A woman starts to date a successful young restauranteur then she notices something peculiar about his employees -- they are all orphans, and so is she.
When Sandra Harrow moved back to Seattle at the age of 25, she was unbearably lonely. She was born in Seattle but had grown up in foster care in a Midwest town, There was really no place that she called home, and yet she felt homesick.
It was a cold misty Sunday afternoon and Sandra wandered into a nearby restaurant. She ordered waffles and hot chocolate and gazed out of the window. Would she ever find a place where she belonged? Then a pleasant voice interrupted her reverie.
Even though Jared owned a chain of restaurants he didn't live like a rich man. | Source: Shuttertock.com
"Hello! This is your first time here. right?" The voice belonged to a tall, handsome man with a sweet smile. "I know all our regulars, and none of them are as pretty as you!"
Sandra laughed. "I see you flatter all your customers!" she said.
"Only the very pretty ones!" the man smiled. "I'm Jared Kastel. Do you mind if I join you?"
Sow the seeds of kindness and you will reap a crop of love.
Sandra gestured her agreement and before long Jared was sitting opposite her and the two were chatting away happily as if they'd known each other all their lives. The waitress brought Sandra's order and she was kind and friendly too.
All the staff was sunny-faced and willing and chatted happily with their customers. "This is the happiest place I've ever seen!" Sandra commented. "You must have a great boss."
Sandra was very lonely when she arrived in Seattle. | Source: Unsplash
Jared's face split into a huge grin. "Thank you!" he cried. "It's always nice to be appreciated."
"You're the boss? I thought you were the manager!" Sandra gasped eyeing Jared's neat but casual clothes.
"I like to keep things informal," he explained. "We are a family here, more than anything else."
"Family..." whispered Sandra. "That's something I've never had."
Jared introduced himself to Sandra. | Source: Pexels
"I'm sorry," Jared said seriously. "Did you lose your parents?"
"I was raised in an orphanage," Sandra said. "The staff was kind, but... It was so lonely...Then when I turned 18 I was out on the streets. Families don't do that to each other."
Jared's warm hand covered hers and he said in a sympathetic tone, "No, they don't. I'm so sorry you went through that, Sandra. But you know, one day you'll find your family. I'm sure of it!"
Over the next six months, Jared and Sandra saw each other often, and she found herself falling in love with him. Jared wasn't just gorgeous, he was kind, considerate, and above all, humble.
All of Jared's employees were very friendly. | Source: Unsplash
To Sandra's surprise, even though Jared owned a string of restaurants, he drove an average car and lived in a nice but far from luxurious apartment. And all his employees clearly adored him.
One of the waitresses raved about Jared: "He's the best, you know? I wouldn't have made it without Jared!"
"What about your family?" Sandra asked, with more curiosity than discretion. "Aren't they in the picture?"
The waitress shook her head. "I grew up in foster care. My parents...let's just say it's complicated. I was a very unhappy kid when Jared offered me a job, but he was very patient with me. He's an amazing big brother."
Sandra learned that even Jared's chefs were orphans. | Source: Unsplash
To Sandra's surprise, a conversation with the chef revealed that he too was an orphan... In fact, all the staff in Jared's six restaurants throughout the city were orphans. But why? Jared had often mentioned his father with great affection, so he had a family...
Even stranger was that even though the business belonged to Jared, every single employee (including Jared) earned the exact same income -- which explained the restauranteur's relatively modest lifestyle!
One day, Sandra decide to ask him. "Jared," she said. "I've noticed that a lot of your staff... Well, they come from similar backgrounds...From orphanages, or foster care..."
Jared nodded. "Yes," he replied. "Whenever possible I try to give the kids coming out of the system their first jobs. They come out into the world at 18 and they feel so lost.
Jared had lost his parents when he was eight years old. | Source: Unsplash
“So they get a job, I help them find an apartment, and best of all, they become part of the family in which we all stand as equals in every way. Even though the business belongs to me, every single employee, including me, earns the exact same income.
"I know them all, what their dreams are, what they long for -- I know each one like a sibling. I encourage them all to study, follow their passion and when they move on to better things, they all stay in touch.”
"That's amazing!" Sandra said. "It would have meant a lot to me to have felt that kind of support when I left the orphanage!"
Jared hung his head. "I'm so sorry," he said. "But I lost track of you when they placed you with an out-of-state foster family..."
Sandra was stunned. "What do you mean you lost track of me?"
Sandra had comforted Jared at the orphanage. | Source: Pexels
Jared reached into his pocket and pulled out a tattered old notebook and handed it to Sandra. She opened it hesitantly. The first two pages were a list of people she'd already met at Jared's restaurants.
She turned the page, and there was another list, but this time Sandra didn't recognize any of the names. Jared explained: "Those are kids about to age out of the system. and whom I'm going to be hiring."
Sandra turned one more page, and there was her own name! "What?" she gasped. "What is going on?"
"Listen," Jared said quietly. "When I was 8, my parents died in an accident and I was placed in the orphanage. I was so frightened and so heartbroken I wanted to die. But one little girl came and sat with me and held my hand.
Jared confessed to Sandra that he'd been looking for her all his life. | Source: Unsplash
"I was only at the orphanage for three months, but during that time, that little girl was there for me. She saved my life, and that was you, Sandra Harrow. I was adopted by a wonderful man -- and I inherited his restaurants.
"I was determined to help other orphans and I did -- but I never stopped looking for you, and then one day you just walked in. I knew you by your eyes. I loved you as a child, but now that I know you as a wonderful, lovely woman...
"I do what I do because of you, you've made me the man I am and I want you to be my wife..."
Sandra looked into Jared's eyes, and beneath the mask that time and maturity had given him, she glimpsed another face, the face of a bewildered, shattered boy whose world had fallen apart.
Jared and Sandra's wedding was attended by their family of orphans. | Source: Unsplash
She had been the youngest child in the orphanage, and yet she'd found in her tiny heart the strength and the compassion to offer him support. That tenderness she'd shown him had helped him make it through those first nightmarish days and inspired his life's mission.
Sandra reached across the table and grasped his hand, just as she had so long ago. "Yes!" she said. "Yes, always yes!" and watched as the tears of joy rolled down his face.
Sandra and Jared married and in attendance were hundreds of guests -- the people who worked for Jared, and all the others he had helped over the years. They were surrounded by family that Jared had forged, inspired by Sandra's gift of hope.
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