Praying barista recognized for Gr8 Acts of Kindness

Published: Jan. 26, 2023 at 7:50 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 26, 2023 at 8:34 AM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Even on a cloudy, rainy day, there’s sunshine when January’s Gr8 Acts of Kindness winner is around.

Just below a red wolf on an electronic sign on Highway 49 is a woman who packs in compassion with every drive-thru visit.

“She is a blessing to everyone that comes through here,” said Julie Matthews. “Every single day.”

“Carrie is... this is where she belongs,” said Brandi Hathcoat, manager of the Red Wolf Starbucks location where Carrie works.

Ministering to the needs of people is where Carrie Barlow finds her passion.

“She’s very aware of body language and very in tune with their customers,” Nikki Sharp said. Sharp heads up the Starbucks on Southwest Drive, where Carrie first worked.

Julie Matthews drove through with her husband, who had been battling cancer.

“Last time I came through here with my husband, she prayed over him because he didn’t feel good,” Matthews said.

They were headed to the hospital. Turns out, Cary Matthews had COVID-19 and passed away shortly after.

“Two days before Christmas,” Julie said.

“My heart was so broken for her,” Carrie said.

Carrie’s prayer through the drive-thru was reassuring at a key time.

“She came back through later and said, ‘Carrie, thank you. It meant so much to him to hear your voice and pray over him before he had to go face this,’” Julie explained.

She has a heart for people.

“Everyone she meets, she loves. She just has one of the most open hearts I’ve seen,” said Mary-Catherine McLeod, one of several people who nominated Carrie for the Gr8 Acts of Kindness.

“We only have 40 seconds at the window to connect with a customer,” said Sharp.

And connect, she does!

“They (customers) are so excited to see her and so excited to hear her voice over that box,” said Hathcoat.

Starbucks even recognized Carrie with the Bravo Award. The award recognizes partners, or employees, that achieve goals supporting the mission, values, and objectives of Starbucks.

“It went viral,” Hathcoat said. “I mean, it blew up.”

She was talking about a photo depicting Carrie praying for a customer.

“I think it made national news,” Hathcoat said.

Carrie had been praying with a woman in the drive-thru when another patron snapped a picture and placed it on social media.

So, that is where we waited until just the right moment.

“So many people go through this line because you radiate positivity,” I told Carrie through the window of the Starbucks.

She answered with a question.

“You know there’s a reason, right?” Carrie asked. “Jesus lives in me.”

When I told her she was the next winner in the Gr8 Acts of Kindness, she didn’t know what to say.

“I’m speechless,” Carrie said. “That doesn’t happen often!”

“When you win the Gr8 Acts of Kindness, you win money,” I told her, then counted $408 dollars into her hand.

Carrie, being a wife and mother of four has known her share of tragedies. She lost her father to COVID-19, and during the pandemic, she saw fear on the faces of healthcare professionals she tried to reassure.

“You know God put us here for a time such as this,” Carrie said.

To offer a word of encouragement, a smile, and a hug.

“It’s not just a morning routine,” Melissa McAlpin, Carrie’s friend and co-worker. “It’s a community. And that’s what I love about this area, Region 8. Carrie definitely represents that. She’s the best of it!”