WASHINGTON (CNN) – Acia Williams says she always knew she’d own her own hair salon one day, but she never dreamed it would happen like this.
Her friend and mentor gave her the Washington, D.C. beauty shop she’d managed for years to thank her after she donated one of her kidneys to him.
Williams said Chet Bennett has been a big part of her life for 20 years. He owns the beauty college where she started her career and she said he’s always been supportive and pushed her to reach the next level.
“Everybody loves him, because he’s just a genuine person. He’s always been a giver, and he’s always helpful. He’s had hundreds and hundreds of students,” Williams said.
Williams said she found out how sick Bennett was in 2018 when he told friends on Facebook that he was going through dialysis and needed a new kidney.
Lots of people said they’d donate one of theirs.
She assumed he would get a transplant right away, but when that didn’t happen, she said the spirit moved her to fill out the application.
Later, while she was ironing, she says God told her that she would be the donor.
“God was in my spirit, just like, ‘You are his match, and you’re going to donate your kidney to him,'” she said.
Williams went on with what she was doing, but later that day she saw she had a missed message from a nurse, who told her that she was a match.
Bennett said he was grateful she listened to that voice.
“Even though the Lord told her, that doesn’t mean she had to do it, okay,” Bennett told CNN affiliate WJLA.
She went through test after test to make sure she was healthy enough to be a donor before they finally had the transplant surgery on April 9, 2019.
Williams stayed at Bennett’s house during their recovery so his mother and sister could look after them.
That’s when Bennett told her he was giving her the shop he owned.
“He was like ‘you need to hurry up and get ready, because I’m going to give you this salon,'” Williams said. She said they’d talked about her buying the shop in the past, but she had no idea that he would give it to her.
Bennett was back on his feet and at work in September and had transferred the salon to her by mid-October, Williams said.
It’s been a whirlwind for Williams since then.
She’s been running her new business and getting ready for the grand opening on Monday of A New Image By Acia.
Bennett had been going through dialysis for 14 months and Williams said she didn’t realize how hard it had been on him until she saw how healthy he looked after the surgery.
“He just looked like a new $100 bill,” she said. “You could just see it instantly.”
Bennett told CNN by text that “I feel amazing” while getting ready for a show at New York Fashion Week.
He told WJLA that he was grateful to be able to jog and walk his dogs again and so he gave her the shop to help show his appreciation.
“I can’t begin to thank you enough for you giving me life, but we can start with you making your dream a reality by having your own salon,” he told the station.