Thursday, September 21, 2023

Retired FAA executive spearheads virtual cookbook initiative to raise funds for Avalon

The Avalon Center is collection recipes from locals for a new fundraising virtual cookbook. (WYDaily/Flickr)
The Avalon Center is collection recipes from locals for a new fundraising virtual cookbook. (WYDaily/Flickr)

While many nonprofits look for ways to make up for donation losses due to the coronaivurs pandemic, the Avalon Center has launched a new virtual cookbook to raise funds.

The center provides resources and support for women escaping domestic violence.

The organization typically holds a spring fundraiser that raises $45,000 each year, said Mary Hard, development coordinator for Avalon. But this year the pandemic has put a pause on fundraising efforts and left the organization without the financial support on which it would typically rely.

Enter Joann Kansier.

The Williamsburg resident gathered a group of 12 women to create and distribute a virtual cookbook called “Stir Crazy in Williamsburg.”

Kansier said the idea came when Gov. Ralph Northam first placed the stay-at-home order and she learned that alcoholism and domestic abuse would increase as a result.

“That’s what motivated me,” she said. “I had been meaning to do something for Avalon before then and that flipped a switch in me and I decided I needed to do something.”

Kansier said as a retired Federal Aviation Administration executive, she was used to doing work everyday that made her feel like she had an impact. For years she helped make air traffic safer and more predictable but now that she’s retired, she wanted another way to feel as though she’s helping others.

“When you’ve spent your life being so mission-oriented, you want to feel that you’re still contributing,” she said. “I just feel as if because of all this work, maybe someone’s life will be better.”

Kansier originally started brainstorming ideas for a fundraiser with a small group of friends. Between them they got a list of 500 contacts they reached out to in order to start compiling recipes for a virtual cookbook.

Kansier said at first there was a little hesitation for doing a cookbook because she figured most people just got their recipes online. But now that the pandemic has more people than ever cooking at home, she figured they might want access to easy recipes. 

So the group of women have created a flyer and posted on social media about their new initiative to create a virtual cookbook. In just one week, Kansier said there were 50 recipes donated for the book.

The cookbook is looking to compile recipes in the following categories:

  • All in One Meals
  • Baked Goods and Sweet Treats
  • Chillin’ and Grillin’ (this includes drink recipes)
  • Instant Gourmet
  • Makeover My Leftovers
  • Meatless
  • Slow to Fast (slow cooker and instapot recipes)
  • Soups, Salads and Sides
  • Working with Your Pantry

The idea behind the categories was to get people to donate recipes that involve few ingredients and can be made with household items since many are still avoiding the grocery store. Donated recipes should not be from published cookbooks or online sites.

Once there are enough recipes collected, people can donate a minimum of $25 directly to Avalon and will receive four of the donated recipes in their email every Sunday for at least three months.

To learn more about how to donate, email or visit Avalon online.


Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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