CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – She was at the top of her game in special ops, standing post for presidential visits, until a training injury made her leave the job she had loved; now, she’s serving in a different way.
Angela Witzel of Crossville has built a community around her love of restoring old things after her injury driven retirement from the Secret Service.
Rustic mason jars and hand-painted furniture lovingly restored in Witzel’s beautifully appointed shop, Dogwood Exchange was born out of a desire to serve her community when she had to leave her career serving our country.
“I had a training accident (that) blew out my knee and had to medically retire from the Secret Service,” Witzel said. “I was doing a training exercise at night and we were carrying a 180-pound mannequin on a stretcher with our gear on and we started taking simulated fire and we went to move left and my right leg didn’t follow me.”
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Witzel and her husband, who is also a federally retired law enforcement officer, decided Crossville was a good place to raise their son, so they moved here from Washington, D.C.
“I was kind of like ‘ok, what now’ and I was still kind of struggling with who I am now – it took me a long time to get where I was at – the Secret Service has like 10 percent women and I was the only female at the time in special ops.”
So she opened Dogwood Exchange; pouring her energy into transforming often discarded pieces of furniture into whimsical works of art.
On March 28, she quickly added to her inventory by spearheading the Protecting the Plateau Project that resulted in an astounding 10,300 protective cloth masks donated to health care workers and others on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The masks, sewn by members of the community, are picked up and dropped off at a drive-thru Witzel set up at her store, Dogwood Exchange.
The local emergency management agency worked with Witzel to distribute the masks.
“That’s just unbelievable and she’s just a remarkable woman that’s done a lot of good,” Rick Williams, Emergency Management Director, said.
Artist Sally Neckvatal saw the project in action and let us know that Angela Witzel was a hero.
“That’s why I nominated her, is to give her the acknowledgment she deserved for what she does for this community,” Neckvatal said.
Thank you, Angela Witzel, for a lifetime of dedication to your country and your community.
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