TAPPAHANNOCK, Va. — Customers at the Burger King in Tappahannock can always expect drive-thru employee Lisa Bateman to greet them with a friendly hello and a smile.
“She knows my order,” Jaki Vazquez explained. “As soon as she hears my voice she’s like, ‘Do you want the usual?”
Jason Cunningham said he can never tell if Bateman is having a bad day.
“You go through the drive-thru at any given time and she’s just as sweet,” he recalled.
In fact, the 60-year-old was one of the original employees when the fast-food restaurant opened near the Rappahannock River in 1987.
But for the last seven years, Bateman has walked nearly a mile down Tappahannock Boulevard to her shifts. She walks in the snow, rain, heat, and cold.
“I see her walking all the time and I figured it would be nice to do something like this for someone in our community,” Cunningham stated.
The chatter of giving back to Bateman started with a post on the “What’s going on in Tappahannock” Facebook page. The post quickly turned into a community-wide fundraiser to buy her a new car.
“We set up a GoFundMe and we raised a little over $4,200 for her,” Vazquez recalled.
Within a week and a half, 135 people donated to the GoFundMe.
Cunningham then traveled to Fredericksburg where he found a clean, low-mileage maroon 2007 Buick and drove it back to Tappahannock.
On Monday afternoon, they waited until Lisa’s shift at Burger King ended at 2 p.m.
“We as a town of Tappahannock wanted to show you a little bit of appreciation for your hard work, for always giving us positive energy,” Vazquez told Bateman.
She then handed Bateman the keys to her new car. Tears immediately started flowing as Bateman held her face in her hands.
“Oh my god!” she cried. “Thank you so much!”
Vazquez gave Bateman cash leftover from the fundraiser to help her pay for insurance and tags.
After the tears dried, Bateman told CBS 6 she lost her car when she was laid off from her job at Sheetz seven years ago. That didn’t stop her from working at Burger King and her second job at Wendy’s.
“I just look at it this way, just like I told my manager, as long as my little legs can take me, I’m going to do it,” Bateman responded. “I’m going to work.”
A grand gesture in a small-town proving neighbors look out for one another.
“In under two weeks we were able to gather all this money between a small community,” Vazquez said. “It just shows she is appreciated.”