Denise (O'Connell) Godwin, Manager of Applebee's Fridley
- Published on Sunday, 11 September 2011 22:27
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
(Note: Below is a copy of an email that I sent on 10 September 2011 to my Children, Grandchildren and as indicated to all of my friends and relatives on my email address book.)
"This note is not only going to my Children and Grandchildren but to everyone on my email address list…I just think that the subject of this email, Denise is a very rare and special person working for an unusual organization and I would like everyone to know about it. Certainly Denise deserves mention in your daily prayers for those that would or are willing do so. Applebee's because of Denise, has been a special friend to all of the many victims of Alzheimer's and their caregivers by helping to spread an awareness of this terrible disease! It is my good fortune to be able to call her a friend and Applebee's good fortune to have her as a member of their team!
Denise is a Christian lady with a Christian heart who attends church on Sunday’s. Denise is also a super friendly lady as well as a kind and very hard working lady who holds down two jobs. She is one of the Managers at the Fridley Applebee’s on Central Avenue near 694. Denise is an eleven (11) year associate of Applebee's. She also has a 2nd job as a waitress in one of the Mexican chain of restaurants. She is a lady with a very big heart. Denise was married just a year ago at a church service in Savage. In addition to being a wife and very busy with two jobs, she is still able to find time to assist others. I feel that I am very fortunate that God placed her in my life - she has been a huge blessing to me!
My first meeting with Denise was on an evening that she was the manager at the Fridley Applebee’s and it was not a happy occasion…in fact it was an occasion that I was very angry at Applebee’s. It was an evening early in January 2010. I had received a gift card for Applebee’s from one of my grandchildren on Christmas Eve 2009. When I first used the card in January of 2010, it was at the Fridley Applebee’s on Central and 694. When I came to pay for the meal with the card, I was told that the card amount was for $10 less then the amount written on the card envelope. I assumed that it was an Applebee’s error and I was very angry about the entire matter. Denise discussed the matter with me and handled it in such a diplomatic way that I lost all my anger with Applebee’s and shortly thereafter we became good friends.
Mom/Grandma June always liked the Applebee’s restaurants from the day we first had a meal at one in North Carolina in the early 1980’s. We were out visiting Sue and Daniel and had an evening meal there. Mom/Grandma June liked the atmosphere and the food. Mom/Grandma June was pleased when the franchise came to Minnesota. I remember in the fall of 2004 when the sign came up on Central Ave. announcing the future home of an Applebee’s in Fridley…Mom/Grandma June was very pleased and was looking forward to their opening in early 2005. Unfortunately Alzheimer’s took command of Mom/Grandma June’s life and she was never able to see the opening. Mom/Grandma June also has a warm place in her heart for waitresses and staff of restaurants. It was a small restaurant in Barron, WI that Grandpa Tom first introduced me to Mom/Grandma June. She was a waitress at this little restaurant. I spent many of our date times awaiting the end of her work shift when we were first going together. I had more free time than did Grandma June, as I was home on leave from the Army at the times.
The Applebee’s chain is probably the most active and generous of the nation’s restaurants in recognizing veterans…Every Veterans Day, they have a special menu for veterans. Any veteran can come in all day long and order what ever they like on the menu and it is provided as a gift from Applebee’s. I know of no other business that does so on this scale…even the Legion and the VFW does not do anything like that…last Veteran’s Day I saw the local Legion post commander in the Fridley Applebee’s having his free meal.
Applebee’s provides an atmosphere of help for charitable causes. When requested, they (Denise) immediately agreed to allow me to have one of my “June’s Alzheimer’s Awareness Card” holder dispensers at their front desk near the entrance. These Alzheimer's awareness cards not only promote Alzheimer's awareness but also promote funding, research and proper Alzheimer's care practices.
Denise surprised me a year ago when she honored Mom/Grandma June and I with my favorite booth being designated as the “June and Stan Berg” Booth. She arranged to have engraved brass plates attached to the back of each side seat of the booth with our names on them. Mom/Grandma June has her side seat back with her engraved brass plate and I have mine on the other side.
As you know, I send out cards for birthdays and anniversaries and other special events in behalf of Grandma June and I. I usually enclose a picture of Grandma June and me to help preserve Mom/Grandma June’s memory. I did this a short time ago for Denise on her birthday…The next time I came in Applebee’s, I found that the picture I sent to her was now framed and mounted in the back of the special “June and Stan” booth.
Recently when I mentioned to Denise one of my concerns about the “June’s Alzheimer’s Awareness cards” and what would happen to this little awareness campaign when I passed away. I am 84 years old and have overstayed my life-time now. I have seven (7) of the card holder dispensers at 6 local restaurants and the “Eye Care Center” here in the Twin Cities. All of the business locations have a special meaning in Mom/Grandma June’s life. I told Denise that my children are busy making a living, plus living their own lives and that the card program would probably be a casualty of my passing. Denise immediately volunteered to keep the card program going and that she would personally visit the locations involved on a weekly basis in order to keep the dispensers filled (Including the Applebee’s one) as long as someone would keep a supply of cards available. Julie would handle the ordering and supply through Insty Prints where they keep the printing file on hand. Here is a lady with two jobs taking on another responsibility and acting like it is really nothing for her to do this!
Denise has been personally very kind and helpful to me. I have found that I need to be careful of any comments I make about any personal needs I have because Denise will immediately step in to try to solve them for me. I remarked one day that my front porch light had burned out and I would need to get it replaced. Denise insisted on promptly coming to my home and doing the replacement for me, saying that someone my age should not be up on a ladder. Denise promptly followed up by coming out on the next Sunday morning on her way to church to make the change for me. She acted like it was nothing for her to do so.
I recall the time a few months ago that I had a remedial surgery because of an error by the surgery team at Southdale Fairview in connection with the use of a Catheter (Kidney surgery) This same day surgery required I be at the hospital at 8 AM in the morning. I had mentioned to Denise that since this was on a work day, it would be inconvenient for my children to take me and that I would probably be taking a cab as this would be the easiest on everyone. Denise immediately offered to provide transportation for me on the appointed day and time as she would not be working that morning. Since this was more than out of her way and on the opposite end of the Twin Cities, I simply refused to accept this generous gift of time and expense on her part. I instead planned to take a cab on my own. As it turned out, the surgeon on hearing I was taking a cab arranged for the hospital to send their own cab to pick me up, apparently because the problem needing correction was not of my doing.
There are more examples of what this very special lady has done…but perhaps I have gone on far too long now but feel I needed the detail to properly tell this lady’s story!
Denise has Moved On!
Denise is no longer a part of the Applebee’s organization. Denise has moved on and is now a part of and working for Standard Heating and Air Conditioning. (I will never understand Applebee’s allowing Denise to move on to other employment.) For Denise this is a great move for her with much improvement in her quality of life. Denise is expecting to give birth to a young son in the near future. Denise now has a job with a standard work week of Monday through Friday with standard daytime work hours…As for Applebee’s it is their loss…Denise describes her time with Applebee’s as a “Great Twelve Year Run.” For me personally, it is a sad transition…”The fun of Applebee’s is gone!” So long friend, we miss you! (July 2012)
Denise’s new job at Standard Heating and Air Conditioning is that of a “Customer Service Representative”. As a Service Representative, Denise is working with the customers in scheduling repairs on their furnace and air conditioners as well as arranging appointments for customers to purchase new equipment. Denise can be contacted at Standard Heating and Air Conditioning by way of her email address:
Christmas Season 2010
I designed a special Christmas message/letter for all the staff of the Fridley Applebee's and I had it delivered to each of them. This message was accompanied by a gift of candy for all of them. Here is a link to the Christmas message 2010:
PS: Christmas Day 2011. I had planned to present gifts in the form of boxes of “no sugar” chocolates to the residents of the Benedictine Nursing Home as gifts from June. My wife June Berg had been a resident at the Benedictine’s Alzheimer’s Villa, room 207, for over two and a half (2-1/2) years before she passed away on 23 October 2008. For many of the residents, Christmas is a lonely day. The gift would include a specially designed Christmas card from June with her picture on the card and a short history of her residence at the Benedictine’s Alzheimer’s Villa. My first priority was the Alzheimer’s Villa of the Nursing Home (19 packages) and then the balance of the nursing home with another 20 plus packages. I almost gave up the project when I started considering the logistics of the operation. I am 83 years of age and walk with the assistance of a cane. How could I realistically carry all that candy with cards and make the distribution around and about the large area of the nursing home? I mentioned to Denise that I was thinking of scrapping the idea. Denise immediately volunteered to help me by carrying my supplies of boxes of candy and cards…and she did! She was a huge help to me. She followed me around the nursing home on Christmas day as I was making the presentations and handed me a box of candy and a card when ever I needed one! She also visited with and had friendly conversations with the residents along the way! The operation worked flawlessly and I simply could not have done it without her!
PS: "Dining to Donate" March 2012. Denise arranged an Alzheimer’s research fund raising event in the Memory of June with the funds raised to go to Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Research Center. This special event was scheduled for Tuesday March 27th 2012 at 4 PM to 9 PM. (Normal evening dinner period) This was one of the Applebee's "Dining to Donate" charitable fund raising programs. Denise did all the organizing and handled much of the publicity. Denise personally appeared at the Fridley Senior Dining Center where she gave a short talk to promote the event. Denise also provided "Dining to Donate" flyers to the Lion's Club members to pass out at their meeting. The event was held and the money raised was sent to the Mayo Clinic's Alzheimer's Research Center. This lady has a big heart and I am sure that June would have loved her! For the story of Applebee's "Dining to Donate" Programs, click on the below link: