When This Employee Needed to Support His Girlfriend Battling Cancer, His Company Stepped Up
Good businesses strive to create a culture that feels like family, and Dutch Brothers in Lodi is doing just that. Alex Leveille and Cassidy Sidhu have been dating since 2016. On December 28th, Alex was working at Dutch Brothers Coffee in Lodi. He had picked up a shift and during the shift his girlfriend’s mom was texting him that his girlfriend, Cassidy, didn’t seem to be doing well. Cassidy is a super cute girl. She is a student at Sac State and is working to complete her teaching credential. Her goal is to be a 3rd grade teacher. Cassidy is also a survivor. She survived brain cancer when she was just a little girl. Every year since she beat cancer, she’s been getting annual MRIs to make sure everything is staying healthy. For 9 years everything was staying healthy, but on December 28th, red flags were showing up. “She [Cassidy] wasn’t talking correctly and we could hear something was off,” shared Alex. “It wasn’t until New Year’s Eve when she kind of pushed a plate of food away and I knew right then that there something was definitely wrong. The very next day we ended up going to UCSF in San Francisco to get a MRI and it came back showing there was a new mass that had grown. It was a centimeter and a half. Long story short, they confirmed it was a mass. She had a biopsy to figure out what it was and it did come back saying it was brain cancer.”
Alex lives in Lodi and works at Dutch Brothers Coffee here. He also teaches American Sign Language full-time at a high school in Tracy. When he got the news he knew he couldn’t support Cassidy and maintain two jobs, so he told his manager, Michael, that he would need to be taken off the schedule. Michael was not only understanding, (Alex still has his job), he also started immediately thinking of ways this Dutch Brothers location could support their team member. “The whole donation day is something they’ve been doing for a long time. It’s part of what makes them such a great company to work for,” said Alex. “Michael, I was heading into work to pick up my last paycheck, and he said, ‘Hey, I just called our franchisees [franchise owners], Kyle and Zack and Garrett, and they wanted to donate some k cups and cans of coffee for you guys.’ Because Cassidy’s family lives in Folsom. They’re driving from Folsom to San Francisco on a daily basis and sometimes it’s late at night. Michael was thinking he could give them coffee and make sure they’re wide awake on the road. Then that turned into Michael calling and talking to Zack and Kyle, they’re brothers, and saying, ‘I think this is what we’re going to do for one of our donation days this year. We want to help them out. We want to help out with medical expenses, with gas money, just everyday things.’ I was speechless. They had us set up a Venmo account, it’s #TeamCassidy. One dollar from every cup of coffee goes to Cassidy’s family, plus there was cash donations and a Venmo account that did really well so, it was just really overwhelming. The city of Lodi saw a lot of new faces yesterday because there was people driving to Lodi Dutch Brothers from Folsom and Tracy. I’m a full time high school teacher in Tracy so lots of people drove out from Tracy to go to Lodi. It was really cool.”
“Dutch Brothers, as a company, really strives to build relationships with the community,” said Michael Coste. He’s the manager who set this up. “One way that we like to do that is with Give Backs and donation days, kind of like the one you saw for that fallen officer [Natalie Corona, Davis Police Officer] in January and the one now for Cassidy. We have a few set proceed days we do each year. One of them being Drink One For Dane Day, a Bucks for Kids Day, and Dutch Love Day. Those are things that we do every year, but we like to help out the community as much as we can, so we set aside a certain amount of money per quarter that we can do for donations. When the fallen officer event happened in January, we hadn’t done a proceeds day in a while so we were able to do that. We were able to do that again for Cassidy as well because it was really affecting our employee. We had the capacity to do it, and it was the right thing in our minds, so we decided to go for it.” Michael saw an opportunity for his company to help his employee, his team member, his work family, and took advantage of it. It feels good to fundraise to help others, but it feels even better when that person is someone you know and care for. And, as a manager, even better when it’s someone you feel partially responsible for. What’s even more impressive, is this money is going to straight to the family. There’s no third party, 501(c)(3) nonprofit who Dutch Brothers is donating the money to, who is in turn donating that money back to Cassidy’s family. Dutch Brothers is just giving this money straight to the family to help in their time of need. That means there’s not even a tax write off for the company.
On Friday, February 1st, Dutch brothers had a good day and sold lots of coffee. They’re still waiting to hear back what the final donation amount will be. In just Venmo and cash donations alone though, they already raised over $3,000. Cassidy is starting treatment in the next two weeks and has been super strong. She was set to graduate in 2020 but, unfortunately, this recent diagnosis has pushed that date back. If one of her concerns is that she won’t graduate on time, that’s a testament for how determined this girl is to beat cancer now for the second time. A good employer strives to create a culture that makes employees feel like family, and boy did these guys at Dutch Brothers deliver. “I would love people to know this is something that sets Dutch Brothers apart,” said Michael. “We really try to give back a lot and I guess I would just love everyone to know we are really appreciative of all the business on those days. It truly means the world to us and it’s an amazing thing that the city of Lodi has welcomed us into the community in such a friendly way. We really appreciate it and it’s quickly become home to all of us.” Dutch Brothers delivered on their family values, and the people of Lodi showed up to support our community as a family. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cassidy and her family. #TeamCassidy