Person of the Week: Norma Miller

March 25, 2009 10:40:10 AM PDT
In a new segment, Eyewitness News is recognizing people who reach out to their neighbors. ABC11's first Person of the Week is a woman who learned first-hand about corporate downsizing and starting over. Now she has found a new career that's nourishing bodies and souls.

Wednesday nights are very busy at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Cary, especially in the kitchen.

Each week "Chef" Norma Miller makes a low cost meal for the congregation as part of Fellowship for Families.

"It started out with 70-80 people and now we're up to 150, and I hope that's my good cooking," Chef Norma said.

But she hasn't been a cook all of her professional life.

A few years ago, her management job at a clothing manufacturer was phased out, so she went decided to enroll in Wake Tech's culinary school. She graduated with honors.

"I was going to do hotel restaurant management, went into the kitchen, took a required course and never got out of the kitchen," Miller said.

Now she's in the church kitchen three days a week, whipping up gourmet meals from scratch. The church only pays her for five hours a week, bit Chef Norma volunteers the rest of her time.

"I didn't think it would be quite as much of a time commitment as it has been, but it has been wonderful because the congregation has just really come out to take advantage of the Wednesday night suppers and it's just like cooking for a great big family," she explained.

When supper is served, there's a line of people waiting. In a few short weeks, everyone figured out Chef Norma's meals are the best deal in town.

"It's very reasonable," Jenny Kolb said. "I have a family of 5 and we all eat for $10."

And for that price in these lean times, the last thing Kolb and Karen West expected was fancy food.

"Every week that I come here I just cannot believe the effort that she has put into it and the care and just the detail of everything that she does," West said.

Chef Norma not only makes the meals, but she also shares her skills with a handful of volunteers, including students from the church school.

"She's there, shorter than all of them, but bossing all of them around, giving them the direction they need for just helping out in the kitchen and serving other people," said Pastor Mark, Resurrection Lutheran Church.

For Chef Norma, serving other people meals made with love is a recipe for happiness she would have never known without an unexpected career change.

"When you try something different, it may not be as lucrative, but it might be really satisfying in many other ways," Chef Norma said. "It can be a blessing, a great blessing that you didn't anticipate."

To nominate someone for Eyewitness News Person of the Week, click here.


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