A Twin Cities teenager has created a new position at her workplace to help support a friend and coworker going through difficult times.
Maria Landry, 19, and Madi Nelson, 18, met at Irondale High School, first bonding over musical theater. When Nelson was looking for a job, Landry encouraged her to apply at Chick-fil-A in Blaine, where she also worked.
But as they worked together, Landry became aware that Nelson was going through some serious challenges at home, which were a source of anxiety as she prepared to leave for college
Her mom, injured in an accident, became unable to work. Under financial hardships, Sandra was also facing housing insecurity, moving from her current north metro home this month.
So to assist her friend and help coworkers going through similarly tough times, Landry used her leadership position at Chick-fil-A to create a new role for herself, after consulting with other staff members.
Last fall, Landry officially created the “Team Care Coordinator” position at Chick-fil-A, the first of its kind. While the restaurant has positions designed to help customers, Landry said she knew her coworkers needed the same kind of attention.
“The position is all about team members,” Landry told BMTN.
Going above and beyond
Landry went above and beyond for Nelson, who was preparing to study musical theater and psychology at North Central College in Illinois, but was facing the aforementioned financial struggles.
Even with financial aid, Nelson worried about affording other expenses that came with going to college. Landry, already at school at Bethel University, wanted to pitch in. She reached out coworkers, family and friends to raise money for her friend and buy college necessities.
The efforts culminated in a surprise celebration at Chick-fil-A on Aug. 3, where Landry presented Nelson with a check for $1,100 and supplies for a college dorm room.
"It was basically just a huge weight off of my shoulders that I wasn’t going to have to pay for the things I was really anxious about needing to buy," Nelson said.
Landry has helped Nelson through difficult circumstances in recent months, said Nelson’s mother Sandra Caylor.
"She’s been a very supportive person," said Nelson's mother, Sandra Taylor. "Our family has had a lot of challenges in the past… and Maria has been somebody that Madi has been able to reach out to and Maria has taken the initiative to reach out to Madi and just let her know she’s there to support her."
Moving forward, Landry hopes the team care coordinator position could go beyond Chick-fil-A’s Blaine location. Landry has been in contact with Chick-fil-A corporate leadership in Atlanta to talk about the position and what it can do.
Nelson will head to college in coming weeks. Taylor is still searching for affordable housing options, looking in the Twin Cities and near Nelson’s school.