Friendship Village employee dubbed “Birthday Fairy”

Published Mar 26, 2014 at 6:43 am (Updated Mar 20, 2014 at 2:37 pm)

Melanie Lemley arrives at 5 a.m. daily to begin her shift at Friendship Village in Upper Clair, and usually she is carrying some type of cookie, cupcake or other baked good.

Officially, Lemley is a morning waitress, but unofficially, she’s known as the “Birthday Fairy.”

Almost a year ago, Lemley, of Washington, began to bring bakery treats to work to give to her co-workers – more than 200 in all departments – a special surprise for their birthday.

“I did this for my friends and I’ve met a lot of different people on different shifts,” Lemley said as she sat in the dining room during a break between the morning and lunch service. “It makes people happy.”

That day, she brought a plate of decorated mini-cupcakes and cookies for a co-worker who was going to be off on her actual birthday.

Linda “Cass” Caster of Baldwin is a store room clerk at Friendship Village of the South Hills and was one of the recipients of the Birthday Fairy’s generosity. Caster turned 50 Nov. 23 and the staff threw her a party. Lemley baked double chocolate cupcakes, one of Caster’s favorites.

“I’ve had folks cry and one, who works with the volunteers, sent me a thank you card with $20 to help with the ingredients,” Lemley said.

Treats are for her co-workers only, as Lemley said the residents of the retirement community have various dietary restrictions and she can’t bake for all of them.

The goodies are all fresh as Lemley does not freeze the treats. In fact, Lemley loves to bake and has what she calls “a vision” of one day having a shop that features baked goods on one side and photography on the other to bring her two passions together in one place. However, Lemley has no intention of leaving Friendship Village. She’s been there for almost 14 years and loves her job.

Last fall, Lemley took some vacation time and the co-workers told her they were having sugar withdrawal in her absence. Her busiest birthday time is the fall.

Lemley’s birthday was March 15 and her co-workers provided the goodies. In total, she received six birthday cakes, some of which she shared with her co-workers.

And her birthday just wasn’t cakes. A bouquet of flowers arrived while she was at work. At first Lemley thought they were from her husband. Then she read the card – “From all your friends at work.” No one is talking about who exactly sent the flowers.

“We’re all very appreciative,” Caster said. “She a very good person.”

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