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A real estate agent, Camille Ackermann is quite involved in Madison. She tends her garden and makes flower arrangements as proprietor of Flowers by Camille, heads a group of early-morning walkers, and lately, makes face mask extenders and gives them out for free to anyone required to wear face masks for a prolonged period. (Photo courtesy of Camille Ackermann )
Camille Ackermann shows how the face extender is worn behind her head. The extender is designed with little hooks on which the elastic of a face mask can be anchored to relieve pressure from the ears and provide a more comfortable fit. (Photo courtesy of Camille Ackermann )
The face mask extenders that Camille Ackermann makes with a 3D printer are shown here. The extender is designed with little hooks on which the elastic of a face mask can be anchored to relieve pressure from the ears and provide a more comfortable fit. (Photo courtesy of Camille Ackermann )
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Wearing a face mask has now become part of people’s daily routine to help stop the spread of COVID-19. But for many, prolonged use of a mask can feel restrictive or result in headaches and irritation around the ears.
Just ask Camille Ackermann.
While she thinks wearing a mask for a long time feels stifling, her daughter, Samantha, a pediatric nurse, has it even worse.
Sam, as Camille calls her, needs to wear a mask for 12 to 13 hours a day when she’s at work.
“The elastic behind the ears caused [her] irritation, headaches, and sores,” Camille says.
So, with a bit of research online, Sam found an extender that could solve her problem. It’s a strip of sturdy plastic meant to be worn at the back of the head. The extender is designed with little hooks on which the elastic of a face mask can be anchored to relieve pressure from the ears and provide a more comfortable fit.
She brought the idea to Bob, her father and Camille’s husband. Using his 3D printer, Bob started making the extender.
With her daughter’s problem solved, Camille decided to take the solution up a few notches.
She kept the 3D printing running to make more extenders.
“It takes the 3D printer one hour and 45 minutes to make five extenders,” she says.
In total, Camille has made over a thousand extenders—1,500 to be exact.
She passed them out to friends and family members who needed them.
Next, she sent them to several departments at Yale New Haven Hospital, as well as the V.A. Hospital in West Haven, Rehab Concepts and the Big Y in Guilford, and the Salon Epic and Artis Senior Living in Branford.
She also went beyond Connecticut and sent her extenders to the Artis Senior Living in Elmhurst, Illinois, Boone Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, and the Desert Regional Medical Center in California.
“They are for anyone who wears a mask all day and want to take the pressure and pain off the ears,” she explains.
Nowadays, there are many face extenders sold online, but Camille gives them out for free.
“They really work,” she says. “We will continue making [them] as long as there is a need.”
For anyone who needs extenders, Camille can be contacted at CamilleAckermann@comcast.net.
Camille and Bob have been residents of Madison for 35 years. In addition to their daughter, they also have a son, Nik, a software engineer.
Professionally, Camille has been a licensed realtor for 23 years. She currently works at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services in Madison.
“I enjoy helping people buy and sell homes. It gives me the greatest honor to be part of a huge life purchase,” she says.
Although COVID-19 has affected virtually every business, Camille says that the real estate business has adapted to the change.
“People are actively buying homes. We wear masks, wash our hands, socially distance, [and] offer virtual open house days. We are open for business,” she explains.
When she is not taking care of her real estate clients, she can be found tending to her blooms. She is proprietor of Flowers by Camille, which specializes in summer flower arrangements and cut flowers grown locally in her garden.
Her floral arrangements can be seen on her Facebook page for Flowers by Camille. She can be reached via cell phone, 203-640-1083, or her Facebook page. Floral arrangements can be delivered upon request.
But flowers are not the only things growing in her garden. She also plants vegetables that include arugula, beans, beets, kohlrabi, peas, eggplant, zucchini, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peppers. She gives the vegetables to friends or includes a tomato or two in her flower arrangements as a bonus to customers.
Still, another activity that occupies her time is her movie group. Although the pandemic has temporarily halted movie showings, Camille looks forward to watching films again with her friends.
“My movie club, Shoreline Movie Club, is open to all who love seeing a movie on the big screen,” she says. “We meet every Friday at the Regal in Branford and we looking forward to their opening soon.”
But one other pursuit that has not been halted by the outbreak is walking outdoors, and Camille has found a way to maximize it. She formed a group of early-morning walkers.
“We have been out every day since March 18. We meet at Meigs Point in Hammonasset Beach at 8:15 a.m. I am the instructor and photographer and it’s a lot of fun and a great workout,” she says.
The group welcomes slow, medium-paced, or fast walkers, regardless of age. She has posted some of her pictures with her friends on Facebook as well.
She is also a member of the Guilford Garden Club and the Westbrook Elks lodge 1764. Clearly, she enjoys keeping busy and, as an active member of her community, she takes pride in her little contributions to make a difference.
She finds fulfillment in being involved and helping those in need—which is perhaps why she willingly stepped up to make those 1,500 face mask extenders.
“It’s our way of giving back and helping others in these difficult times,” she says.
Reflecting on the pandemic, she adds, “As humans, we will overcome because we adapt to change.”
To nominate a Person of the Week, email m.caulfield@ shorepublishing.com.
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!