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Spreading positivity while sharing wealth

Niles couple gives Virginia waitress $650 tip while vacationing

NILES — Spreading positivity is Dan Pew’s mission in life, he said — and earlier this month while on vacation in Virgina Beach, he brought a little joy to a restaurant by leaving a waitress a $650 tip.

Aubrey Suykerbuyk, 19, a waitress at the Virginia Beach restaurant Commune said she was “overwhelmed by the gesture.”

“I just felt so much love and appreciation,” Suykerbuyk said.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, Pew heard about what is called the “Venmo challenge” from a social media influencer, and decided to give it a try. The goal is to convince friends to donate what they can in order to leave someone in the service industry a large tip. He used the hashtag #fortheawesomehuman.

“I thought maybe I can get $100,” Pew said. “I just had no clue so many people were going to donate and be excited about it.”

Pew’s efforts raised 35 donations — the largest being $55 — from family, friends and colleagues near and far. While he and fiancee Raven Trickett were vacationing in Virginia Beach, they said they decided wherever they ate lunch that Friday the server would get the tip. They decided to return to a restaurant they’d tried earlier that week, located in the ViBe Creative District — an area dedicated to art, he said.

That’s when they met Suykerbuyk, a two-year employee of Commune and a sophomore transferring to Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., to study clinical psychology.

To Pew, “in the helping profession” as the community outreach director at Parkman Recovery Center in Warren, he said Suykerbuyk seemed like the perfect person to get the money.

In a video Trickett recorded, Suykerbuyk’s eyes grow wide as she realizes what’s happening. Pew counts out the money on the table for her.

“It was really cool just to see her expression of overwhelming joy,” Pew said. The wait staff at the restaurant share tips, so about five people got a cut of the money. Pew said that was even better, because it spread the positivity further.

Suykerbuyk used to work at Commune’s Norfolk location, but that has remained closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She, like many others in the service industry, had been out of work for more than two months before switching to the Virginia Beach location, putting her in the right place at the right time.

“It can get very difficult and defeating to be a waitress,” Suykerbuyk said. “Just dealing with the general public all day, and people not really understanding that what you decide to tip — this is how we pay our bills. People like Dan and Raven, who really decided they want to show generousness and kindness, that really makes up for it.”

“I think a lot of us have negative views with so much going on,” Pew said. “This was a great opportunity for everyone, family and friends, to be a part of something cool.”

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