Staff Spotlight: Meet Head Chef, Hannah Flannery

Position: Head Chef

Town: Readfield, ME

Have you done similar work in the past?I started working in a pizza shop in high school. I have done seasonal cooking on the coast of Maine, worked as the mixer/baker in a bagel shop in Colorado, and food runner and waitress in a western steakhouse too. I’m also a 20-year consultant with Pampered Chef, which gives me recipes and quick food prep skills to incorporate into my job now. I have ventured into other jobs but always come back to cooking.

How long have you worked at the Foundation?I was hired in 2019, so coming up on 4 years in July. I started as a volunteer in 2017.

Hannah with Travis Mills, founder of Travis Mills Foundation

Why did you want to work at TMF?

In my time as a volunteer, I worked with all the cooks who came before me. As I watched them work, I kept thinking about what I would do if I got the chance. Then the job opened up, and there was my chance. I think all of us here want this place to feel like home to everyone that walks through the doors, no matter the program they attend. I grew up loving Sunday dinners my mom cooked around the wood cookstove in our house. All of those feelings, loving the home-cooked food, was what I wanted to create for others to look forward to as they come “home to TMF.”

What’s your favorite part of working at TMF?

Honestly, I love hearing people be amazed at how good something was they ate, knowing it was something we made with just a few simple ingredients. Also, this is one of the most beautiful places to drive into each day and go to work. Knowing the difference we make in people’s lives by bringing them here to enjoy the place is the icing on the cake.

Do you have a favorite story you’d like to share from your time here?

“Barrier Free” is part of our mission, to me that means food too. Accommodating food allergies and diet choices is something we do every week. I have friends who are celiac and family with egg, dairy and nut allergies as well as a long-time friend that is vegetarian. I think of them when I see a guest coming with any of these food challenges and want to do my best for them to not worry about a meal while they are here.

One mom and son who attended were thrilled when I made dairy and gluten-free chocolate donuts for him. These are things he never gets to indulge in because they are hard to find. He was doubly thrilled when he came back to lunch, and there were still donuts. Mom let him have another before tacos-and the smile on his face was priceless.

My other story I love to share because it literally makes me cry every single time. Now I joke about it with her. When Laura first attended the retreat she was so extremely grateful and shared with me how she was able to relax and truly enjoy her time here in large part because we were taking the reins and cooking for her. Laura cooks for her family of 8 and cares for her recalibrated husband every day at home. Its hard to wrap it all in words but the hug and thank you when she left said it all. It is truly why I love what I do here.

What is your favorite feature of the Retreat/Foundation?

Our PATHH program is my favorite part of what happens here. While ALL our programs serve veterans and their families, in most of the programs the participants have choices to do what they want, where they want to challenge themselves. In PATHH they come with a goal to learn a new way to work through their struggles with no idea of the process that will get them there. It is truly amazing to watch the shift happen in the 7 days they are here. I had a close friend come through the first women’s program we ever ran and thanked me for the chance to attend as it had truly changed her life. I say “I just feed their souls while they work through the rest” but again, it’s why I love what I do here.

About the Travis Mills Foundation

The Travis Mills Foundation is a nonprofit organization that supports post 9/11 veterans who experienced life changing injuries while in service to our country. The Travis Mills Foundation Veterans Retreat offers our nation’s recalibrated veterans and their families a week-long, barrier free, all expenses-paid experience at its world-class retreat in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine. It offers various programs that help these brave men and women overcome physical and emotional obstacles, strengthen their families, and provide well-deserved rest and relaxation. The Foundation also offers the Warrior PATHH Program (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) for post-911 combat veterans and first responders, the nation’s first of its kind program designed to cultivate and facilitate Post-Traumatic Growth. Learn more >>>