"Don't call me a YouTube star," says Gloria Donahue with a hearty laugh. "Call me Nana. Everyone does, and I love it!"
Eight years ago, Gloria ("Nana") began whipping up delectable treats for YouTube audiences hungry for simple, delicious recipes. Her channel, aptly named "Nana's Cookery," was inspired by her grandchildren: Paige Donahue who, coincidentally, works for YouTube, and Tom Miller, who shoots the videos.
When they approached Gloria about creating the cooking show, she agreed immediately. "I performed as a Sweet Adeline [an international organization of women singers] for years and had no fear of the camera," she recounts. "I baked for a local gourmet shop, so I thought, why not? Little did I know it would turn into a long-term project."
Gloria's first video for "Perfect Flakey Pie Crust" has more than one million views. "I still get compliments on it," she says. "And I love working with Tom. How many YouTube contributors get to hug their cameraman?"
'Desserts were everything'
Gloria's desserts have always been the star of every meal. "When I threw a party, I spent four hours on dessert and opened a box of peas for dinner," she says with a smile.
She and her husband Dan threw many parties in the home they shared for 49 years. When they were ready to leave the burdens of homeownership behind, the long-time priority list members knew they wanted a large, two-bedroom, two-bath apartment with a balcony and a lovely view at Ann's Choice. They found their perfect apartment home and moved to the Buck's County, Pa., community in May 2019.
"Dan needed some persuading at first, but a few weeks after we were settled, he said, 'I don't miss the house,'" says Gloria. "It's not so hard to leave your home, in truth. You're not giving up anything, and Ann's Choice is a wonderful, wonderful place. We have everything we want outside our door and couldn't be happier. And as much as I love to cook, now I only do it when I want to!"
More than recipes
Nana's Cookery has opened doors for Gloria's videographer, Tom. In 2016, he was accepted to a YouTube Creators Conference. Offered twice a year, only ten creators are chosen for each session. They spend a week in New York enhancing their skills, networking, and learning how to grow their businesses. "It has led to so many new opportunities for him," says Gloria. "I was thrilled that he got to participate."
Gloria sees her videos as much more than how-to's for home cooks. "Nana's Cookery is about making human connections," she says. "As I chopped and mixed, I shared experiences about travel, illnesses, childhood, and it must have struck a chord. People wrote in with their own stories…it was gratifying.
"I still marvel at the overwhelming kindness of the people who comment," she continues. "Their concern has gotten me through some pretty tough times. All we hear about is the viciousness of social media, but I have felt the warmth of strangers."
While most reviews of the channel have been positive, she laughs about the not-so-complimentary ones. "One man wrote, 'Hurry up and make the pie already!' I laughed and replied, 'I'm baking at my speed. Try another channel, because watching me will drive you crazy.'"
Gloria's sunny disposition and positive outlook shine in every episode. She says, "I'm blessed in that I believe it will be OK, no matter what happens. If you wait till everything is perfect, you'll never do anything. So, get out there, take a risk, and trust that it's all going to work out for the best." Including your pie crust.
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