Natalie's Everyday Heroes: Monica Cammack provides hot meals for seniors throughout pandemic
GERMANTOWN, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Meal deliveries for homebound senior citizens have always been an important service, but they’ve become even more important during the pandemic. Seniors get a hot and healthy meal, delivered right to their door, without any risks of going out.
But getting the meals packaged and delivered has been a challenge, because fewer people have been able to volunteer because of Covid-19.
But one woman in Germantown is running a kitchen all by herself, to make sure seniors still get fed.
If you step inside the Germantown Senior Center, things are pretty quiet. The pool table is covered, the chairs are stacked and the dining room is empty.
“Today, we have pork roast,” said Monica Cammack, scooping a piece of pork into a container.
Cammack’s kitchen is busier than ever.
“It keeps me out of trouble,” she said with a laugh. “It makes me appreciate the volunteers more than what I already did.”
Since the pandemic started, she’s been single-handedly serving, sealing and packing some of the 5,800 meals Washington County delivers to seniors who can’t leave home.
She’s been the Nutrition Site Meal Manager for 15 years, through the Aging and Disability Resource Center of Washington County.
“Seniors are treasures! You know, they really are,” she said with sincerity.
Since the senior center shut down in March because of Covid-19, Cammack has come up with a system to have it all organized when her volunteer drivers arrive.
“I have three different routes that get delivered in the community,” she explained as she packed up the three different loads.
She helps the drivers pack the food up in their cars.
“All right, Alice. You are all ready,” she said, closing the car door.
And she sends them on their way. When asked what she thinks the hot food means to her clients, she thought for a minute.
“I think it means a sense of being able to stay in their homes longer. It means they have something hot and healthy to eat,” Cammack replied.
Alice Resch has been volunteering and delivering hot meals for more than ten years, ever since she retired.
“Hi, Elizabeth! You need some help with this,” she asked a client as she brought the food to her door.
Resch said the delivery route has changed.
“We go to the door. We knock on the door, and we place it there,” she said. “Then we go back to our car and we wait to make sure they come to the door, they get the meal and they safely get back in the house.”
It’s a process to keep everyone socially distanced. But Resch said the hot meal is more than a chance to feed the seniors on her 25 mile route.
“It's a contact for them with the outside world. If we see something that doesn't seem correct, we will mention it to Monica,” Resch said.
And she knows Cammack’s hard work is appreciated.
“Yes, because they answer the door very quickly,” Resch said with a laugh. “I think they were afraid at one point, that they would stop receiving the meals.”
But Cammack made sure the meals didn’t stop. Back at the kitchen, she greats Susan Hafert, who came to pick up her meal in person.
“Hi, Sue,” she said with a smile.
Clients who can drive are now welcomed back in to the Senior Center to get their food.
“This is my dinner, tonight,” Hafert said.
She’s known Cammack for 15 years as a volunteer and as a client. She appreciates the chance to catch up and chat.
“I think she's been a godsend,” Hafert said.
For Cammack, she’s looking forward to things returning to normal in her kitchen someday.
“It's a little lonely, because I don't get to see them all the time,” she said, tearing up. “See, I get emotional.”
Emotional, because she cares. A plaque on the wall in the dining room reads, “be thankful, live simply, be kind.” And that pretty much sums up Cammack’s work with the program.
“Just the satisfaction of putting together meals that I know people are going to appreciate, and I don't take that for granted,” she said with a smile.
To find out more about the meal delivery program, or to volunteer, click here.
If you’d like to nominate someone for Natalie’s Everyday Heroes, just send Natalie an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.