Crystal Lachance says she’s been struggling a lot recently.
She’s a single mom with no car who walks one hour to and from her job at Kentucky Fried Chicken in Salem, Ore. She’s made that trek every weekend for a full year, just to make ends meet for herself and her 9-year-old son, Rhys.
But she won’t have to hoof it to work anymore, after her boss helped her secure a brand new car through KFC’s employee recognition program.
Lachance says her boss, Miranda Marston, nominated her in secret for the company’s “Kentucky Fried Wishes” program, which rewards employees who go above and beyond in the workplace.
Lachance had no idea that she’d been entered in the contest when she showed up at work on Tuesday, only to discover that she’d won a brand new set of wheels. The car was waiting for her in the parking lot with a big red bow on top.
“This made my day,” she wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “I have been struggling a lot this year but haven’t given up and have been working very hard.”
Lachance said she recently got her driver’s permit and has been saving up to buy a car.
“Now I have a car and the owner of KFC is going to be paying six months of insurance for me,” she wrote. “I feel so blessed today and I just love my job and my boss Miranda. She seriously is the best boss ever!”
She told local station WTHR that she walks nearly five kilometres to work for every shift — then walks back to the recovery home where she lives with her boy.
“It was not fun,” she told the station. “I don’t like to ask for help. I like to do everything for myself.”
She says the car will help her care for her son better, and open up more possibilities for her in her own life.
“There’s just so much more I can do,” she said. “Now I can save up for getting my own place, instead of saving up for a car.”
Lachance’s manager, Marston, said it was a small thing to nominate her for the award.
“I don’t like to see her struggle,” Marston told WTHR. “I saw this as an opportunity to help her out, and her son.”
“I started crying,” Lachance said. “I love this woman.”
Lachance added more photos later in the day of her son, Rhys, celebrating their new ride.
“My boy loves our new car!” she wrote.