Salt of the City: Donna Camacho

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Donna Camacho // Photo by Molly Hayden

IN A MIDTOWN OFFICE, amid papers, crowded tables and several boxes of purple shirts — all for an upcoming event — Donna Camacho explains that she and her two sisters were raised with an instinct for service in their DNA: One sister works with Bridge Ministry of the CSRA in Augusta, feeding the hungry; the other volunteers with James Island Outreach in Charleston, serving low-income families. Camacho’s cause? The Savannah chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

Camacho has a deeply personal relationship with the organization — her mother, who resided in Charleston, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease when she was in her late 70s.

“At first, my sisters and I were in denial,” Camacho says, “but as we accepted the diagnosis, we had questions. How will this disease progress? What can we expect her to be able to do? What behaviors can we expect?” Camacho found the answers to those questions and more at the Alzheimer’s Association, and she now shepherds other caregivers who provide help and guidance to families living with a diagnosis.

Since volunteering for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in 2005, Camacho, a retired registered nurse, has filled a range of positions at the organization, from answering phones and stuffing envelopes to serving as a co-chair for the Coastal Board of Directors and the State Board of Directors. “I’ve done it all,” she says.

As far as maintaining such important work, Camacho sees no end in sight. “A couple years ago, I was feeling burned out,” she says, but the association’s annual meeting in Washington, DC, that same year reinvigorated her. “I haven’t thought about taking a break since.”