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B.C. teenagers gift pregnant co-worker their wages to extend her maternity leave

MILL BAY, B.C. — If you ask Lisa Armstrong about the best thing about her job, she’ll answer without hesitation.

“The guests and the staff are like family,” Lisa says, while taking orders at the local A&W restaurant on Vancouver Island..

It’s a fast-food family that includes teenage co-workers who are quick to consider Lisa “like a mom.”

“She’s always trying to brighten our day and make us laugh,” Shayla Symes says.

“And she’s one of the most caring people,” Noah Poehkle adds. “A very selfless person.”

So you can imagine how they all felt when Lisa announced their family was expanding and she was pregnant.

“It was very exciting,” Jillyse Fisher smiles.

While Lisa felt very grateful that working while pregnant was “a breeze,” she admits the prospect of taking just two weeks off for maternity leave felt stressful.

“[Employment Insurance] only gives you 55% of your income and I can’t go without my full income,” Lisa admits. “So I’m going to use my two weeks paid vacation and then come back to work after that.”

It’s the sort of plan you have to make when you are the primary bread-winner in your family. Until things don’t go according to plan and your baby arrives three and a half weeks early.

“It was definitely scary,” Lisa says, before showing pictures of her baby in the incubator. “But it all worked out.”

While baby Declan weighed just four pounds eleven ounces when he was born, he’s now almost seven pounds, and thriving.

“Yeah, he’s a keeper!” Lisa laughs, before cradling her baby.

Lisa’s general manager — Jillyse Fisher — visited the pair in hospital before inviting to take them out for a celebratory meal at some point. But when that time came, Jillyse made a last-minute change of plans.

“I told her that I had to stop back at work because of renovation issues,” Jillyse smiles.

That wasn’t true. It was just an excuse to bring Lisa to a surprise baby shower attended by her work family.

“The owners brought food and cupcakes,” Jillyse says. “It was really sweet.”

And after the teenagers met Declan, they’re presented Lisa with an envelope containing cash and coins.

“It was $1,011.50 in there. It was almost my full paycheque in there,” Lisa starts crying. “They didn’t want me to worry. They wanted me take more time off.”

It was a group of eight, between the ages of 15 and 17, who donated their wages to Lisa.

“You can’t say thank you enough,” Lisa cries. “I was blown away by the love I got from them.”

It was a love her young co-workers says is a reflection of the caring Lisa’s always shown them.

“We appreciate her. We care for her,” Noah says. “And we want to do good for her.”

Which is why they gave their “work mom” the priceless gift of spending two more weeks — a month in total — to solely being Declan’s mom. Top Stories

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