Things That Matter

Mother Rejects Pizza Hut’s Apology After Her Special Needs Daughter Was Told to “Hurry Up” and Leave the Restaurant to Make Way for “Regular Customers”

Just when we think the world is making progress accepting people with special needs as human beings who are no different than anyone else, someone pulls off an eye-rolling stunt that makes you worry about the future of humanity. What should’ve been a fun and carefree trip for a group of students turned into an embarrassing day that was memorable for all the wrong reasons. 

According to a Facebook post written by concerned mother, Heather Bensch, a group of special needs children were told to “hurry up” by local Pizza Hut staff in Ripley, Tennessee before “regular people” came into the restaurant.

Image via @clickysound/Twitter

According to Bensch, her 18-year-old daughter, McKaela, was visiting the local Pizza Hut with about 20 other children from her special needs class at Halls High School. Bensch told NBC News that the school had made a reservation ahead of time explaining that this “particular group was coming by”. According to Bensch, this meant that there was no “misunderstanding” on the restaurant’s part as to who the children were. 

Although Bensch wasn’t there, a teacher who was present relayed the details to the parents. The teacher also explained that the group was forced to get their own refills, clean their own tables, and were relegated to using paper plates. 

Infuriated, Bensch took to Facebook to explain the situation and vent her frustration. 

“These kids could teach you a little something about work ethic, compassion, and humanity!!!!” she wrote in a fuming Facebook post that addressed the Pizza Hut staff directly. “Any one of them would go out of their way, even out of their own comfort zones, to help someone else, or just to make them happy. They are all the most sweetest, selfless, and special people that I know, and still expect nothing in return. For them to be treated any less, is not only unacceptable, but heartless!!!!”.

Image via Facebook/Heather Bensch

Users flooded Bensch’s Facebook post with statements of disappointment and shock over the terrible way these students were treated.  “I would love to hear their definition of a ‘regular’ customer,” said one commenter. “Shame on them for being so ignorant. What an absolute disgrace”. “These kids just wanted a special day and leave it to a group of well groomed morons to ruin it,” said another. Users also suggested boycotting the restaurant. Some called to shut it down completely.

Bensch’s post quickly went viral, racking up almost 1,000 shares and over 500 comments. 

In her Facebook post, Bensch explained that “the eye rolling and attitude began the moment that the first child and teacher walked through the door”. “Since management didn’t seem to care, nor did their employees, I think it’s time that this community remind them who keeps their doors open!” she fumed via Facebook. “You know, it’s just us ‘regular’ people, who don’t need their ‘regular’ pizza anyway!”

And Bensch wasn’t the only parent that was upset over the way the children were treated. Keith Duncan, whose stepdaughter is also a part of the special needs class, told local news station WREG that after learning about the incident, he went to the restaurant to get some answers from the management. Instead, he got no response. “They could have handled that a lot better,” he told the outlet. “Just been more professional about it. Just have a little leniency for our kids.”

Bensch’s post first caught the attention of local media before catching the attention of national outlets like NBC News and People magazine

The public outcry was swift, and soon the Lauderdale County School district felt the need to address the incident, holding a meeting with teachers and administrators in order to “get all the facts about what happened”. “I don’t want the kids to think they did anything wrong because they were just in there to have a good time, eat pizza, cut up and have a great Friday,” Superintendent Shawn Kimble told WREG.

As for Pizza Hut, their corporate office released a statement to NBC News attempting to quell the damage one of their branches caused. “Our local franchisee has been in contact with the school principal and superintendent to offer our apologies to the students and teachers and will be meeting with them this week,” a Pizza Hut spokesperson said. “Restaurant management will also be reinforcing our expectations with employees at the store to ensure that our standards of service are upheld going forward.”

Bensch rejects accusations from some commentators that the situation was being “blown out of proportion”.  

“This is not the first time that a disabled group has been treated poorly at this location,” she explained to those who were defending the actions of the employees. 

And as for Pizza Hut’s apology, it wasn’t enough  to make up for the negative experience her daughter had at their restaurant.  “The apology should’ve been given right on the spot to those that were there,” she told NBC News. “As well as initial responsibility taken for what happened.”

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Latinos Are Running More Businesses Than Ever, But They’re Still More Likely to Be Denied Funding By Big Banks

Things That Matter

Latinos Are Running More Businesses Than Ever, But They’re Still More Likely to Be Denied Funding By Big Banks

Photo via Getty Images

The United States Latino population is steadily growing and with that, the demographics are shifting. More and more Latinos are becoming the first ones in their family to go to college, enter the white collar workforce, and increasingly, open up their own businesses.

And while all this change feels like progress, it also comes with its own set of hurdles.

A new study showed that Latino-owned business are significantly less likely to be approved for loans, despite surpassing the national revenue growth average.

Latino-owned businesses are skyrocketing, but banks still don’t want to finance them. “Latino [business] revenue growth should be a key metric in helping them gain capital, but they continue to fall short,” said Stanford research analyst Marlene Orozco to NBC.

The study, conducted by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative, found that 50% of white business-owners who applied for a loan of $100,000 over the last five years were approved. In contrast, only 20% of Latino business-owners were approved.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon extended to federal COVID-19 relief, like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). PPP was meant to help small businesses who were negatively impacted by the pandemic.

The thing is, the federal government ultimately relied on traditional, large banks to approve or deny applicants.

Latinos and Black people were denied COVID-19 Paycheck Protection Program loans at significantly higher rates than their white peers.

Even when successful entrepreneurs like Los Angeles-based restaurateur David Favela applied for a PPP loan, he was denied on the basis of not being “bankable”. Favela is the owner of three successful restaurants and breweries in California as well as being a 2020 James Beard Award finalist.

He was denied a PPP loan because he hadn’t funded his businesses with “traditional” capital (i.e. a loan from a big bank). When he started his business in 2013, he relied on his own savings as well as funds from family members.

But this type of financing is common among people of color. POC often rely on family members and/or crowdsourcing to kickstart their businesses. Unfortunately, big banks look down on that sort of non-traditional funding.

Traditional banks are more likely to approve applicants they have preexisting relationships with.

And people of color are less likely to have established relationships with large banks because, well, they don’t trust them. And arguably, for good reason. So, the plight of small business-owners of color becomes a vicious and endless cycle.

“Latinos are making strides in starting businesses and growing,” said Orozco. “Despite these trends, securing financing remains a challenge.”

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jessica tawil Gave Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

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jessica tawil Gave Insight Into What It Feels Like To Be Paralyzed

In 2009, the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health reported that almost 5.4 million people in the United States live with paralysis. Still, despite how common this is, few people understand the condition of paralysis and how it affects a person’s daily life. Twenty-two-year-old Jessica Tawil, of New Jersey, recently set out to explain the experience on TikTok last year.

Since her first post in November, the TikToker has garnered over 1 million followers with content that focuses on her experience of being paralyzed from the waist down.

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil explained an exercise that might give people a chance to understand the sensation of being paraplegic.

@jesstawil

#foryoupage #fyp #foryou #whatilearned #stemlife #needtoknow #weekendvibes #bekind #spinalcordinjury #productivity #disability #medical #paralyzed

♬ Epic Emotional – AShamaluevMusic

In a post shared on her TikTok page, Tawil shared an exercise with her followers that demonstrates how it feels to not be able to move a ligament. In this case, it’s your finger. According to Buzzfeed, Tawil came across the exercise after looking through posts related to disabilities. “I remember feeling so blown away because my legs felt the exact same way as my finger did,” she said.

“Not many people know too much about paraplegics and their capabilities, so I wanted to be that light to inform, educate, and even entertain people,” Tawil explained to BuzzFeed. “I want people to know what it’s like to be paralyzed … so that they can be a little bit more appreciative of what they have and remain humble.”

Tawil’s video demonstration currently has over 12 million views.

Tawil explained that a kidnapping and car accident led to her paralysis when she was in her teens.

Tawil explained that the accident took place on Nov. 15, 2014, when she went to a friend’s house in high school. When she arrived, Tawil discovered that men were present and instantly felt uncomfortable when she further learned that they had brought drugs and alcohol.

“When I eventually asked them to take me home, they took me to an abandoned road instead. When we got to this road, the driver stopped the car and put his foot on the gas and brake at the same time, doing a burnout with his wheels. He lost control of the car and crashed into a tree,” Tawil explained. “It was at this moment that I got whiplash, split my head open to the point where my skull was exposed, and sustained a spinal cord injury — leaving me paralyzed the moment we crashed,” she said. “Paramedics said that I lost the equivalence of a ‘Coca-Cola bottle of blood’ out of my head, and didn’t think I’d make it if they drove me to the hospital. So they drove me to a nearby soccer field where a helicopter airlifted me to the ICU. From there on, I went through seven months of rehab and remained permanently paralyzed and wheelchair-bound.”

Speaking about her injury, Tawil says she was “robbed of my ability to use the bathroom normally (I depend on catheters and enemas).”

Sadly Tawil says her experience led to her reclusiveness and weariness to trust others. Still, she finds that her disability comes with positives. “On the positive side, I have become a lot more spiritual and grateful to have been given another chance at life,” she told BuzzFeed. “My accident has emphasized the fact that we are not promised tomorrow, and that we should always be grateful for the simplest things in life… I also want to show people how I live my life in the present day — what is life like as a wheelchair user? — and devote my channel to being a blog where people can get to know me on a lot more of a personal level.”

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