She's known as the "Cookie Lady" at Travis AFB, and for nearly two decades,
Liz Tilson has volunteered her time, energy and her own money baking her
signature chocolate chip cookies for military families staying at the Travis
AFB Fisher House in California.
Once a week, after a full day of work as a custodian at Vaca Penn Middle
School, she drives the 15 miles to the Travis AFB Fisher House with the
dough she has made at her Vacaville home.
As trays of cookies emerge from the ovens, the sweet smell wafts through the
kitchen and common rooms, attracting the families - especially the children
- who are staying in the house. The cookies cause a traffic jam in the
kitchen - which was designed to help families share their experiences as
they receive medical treatment for war-related injuries and ongoing medical
When Liz doesn't see a face she thinks should be there, she piles cookies
onto a plate and goes searching for them.
Not surprisingly, she has become an extension of the support system at the
Fisher House, taking the time to listen to families working through their
most challenging personal circumstances they have ever faced.
The inspiration for her volunteer work is exceedingly personal: she and her
husband Don spent an extended period of time living in a hotel when they
helped care for a family member who was ill. The emotional support during
that critical time helped them recover, but left a sizable hole in the
Tilson's bank account.
Liz says she likes that Fisher Houses provide free, temporary lodging to
military families while a loved one is receiving medical care, which is why
she volunteers there. And since 1993 - even before the Fisher House opened -
she was volunteering to help raise funds. Now she's raising spirits with her
distinctive treats. A photo of Liz in the Travis Fisher House kitchen is
And it's created some long-term relationships: she still keeps in touch with
many families she has come to know at the Fisher House, and even attended
the wedding of a child she met while at the Fisher House.
"Holidays, birthdays & anniversaries have been celebrated with tears and smiles with people who truly understand what the other person is experiencing."
- Kamryn Jaroszewski