Story:Two women, a diner and deliveries during a virus outbreak

Angela and Noella at Christmas in 2019

MADISONVILLE, TEXAS: As the world has hit a brick wall called COVID-19 (Coronavirus), and government leaders on the national end seem stunned and not sure what to do – and the national media and those who would like to they are in the know have stirred the pot.

It is one of those things where no one seems to really know WHAT to do or WHERE to start … panic has set in – for evidence of this, look at the behavioral patterns of, well, all of us as we have hit our Walmarts, Targets, HEBs, dollar stores, and even gas stations. Toilet paper seems to be a hot ticket item, as are Lysol, rubbing alcohol and bleach.

People are hoarding. People are fighting in the aisles for the last four pack of even the ‘John Wayne’ toilet paper that we normally avoid.

While the nation’s leaders are at a standstill, local governing bodies, school boards, churches, businesses, and everyday people have shaken off the dust of uncertainty and are figuring out how to make things work to prevent the virus from spreading and keeping citizens safe.

In the little town of Madisonville, Texas, in the center of the town square, a little walk-in diner is hustling and bustling.

Owned by two women, best friends, Angela Culbreth and Noelle Smith, Walkers Cafe is a tradition in Madisonville, and has been called a ‘destination’ restaurant – tourists always make Walkers the first place they stop when coming through Madison County.

They have replaced their regular plates and silverware with disposable stuff, and have had to make major adjustments in hours of employees and types of meals served.

All of what they are doing is in the name of preventative steps against this latest health challenge that is overtaking the world one day at a time.

Where most business owners would be frantic and trying to find out ways to save their business and put costs at the top of their brains, Noelle and Angela, reflecting on a lesson we all learned from ‘Mr. Rogers,’ are doing something.

Doing what, you ask?

DOING SOMETHING – something unprecedented.

In a post dated on March 15, Angela Culbreth wrote, “Walkers is monitoring Covid-19 closely. We plan to remain open as long as possible. The health and well being of our guest and employees remains the top priority of Walkers Cafe. Beginning tomorrow we are switching to all disposable plates, cups and utensils. We will not have a salad bar, however we will build your salad to your specs. This is uncharted waters for all of us. Walkers has always been about the people of Madisonville!”

The next day, the following was posted. “Won’t you be my neighbor? Mr Rogers taught us a long time ago to help each other when times get difficult. Walkers is open and ready to help. If you know someone who is not leaving their home due to age or health, please call Walkers at 936.348.2672. and we will deliver them a free meal. We are matching a donation from a beautiful friend who wants to help take of her town.”

On March 17, Angela wrote on her Facebook page, “New normal… Walkers is set up for deliveries . We do this daily! Call us we will deliver to your home or office. 936.348.2672. Walkers will continue with our ‘Won’t you be my neighbor?’ campaign. If you know someone who is sheltering at home, call us. Walkers will deliver them a FREE meal.We will continue to do this until our doors are shut or we run out of food or money.”

Her last line was ‘God’s Word is very clear -we are to take care of the least of these.”

Do you feel the chills yet? Wait … there is more.

An hour ago, Angela posted the following from her and Noella on the Walkers’ Facebook page.

“’Mercy moves me’ was the theme this Sunday at church… Noella and I both knew what we could do to show mercy to those who were home bound… feed them! We have. Walkers staff has given everything they could to this effort … our cooks, our servers, our front manager and especially our delivery driver have given all they could. Noella and I would like to take this moment and say thank you to the best restaurant crew around! You are all so loved! We will continue this campaign, ‘Won’t you be my neighbor,’ however, on Wednesday we will give our crew a rest and pick back up on Thursday. Walkers will be open tomorrow to serve our community with limited dining room space, pick up and delivery!”

March is called Women’s History Month … though none of us expected or wanted this month of celebration to be connected with a virus that has struck so many down worldwide, and even ended some lives.

The coronavirus is going in the history books for sure – but Angela Culbreth and Noella Smith and the anonymous donor and the folks at Walkers – well, they are going in history for sure – as women of valor, women of courage and the women who showed mercy during a time when many had become hoarders.

Thank you, Angela and Noella – you both were already in the top 10 list of amazing women anyway – but today, you have just got some big old stars.

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