Freia David's first name is pronounced FRY-ah, so it's only fitting that she spent 32 years working as a fry cook at a local McDonald's in Needham, Mass.
When David announced her retirement, the restaurant threw her a party attended by more than 100 people from the community. Gifts included a necklace with a fry carton pendant, a crystal model of the restaurant, and even a proclamation from the state House of Representatives. She and her mother Anneliese were also promised free meals for the rest of their lives.
Anneliese told the Boston Globe she was "speechless" over the kind gesture for her daughter. "I expected a party, but not a party like this," she said.
Timothy McCoy, the location's owner-operator, said of the longtime employee, "Freia's smile, her enthusiasm, and her daily hugs made our restaurant more than just a restaurant. She is loved and respected by all of our employees, customers, and anyone she has come into contact with. We are so sad that she is retiring, but very happy for the time we had to work with her. McDonald's of Needham will never be the same again without Freia David."
David loved her job, always showing up early for her three-hour lunchtime shift and staying around afterward to help clean up. She told WBZ-TV of the party, "It was nice, I'm really happy."
David, who lives in a home supported by the Charles River Center, is evidence of the good that can happen when people with functional needs are encouraged to contribute to their communities.
"People with disabilities can be integrated in the community and learn new skills and learn new interests so that they can give back to the community and contribute," Anne-Marie Bajwa, the center's chief operating officer, told WBZ-TV.
According to the organization's website, more than 80 people supported by Charles River currently hold jobs. McDonald's was one of the first businesses to partner with them.