When Shannon Brennan heard the promo for “Flip your Fall,” a new TODAY Show segment, she immediately knew who to nominate.
The show was looking to shine the spotlight on someone who goes out of their way for others, and Shannon knew that her co-worker Leondra Thomas-Robinson was perfect for that honor.
So, Shannon, who happened to be in Syracuse, New York, visiting her mother, immediately filled out a nomination on TODAY’s website.
And, the television show responded quickly, choosing Leondra, to be featured in the segment.
Behind the scenes, the TODAY team conspired with Shannon and her boss, Betsy Strickland, to pull off the surprise.
As Leondra was going about an apparently normal Sept. 16 morning at the Postal Authority in Zephyrhills, Betsy took a call in the back room.
Moments later, Betsy came out, holding her cellphone up in the air, while two voices were talking to Leondra.
Leondra didn’t have a clue what was going on.
It became clear soon enough.
“Leondra, it’s Hoda (Kotb) and Jenna (Bush).
“We’re from the TODAY show. We know you’re working usually during this hour, but we have a live television show that you’re on, right now,” Hoda said, asking Leondra if it was OK to record her.
“Here’s what happened,” Hoda continued. “Your boss and your co-worker, Shannon, nominated you for a Flip your Fall.
“Basically what this is, is we are honoring you because you are so nice. You are so kind to all of the people you meet. So, we thought, you know, maybe it’s a good time that someone said ‘Thank you’ and showed you appreciation.”
Jenna told Leondra that her co-workers said “you make coming to work a delight — that your positivity, your energy — makes everybody around you feel great.
Hoda: “First we just want to say ‘Thank you.’”
Then she asked Leondra: “How do you feel in this moment?”
Leondra responded: “I don’t even know,” tearing up with emotion.
Then, Jenna asked: “Betsy, do you have something?”
Betsy responded: “I do. I have flowers for you (Leondra) and I have some chocolates for you,” handing them to her. Leondra laughed with delight.
Then Hoda said, “Hey Leondra, we like flowers and we liked chocolates, but we do have one more thing for you.”
Then Jenna said: “You know what we have for you? The Terranea Resort is treating you and a guest to three nights, with airfare, in Ranchos Pallos Verde in Southern California. Luxury amenities. Sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.”
Hoda added: “Leondra, it’s the vacation you have deserved for a long time.
“What do you think?”
Leondra answered: “I’m overwhelmed. Thank you so much.”
It was a big moment for Leondra, and for Betsy and Shannon, too — because her friends were equally thrilled she had been chosen to be showcased.
All three are women of faith and all three believe that God had a hand in Leondra’s selection.
For her part, Shannon said if she hadn’t been visiting her mom, she wouldn’t have been watching the show and would not have nominated Leondra.
And, Leondra said she never would have been working at Postal Authority, in the first place, without divine intervention.
She explained that before she began working there she was employed at a bread store that closed down due to COVID.
A bread store customer asked her what she was going to do.
Leondra responded: “I’m going to trust in God. He’s always taken good care of me. He will continue.”
Long story short, the customer — who turned out to be Betsy’s acupuncturist — got involved and Leondra wound up going to work for Betsy.
That, Leondra said, was God.
The store, at 32789 Eiland Blvd., in Zephyrhills, doesn’t just ship packages. It has mailbox rentals, provides notary services, shreds documents, handles certified mail, completes fingerprinting and provides a variety of other services.
People arriving there are often in some sort of transition.
“We have two or three criers a week,” Shannon said. “We fax a lot of stuff, so there’s a lot of death certificates going out. We have a lot of Powers of Attorney that we notarize, and wills and end-of-life instructions, and a lot of times when we’re shipping, we’re shipping people’s valuables that they pack up from their parents’ house, who just passed away.
“They’re really at a crossroads.
“It’s hard for them, so it just can’t be business as usual. It’s not business as usual,” Shannon said.
Leondra tunes into those needs and responds, her co-workers said.
The store has lots of repeat customers, too.
Leondra remembers their names and faces, and details of their story, Shannon said.
“I think it’s a great avenue to minister to people,” Leondra said.
“They come in. They’re sending packages,” Leondra said. “But sometimes they just need a word of encouragement. Or, they need a smile. Or, they just need somebody to reassure them. ‘Yeah, you’re going through something right now, but it’s not the end of the world, and you’re not alone.
“I hear everything that people say, but I also hear what they don’t say,” said Leondra, who is taking her mother along for her resort vacation.
Published October 13, 2021