WAITE PARK -- The fight to stem the spread of the coronavirus has made life challenging for many, and it's inspiring people and businesses to extend a helping hand to others.

Lynda Shepard is a devoted longtime customer of the Park Diner in Waite Park. Shepard says, after Minnesota's executive order closing restaurants was enacted, owner Jim Sherman, with the help of server Nadyne Fletcher and other employees, devised a plan to put the food in the diner to good use.

“(Jim) didn’t want all that food to go to waste,” Shepard said. “So, Nadyne decided she was going to make food for the businesses in the area and just bring it to them. Everything they had in the kitchen, refrigerator, cupboards, you name it."

Shepard says Fletcher and the others made the rounds near the Park Diner, located along Division Street,

"There's a law office next door, the Super America across the street - they were just dropping off salads and sandwiches, feeding them all," she said. "And (the businesses) were very appreciative of it.”

Shepard, who began eating at the Park Diner 20 years ago, says it "feels like home."

“The staff - they're like family," she said. "You walk into that place, and it’s like walking into your own home full of your family and friends. It’s an atmosphere that’s hard to explain. It’s just wonderful."

Recently, Shepard helped coordinate a delivery of lettuce and other food supplies from the Park Diner to several struggling area families with children.

"It was their idea," she explained. "They asked me if I knew anyone who could use some help, and I did."

She says this is just the kind of place the Park Diner is, pandemic or not.

"Honestly, I just want to cry when I think about how great they are, and how they would bend over backwards to help people," Shepard said. "They continue to do it through this crisis. They’re a lot of peoples’ heroes. They’re definitely my heroes."


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