Waitress Becomes RN After Customer Pays Tuition with Tip


Harrisburg is a small town in Pennsylvania, with less than 50,000 residents. It’s one of those towns where people know each other and everyone has their routine. Benjamin Olewine III is a 92 year old businessman that often frequents the Peachtree Restaurant in Harrisburg. Melissa Mainer was a waitress at the Peachtree, working to pay back her student loan debt. One morning Benjamin came into the Peachtree. His bill totaled $3.45 for the breakfast. He paid his bill as usual, but that day his routine was broken. Instead of leaving a couple extra bucks for a tip, he told Melissa, “Melissa, I’d be happy to pay your tuition.”

The young waitress was stunned and at first didn’t believe him. But after paying off nearly $20,000 of Melissa’s student loans, the simple gesture became a life changing reality. When asked why he did it, Olewine said, “You get to know them. You get to know their backgrounds. You get to know their problems and I just needed to help her.”

Mainer went on to become a registered nurse at PinnacleHealth in Harrisburg. Ironically, one of the patient floors at the facility is named the Olewine III Spine, Bone & Joint Institutes. It was named after Olewine, who apparently donates funds to more than indebted waitresses. His contributions can be found throughout the Harrisburg community and include the Nature Center at Wildwood Lake Sanctuary, the Culinary Arts School at HACC, and Whitaker Center. Melissa plans to get her master’s degree, which Olewine has apparently already offered to pay for. “Well, I’m known as a big tipper,” he told news reporters.

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