even filmed the moment when Angela and Sarah surprised their friend with his new home. After all of their hard work, his life had been completely transformed for the better. It was time for the big reveal.
The Big Reveal
Lee was taken to his new home by Angela, Sarah, and a team of volunteers who had helped to renovate and furnish the house in question. They all accompanied Lee and were able to experience his reaction firsthand as he looked over the home where he would spend the rest of his life.
Naturally, the older gentleman was shocked and overcome by the sight of his brand new home. Sarah came to him and offered a warm hug as she began to cry from the emotional moment. "You remember when this started," she said. "And I promised you we were going to help you?"
"I’m So Grateful"
As Lee gazed around at his new home, he struggled to find the words to describe how he felt. Once the shock had worn off, he had something to say. "It's wonderful," he told Sarah and the volunteers and camera crew. "I'm so grateful for [the] people doing this."
For Angela, Lee’s happiness meant the world, and she took his arm to show him the rest of his home. As it turned out, it wasn’t just furniture that had been stored inside - the team had also stocked the kitchen with plenty of food so he could prepare his own meals instead of relying on Domino’s pizza.
Life Will Never Be The Same
Lee’s new living situation was unrecognizable from how he had been living just months earlier. Now he had a stable roof over his head, central heating, and the equipment that he needed to feed himself. No longer would he have to use local fast-food restaurants as a means of survival.
It's safe to say that the older man's life had been completely transformed, and he would never have to return to that old 10-foot trailer. As can be seen in the video, Lee was blown away as he walked from room to room in his new home, full of all the amenities he could use to live a comfortable life.
Gratitude To Everyone
Though the kitchen and its cooking equipment were of paramount importance, Lee also had all of the additional luxuries and necessities of a modern home. He had a fully-functional bathroom and shower, with all of the plumbing and electricity intact.
He even had his own bedroom that was as big as his entire trailer had been! There was no denying that Lee was a very lucky man, and he owed it all to Angela, Sarah, and the people who had pitched in to help - from the volunteer builders to the local furniture-givers, to the strangers on GoFundMe.
A Christmas Blessing
All of these people had contributed so much just to make Lee’s life a little brighter, and they wanted one more sweet surprise to top off the day. So Angela and the team decided to adorn Lee’s home with Christmas decorations so they could all celebrate the incoming festive season together.
It was a lovely way of showing him that he wouldn’t be alone for the holidays, but it also served as a reminder of how bleak things could have been for Lee if he had stayed in the trailer for winter. He now had a warm and healthy home to get him through the colder weather.
Good Deeds All Around
And Lee was more than happy to embrace the Christmas spirit. In the Humankind video, we can see a sequence where the elderly man sings Christmas carols with the lovely volunteer group around him. And Angela had a final message to impart to the man they had done so much for.
It was a reminder that the good deed hadn't only touched him. "Every single one of us enjoyed doing this," she said to Lee and the camera crew. "This ain't all for Lee. We all benefited." And it was true - everyone in that room had come together to do something uplifting and inspiring.
What She Always Wanted
Though working as a Domino’s delivery driver hadn’t been exactly what she wanted, the new job brought Angela back to doing what she loved the most - helping members of her community. But even now that Lee was happy and homed, the determined woman wasn’t finished.
On each shift, she kept an eye out for customers who might be in need of help and quickly found someone else who was struggling. "Another customer's daughter just had surgery for Crohn's disease and was very, very ill, and the mother was out of work," she said in an interview with The Atlantic.
More Help On The Way
Angela wasted no time, quickly setting to work in a bid to help the family. And by now, she knew exactly what to do. “I started a GoFundMe for her, and we are getting enough donations that her mother doesn’t have to worry about going back to work right now,” Angela said proudly.
This simple gesture was going to make life much easier for the family, giving them more time and resources to take care of the unwell girl. "She can just stay home and take care of her daughter," Angela continued. There was no doubt about it - Angela's generosity was changing more lives than one.
Not Like the Others
But in Angela’s eyes, it was all thanks to Lee. Helping him had reminded her that she didn’t need to work in a community center or care home to support the people in her community. And in a bitter-sweet twist, all of her help meant that she no longer saw Lee as often as she used to.
Now that he had a lovely new home and a kitchen, he didn't need her deliveries as often. "[Lee] really stood out for quite some time and doesn't order for delivery anymore because he's got a stove and a refrigerator and a microwave," Angela said. "Yeah, he stood out for a very long time."
We Can Be Heroes
Over time, word of Angela’s good deeds had spread from her neighborhood out into the world. Many people saw her story as an important reminder that people who work in service positions, such as delivery drivers or fast-food cashiers, could also be pillars of the community.
In fact, people like Angela were heroes who often didn't get the credit that they deserved. Her story really shone a light on people's struggles too, and slowly Domino's, other fast-food chains, and communities around the US began to look at what they could do to help local people who were struggling.
Angela felt fortunate that she was able to make meaningful connections as a delivery driver, as it was one of the few things that made the job feel worth it. Sadly, the relatively low wage that Domino’s drivers were paid - $9.50, the Minnesota minimum wage - was barely enough to get by on.
She explained the situation to The Atlantic, saying, "Sometimes you'll go make two or three or four deliveries, and people just aren't tipping. It happens quite often, and then it's very easy to get really crabby as a delivery driver because we don't always make enough money to cover our gas if customers aren't tipping us."
But this resilient worker was able to keep her head held high despite the difficulties due to the friendly interactions with customers that she enjoyed every day. For Angela, being able to chat with people, laugh, and make others smile made it all worth it.
One of the only other things that got her down while working, aside from the low wages, were the occasional bouts of bad weather that affected everyone's mood, including her own. "Hopefully, they'll understand, but sometimes you just get people that are having a bad day, and you have to deal with it the best you can," she explained.
What Matters Most
As we mentioned, the friendly and open interactions that Angela shared with customers were her favorite part of her job as a delivery person -and sometimes even the best part of her day. Having the opportunity to keep people satisfied and cheer them up, just as she had with Lee, meant the world to her.
Those meaningful moments were often what got her through the longest shifts. "Just seeing somebody smile or just hearing a thank you and having them know my name. 'Oh, Nguyen, thanks. Nice to see you again.'" she said. "They remember me as a person and not just a delivery driver."
A Lesson To Learn
And though Angela’s life has largely returned to normal, her actions still reverberate through her community and the people who have learned about her story. She and her daughter Sarah have shown just how much can be done through even the smallest acts of kindness.
But her impact on her customers is no small feat - Angela and Sarah Nguyen were able to save a man from a dark, lonely, and potentially endangered life just because they wanted to help. And one thing is clear - the world would be a much brighter place if we all took a leaf out of Angela’s book...