THIS CAMPAIGN ISN'T MINE
“Service to others is the rent we pay on earth” – Muhummad Ali
My history of service started as a child in a family of eight growing up in Arcadia , FL. My dad worked as a landscaper, a construction worker, and a construction supervisor who provided the infrastructure for transportation throughout Florida building bridges. One of the largest projects he worked on in the 80’s was the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg, FL. As a teenager, my dad took me to the Skyway bridge and said, “One day you will be able ride across this bridge, and tell your children that their grand father helped build this bridge.” That’s one of the stories that I still smile about today.
My mom (deceased) worked her way from being a cook to a nurse. She worked at a hospital for 35 years. After school, sometimes I would go with my mother to help clean homes to help supplement our household income. So taking care of people, working hard, and being responsible is a natural thing for me to do.
During high school I participated in multiple clubs, marching band, and church. My first job during my senior year was as a Clerk at the DeSoto County Commissioners office. After two years of college, in March 1988 I entered bootcamp at the US Navy Recruit Training Center in Orlando , FL. I served on active duty as an Information Technician Specialist aboard the USNS John Lenthall and USS Yellowstone during Operation Desert Storm in the 90’s. During my time on active duty I started a business to make sure I had income once I decided to get out. I was honorably discharged in 1996, and shortly afterwards, I joined the US Naval Reserves but received the Presidential Recall back to active duty for two years in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom during the 9/11 attacks. I am proud to say I am now retired from my military service after over 20 years combined active duty and reserve service. Now I have the privilege of helping others start their businesses, serve nonprofits, and speaking nationwide. I am the author of five books including one about my recall during 9/11.
I would serve all over again. I fought so that others can have freedom, justice, and equality.
“We don’t remember days, we remember moments.” -Cesare Pavese
When I’m working, often I think of where I came from. From a small cow town, and now I’ve had the honor to speak to leaders on a national and local level. I’ve written grants, been a grant reviewer for HUD, United Way, City of Orlando, and helped hundreds of nonprofit organizations nationwide. I’ve served on a Panel of CEO’s and Entrepreneurs to help the University of Phoenix develop a new Master’s Degree Program for Entrepreneurs. I know business, and I know who’s been left behind.
“You may never know what results comes from your actions. But if you do nothing – there will be no results.” – Gandhi
These are the words I try to live by so that my daughter and son can see an example of someone who is full of faith and a risk taker. My daughter is mother of my only two grandchildren, works full-time, and attends college. My only son is now serving our country in the US Navy. Family is everything to us.
More about Aretha
- Former Grant Writer and Great Reviews for Hud, United Way and City of Orlando
- Community Volunteer & Board Member for Multiple Nonprofits
- Nominee for Girl Scouts Women of Distinction
- Author of Five Books
- College Instructor for Five Years
- Associate of Culinary Arts (Johnson & Wales University)
- Bachelor’s of Business Management (University of Phoenix)
- Master’s of Education (Nova Southeastern University)