Your Neighbor: Meet Donna Kamper

Published 12:05 am Thursday, May 25, 2023

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By Mandy Haggerson
For the Clemmons Courier

CLEMMONS — Donna Kamper was the youngest of two children in a Union City, New Jersey, family.

“We lived on a gigantic cul-de-sac,” Kamper said. “It was an interesting area. There was a rifle range on our street, and at the end also stood a marina where my parents and grandparents would store their boats on the water. We were out on the water often, which was very relaxing and a great way to spend time together as a family.

“We lived with my grandparents and some cousins, too, because my grandparents owned an apartment building. We were never short on something to do. Interestingly, I recently connected with someone on Facebook who lived upstairs in the apartment. Her mother had lived to be 102, and it was nice to catch up again.”

During that time, Kamper developed a love for animals.

“We had a pony that we cared for at someone else’s farm,” Kamper said. “I wasn’t taking riding lessons, but loved spending time with it.”

As Kamper got older and considered her next steps, she was drawn to becoming a dental hygienist.

“I started working in Princeton, New Jersey,” Kamper said. “I found pretty quickly that I enjoyed that line of work.”

A natural for helping others and her outgoing personality helped Kamper excel in her field.

Kamper met her future husband, Reiner, through mutual friends, even though she initially resisted.

“I was living in New Jersey, and he was living and working in New York City,” Kamper said. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with the commute. He was really cute, so I gave in.”

After two years of dating, the couple married in 1997. They bought a home in Teaneck, New Jersey, and Mr. Kamper continued commuting to New York City for work.

“Traffic can really wear on you after a while, and we talked about moving,” Kamper said. “At that point, we had a daughter, Savannah, and my husband was stuck in traffic often instead of being home with us. We had some good friends who had moved to Clemmons and loved it, so we started job hunting.”

The Kampers moved to Clemmons in 2001 and were grateful to join such a welcoming community.

“We live in Clemmons West and have loved having such great neighbors,” Kamper said. “When we first moved in, our house didn’t have a front porch. My husband built one for us because we knew that we wanted people to come over and visit. Rain or shine, we love having people over to our house and entertaining. For the past 11 years, we have had progressive parties where you start at one neighbor’s house for a signature cocktail, go to someone else’s house for an appetizer, then to someone else’s house for soup, and finish up at another person’s house for dessert. We also do themes, and it’s just a fun way to spend time with your neighbors who have become like family.

“Our last party was destination-weddings themed because my husband and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary. We had gotten married in Vegas, so it was fun for us to remember it.”

Kamper is excited about the next one planned in September with her neighbors.

If not visiting with friends and neighbors, Kamper enjoys continuing to work part-time as a dental hygienist, planting in her gardens and tending to her chickens.

“During COVID-19, we started growing a garden, and it has evolved,” Kamper said. “We now have five raised beds, and it’s been a lot of fun. We’ve grown squash, zucchini, beets, tomatoes, pumpkins, peppers and pickling cucumbers. A neighbor taught me how to can pickles, and last year I had about 65 jars. Her recipe was just delicious.

“We also added the chickens for fresh eggs, but they are also like our pets. They get to roam around in our backyard during the day, and the chicken coup that my husband and daughter made is where they sleep at night. Anyone who’s had fresh eggs knows the difference when eating them.”

Aside from celebrating her successful green thumb, the Kampers recently came together to recognize their daughter’s accomplishments at Appalachian State University (ASU).

“Savannah just graduated from Appalachian’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program,” Kamper said. “We are so proud of her. She’s worked really hard, and it was an exciting time for us to celebrate. As a parent, it’s very rewarding to see your children grow and thrive.”