By Stephanie Stahl

Follow CBSPHILLY Facebook  | Twitter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) —  It was billed as Bayada’s gratitude lunch. The employees — home healthcare workers — didn’t know what they were in for, until the boss revealed the surprise.

“I’m taking $20 million, dividing it up and giving it to everybody,” Bayada founder Mark Baiada.

It was an emotional announcement from the owner.

“I wanted to show some gratitude to everybody for all the hard work you’ve done taking care of our clients,” he said.

Philadelphia Police Buy And Deliver 450 Thanksgiving Dinners

It’s a $1.4 billion company with 26,000 employees. But for the guy who started it, people who know him say instead of being a greedy corporate giant, Baiada is a generous boss who cares about his team.

“I just want to say thank you to them all,” he said of his employees. “Thanksgiving is a season of gratitude. You look around your life and say, ‘I’m so fortunate.'”

The $20 million he’s giving to employees is being divided, based on seniority.

“Much needed, very much appreciated,” nurse Nicole Green said. “A very nice surprise.”

Cassandra Freeman has been taking care of Bayada clients for 38 years.

For Freeman, a mother of three, and a night nurse to a quadriplegic patient, her gift was $6,550.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “I can use it.”

Americans Sit Too Much, CDC Says

“For me, it’s the relationships — working with all these people for such a long time, I really have heartfelt thanks and I want to express it,” Baiada said.

And in this season of giving, for employees like Freeman — more than money — their gratitude comes from this:

“I love what I do, I love giving,” Freeman said.

With the money she’s receiving, Freeman says she’ll give some to her two kids in college and then buy some tires, something she says she desperately needs.

Bayada is being converted from a private company to a non-profit early next year, which is why Baiada decided to give away the money now.

Stephanie Stahl