For 24 years, customers at the Ocean View Family Restaurant have been the recipients of Cheryl Monroe’s friendliness as she served them short stacks for breakfast and crabcakes for dinner.
But since Aug. 8, when a brain aneurysm struck Monroe and she was flown to Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia, the community has been attempting to repay her for her years of kindness.
Monroe’s friend Michelle Reynolds said that, although Monroe is making good progress and did not suffer any paralysis from the injury to her brain, she faces a long recovery. And since Monroe has no health insurance, it will be extremely expensive.
Reynolds initially set up a GoFundMe webpage to collect money for Monroe, and that effort has resulted in about $18,000, to date, being set aside in a trust fund for her medical expenses.
Reynolds said she felt it was the least she could do for her friend. She said she first befriended Monroe when she took her autistic son to the restaurant, and Monroe immediately went to work making the boy feel welcome. Over the years, she said, the restaurant became a place where she knew she could take her son, whose behavior sometimes attracts attention and makes it hard sometimes to comfortably take her family out to eat, she said.
In later years, as Reynolds herself battled cancer and sometimes just didn’t feel like cooking, she would often find herself eating at the restaurant. When she heard about Monroe’s illness, she wanted to help.
At first, she said, she found herself just helping the restaurant staff, many of whom where distraught about Monroe and were a bit lost without her guidance in the busy restaurant — Monroe was one of two head waitresses there and often wore many hats during a shift, Reynolds said.
Tragedy had already struck Monroe’s family before her illness — her brother had died just one day before she fell ill. The restaurant already had a fundraising jar for her brother’s medical costs; it then became a jar for Monroe herself. And when the GoFundMe webpage was activated, Reynolds said, money started pouring in.
“We raised $700 in just the first day,” she said.
Realizing that Monroe will need help with medical expenses not covered by Medicaid for quite some time, Reynolds began planning the first of what she hopes will be a series of community events for her.
This Sunday, Sept. 9, a benefit dinner will be held at the Millville Volunteer Fire Company’s fire hall for Monroe. The dinner will feature several choices of entrees, prepared by Ocean View Family Restaurant, including seafood pasta, roast beef, pan-fried chicken and spaghetti.
Music will be provided by the Jamboree Boys, led by state Sen. Gerald Hocker.
“Gerald Hocker has been great,” Reynolds said.
A silent auction will feature vacation packages and other items, including two baskets of books and a fishing rod, she said. There will also be three raffles throughout the evening.
Doors will open at 4 p.m. for the dinner; food will be served beginning at 5 p.m. Take-out dinners will be available for sale on the day of the event, but tickets for eating in the fire hall must be bought ahead of time. Tickets cost $30 for adults, $10 for children ages 4 to 12, and children under 4 can eat free of charge. The event will be alcohol-free.
Tickets are available in person at Ocean View Family Restaurant, 42 Atlantic Avenue, Ocean View, or online at www.eventbrite.com/e/cheers-for-cheryl-tickets-49364961930.
Items are still needed for the auctions. Anyone wishing to donate an item should call Michelle Reynolds at (443) 553-5368. Volunteers are also welcome, particularly to help with cleanup after the event.