THIS CAMPAIGN ISN'T MINE
“Service to others is the rent we pay on earth” – Muhummad Ali
My history of service started when I was a child in a family of eight brothers and sisters growing up in Arcadia,FL. My father worked as a landscaper, a construction worker, and was also a supervisor for the development of bridges and other important infrastructure throughout the state. One of the largest projects he supervised was the development of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in St. Petersburg during the 1980’s. I remember when I was a teenager, my father took me to the Skyway bridge and said, “One day you will be able ride across this bridge, and tell your children that their grandfather helped build this bridge.” That is one of the many stories I have of my father that still makes me smile to this day.
My mother started off working as a cook at G. Pierce Wood Memorial Hospital before she began her career as a nurse in a hospital for over 35 years. After school, I would sometimes go with my mother to help clean homes to help supplement our household income. Even though my mother passed away a few years ago, I know that her hard-working and caring nature remains with me to this day.
During my high school years, I participated in multiple clubs, marching band, and my local church community. My first job was during my senior year, when I worked as a Clerk for the DeSoto County Commissioner’s office. After my first two years of college, 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 would have an income for whenever I decided to leave the military. I was honorably discharged in 1996, and shortly afterwards, I joined the US Naval Reserves. It was at this time I received the Presidential Recall back to active duty for two years in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle during the 9/11 attacks. I am proud to say that I am now retired after over 20 years of service on active duty and reserve. Since I retired, I have had the privilege of helping others start their businesses, serving nonprofits, and speaking nationwide to others about my journey. I am also the author of five books including one about my recall to active duty during 9/11.
I would not trade my time in the military for anything and I would proudly serve my country all over again. The Navy gave me the opportunity to fight so that others could have freedom, justice, and equality.
Photo credit Al Rosero
“We don’t remember days, we remember moments.” -Cesare Pavese
Even though I am focused on my work everyday, I never forget where I came from. After growing up in a small, rural town, I’ve since had the honor to speak to leaders on a local and national level. I’ve written and reviewed grants for HUD, United Way, the City of Orlando, and also 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 when someone has 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 strive to live by so that my daughter and son can have an example of someone who is strong in their faith faith and a risk taker. My daughter is the mother of my only two grandchildren, works full-time as a school teacher, and attends college. My only son is now serving our country in the US Navy. Family is everything to us. The hard-working and caring qualities I learned from my parents when I was a kid continues on through my children.
More about Aretha
- Former Grant Writer and Great Reviews for HUD, United Way and City of Orlando
- Community Volunteer for Multiple Nonprofits
- Nominee for Girl Scouts Women of Distinction Award
- Author of Five Books- The Best Guide for Nonprofit Corporations, Deadly Force Recall, The Power of the 501c3, Grant Writing Tools, and The Best Guide for Nonprofit Consultants
- Founder of Multiplying Talents -document preparers for IRS Nonprofit 501c(3) established in 1999
- Member of Christian Family Worship Center
- Member of League of Women Voters
- Former College Instructor of Le Cordon Bleu
- Former Wedding Cake Designer & Business Owner
- Associate of Culinary Arts (Johnson & Wales University)
- Bachelor’s of Business Management (University of Phoenix)
- Master’s of Education (Nova Southeastern University)
Daughter & Son
Paid for by Aretha Simons for City of Orlando Mayor