MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Camille Keeler refuses to let the current health pandemic stop her friends and neighbors from having a little fun. Every Tuesday for the past ten months, Keeler has been organizing birthday parades for residents in Mesa's Las Palmas retirement community.
"It's hard to bring people together," said Keeler. "People are scared, and rightfully so. There are so many people that have lost a loved one, can't have visits from friends and neighbors."
"To see people enjoy and get together, somewhat, everybody needs a little socialization, and we're not getting that right now," said Keeler.
The weekly birthday activity has grown in popularity as more and more residents hop in their golf carts to join in the fun, which includes cupcakes, candles, cards, and even ice cream. But Keeler's dedication to her community doesn't stop there. She's also organized Zoom parties with neighbors and a giant fundraiser in her driveway, where she encouraged residents to fill up laundry baskets with food and necessities to be donated to a local charity.
"That's what the whole community is here for so that we can work together to make it a better place for everyone," said Keeler.
Daryl and Marie Braatz have seen what a difference Keeler is making, so they reached out to CBS 5 to Pay it Forward to the woman bringing joy and laughter at a time when neighbors need it most.
"From our community, we want to say thank you," said Marie Braatz. "You have really stepped up in so many different ways to help us during this pandemic, and we really appreciate it."
A CBS 5 news crew showed up this week to watch Daryl and Marie give Keeler a $500 gift card.
"We have nominated you because we feel you have done so many things for our community," said Marie Braatz. "During this pandemic time, it's hard to do things, and so you have made it nicer for our community."
"On behalf of Channel 5 and Pay it Forward, here is a $500 gift card for you," said Braatz.
"I like to keep myself busy, and I like to make people happy," said Keeler.