Community raises nearly $10K for beloved Starkville Café waitress after fire destroyed her home

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Starkville Café has been a landmark downtown for years.

And not just for their pancakes and scrambled eggs.

Meet Shirley Powell. She’s been a waitress at Starkville Café for 22 years.

“I love my customers, I love the atmosphere here and I love the people that I work with,” she says.

“She’s one of the reasons people come here,” says Butch Simmons, one of Powell’s regulars. “She’s one of the reasons I come here.”

Powell knows some of her customers so well, that she’ll already have their regular table and usual order ready when they arrive.

“One of my customers, he comes in the morning and he’ll always get two scrambled (eggs), ham, toast, coffee,” she says. “I have it set up, I already know what kind of jelly he likes and everything.”

Powell estimates that she has at least 20 customers she sees every day.

“She spends every day putting the needs of other people before her own,” Simmons says.

“Shirley, she’s always got a smile on her face,” says customer Kim Mattox. “You rarely see her have a bad day.”

However, she did have one on August 1 after her Maben house and everything inside wer destroyed in a fire.

“You could see the flames coming from the ceiling,” Powell says. “The kitchen part to the bedroom part is the worst area of it and everything else is just water damage and smoke damage from the fire.”

It left her, her husband and their four young grandchildren with no home. When her customers heard about their situation, their reaction was almost universal.

“What can I do for Shirley?” Simmons said, summing it up.

After her cousin started a GoFundMe page, Powell’s customers and other members of her Starkville family joined together to raise close to $10,000 and donate other items.

“Donations, to gift cards, to food, to furniture to clothing,” Powell says. “Everybody has been really good to us, me and my family and I thank God for it.”

Mattox gave Powell a donation during the middle of the interview.

“She does so much for us every day,” Simmons says. “And many people in the town came together to help her out whether it was financially or providing certain items.”

Which makes for a truly incredible tip.

“My heart is overwhelmed. I’m overjoyed,” Powell says. “I’m so happy and blessed. I am so blessed. They didn’t have to do it.”

Powell says she, her husband and grandchildren are staying with relatives as they search for a new home.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe. 

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