Get the latest from TODAY
When a distraught woman pulled up to a coffee shop drive-thru window last week, the employees were there to give her much more than just a hot cup of java.
An employee taking orders from cars waiting in line on March 18 at Dutch Bros. Coffee on 138th Avenue in Vancouver, Washington, had spoken to the emotional woman and learned her husband had just died at 37 years old. When the woman pulled up to the window to get her order, employee Pierce Dunn, 19, gave her a free coffee and asked if he could pray for her after hearing about her loss.
Dunn was soon joined by two fellow employees as all three held hands with the woman in prayer. The touching moment was captured by Barbara Danner, a woman on line behind them, who posted it on Facebook.
"(The widow) was extremely grateful that there were people that actually cared about how she was doing,'' Dunn told TODAY.com. "If someone comes through and shows that much raw emotion, we're going to give raw emotion right back. There were tears and things that were said that hopefully affected her for the better. She just kept saying thank you."
That type of empathy from the staff at Dutch Bros. Coffee is part of the culture at the chain of 260 stores. Comments on Danner's Facebook post spoke about how employees there have helped kids being bullied and families who have experienced loss.
"We hire genuinely good-hearted people, the type of people where those things come naturally,'' Jessica Chudek, the franchise owner of the Vancouver location, told TODAY.com. "In this case, this woman needed a hand to hold, words of encouragement, and prayer, and the boys were more than willing to do that for her. It's not a transaction, it's an opportunity to make someone's day or make them smile."
Evan Freeman, 21, another employee featured in the picture, was surprised at the outpouring of support for the picture but not the act itself. He and Dunn trained together and have worked there for about six months.
"We do stuff like this all the time,'' Freeman told TODAY.com. "The whole act of the prayer was spontaneous. It was what we thought would help her at the moment."
The employees are empathetic to the point that they hoped the picture going viral didn't cause any negative effects.
"I keep thinking about the woman we reached out to and I really hope she doesn't think we did this for publicity,'' Dunn said. "I hope she takes away that moment the same way she took it before all this began. I don't want her to be upset about her life being put on display.
"I don't think the picture does that moment justice because it was such a real moment. It's like time stood still."
Get the latest from TODAY
Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.