No one knew how sick the owner of Millstadt’s China King was until a message on Facebook explained everything.
Hai Chen and his wife, Hellen, had to temporarily close their restaurant when he was hospitalized in October. Chen found out he had a kidney infection.
A few customers heard he was ill, but no one knew how tough that would be on his family and their business.
That’s why Millstadt resident Christine Dormeier decided to step in.
The mother of three identified with their story and Chinese heritage. She grew up in New York and watched her parents struggle to communicate at times because of a language barrier.
She didn’t want that to stop the community from helping the Chen family in their time of need, so she turned to Facebook for help.
“You may have heard the Millstadt China King owner and chef was sick and the restaurant has been closed for a while,” Christine Dormeier told her friends online. “I found out from his wife that he was indeed very ill with a kidney infection and was hospitalized.”
Chen has returned to work, but the family lost weeks of income while the restaurant was closed. Dormeier reached out to check on the family and then decided to do something to help.
Dormeier is bilingual, so when she chats with the owners of China King they speak Mandarin Chinese.
Dormeier wanted the community to know what was going on, but she also wanted the local residents to help Hai Chen and his family get back on their feet after being closed for two weeks.
Her message, which was shared by more than 800 people on Facebook, asked the public to make a purchase from the restaurant and leave a generous tip.
Hundreds of people responded and offered their support to the Chen family. The restaurant had an hour wait and long lines soon after Dormeier posted that message.
“It touched my heart,” Hai’s wife, Hellen Chen said. “We are very thankful.”
Dormeier now sees the post as an act of faith. She later found out that both families are Christian.
“I’m really thankful to God,” Dormeier said. “I feel like there was something miraculous and divine about how it all worked out.”