I was born and raised in Jacksonville, FL. I am the second youngest among my four other siblings. I was brought up in a military home; my mother medically retired from the United States Navy after a stroke left her half paralyzed and my father was in the Marines. My parents both instilled in me early on to always be respectful, work hard, and be grateful for what I had. Growing up I always looked up to my older brother Trace and wanted to be just like him. Trace started to work in the financial industry straight out of high school, and I wanted to do the same. He was only a few years older than me which meant in no time I could work with him. It was not very long after I graduated high school and landed that dream job of working at the same company as him. Trace was able to get me in the door, so I worked extra hard to make sure I never disappointed him. I soared in my position, I got promotion after promotion and thought things could not get any better. On top of that, the company I worked for made working hard easy because we worked with military men and women. Any chance I could get to give back to the freedom fighters of the world I would take it!
After five years of hard work, I noticed the company was starting to shift their focus to not being about their mission to help military families. Instead, they focused on expansion and ways to grow their products forgetting the main thing that drove us. I needed to find a way to get closer to the mission. God answered my prayers, and an opportunity came available for me to lead a location in Africa, where I would live alongside the brave men and women of the armed forces.
It was November 7, 2016, and I was eating my last meal in America before I would leave to Africa for who knew how long at the time. I choose to go to my favorite local spot, Maple Street Biscuit Company in Murray Hill. I went with my best friend Jason, and we both got our favorite menu item, the Five and Dime. Jason introduced me to Maple Street back in 2013, and we have been coming here ever since, so it was very fitting I got one last meal there. After eating, we went up to the Community Leader and thanked them for as always great food. We started to talk for a little bit, and she uncovered I was leaving directly there to Africa. Without hesitation, she went to the retail shelf and picked out one of everything to give it to me. She handed me a t-shirt, syrup, a Maple Street mug, a bag of Maple Tap, and told me to think of home while I was gone. This kind gesture would come to mean so much more to me later on and ignite my Maple Street passion.
Going to Africa was a fantastic experience! I got to learn more about myself, and I met some of the real heroes in the world that protect our great country. While in Africa I was missing one thing and that was the close people in my life. I missed my mother who was upset at me for leaving to go to a dangerous part of the world, but what mom would not be sad with their little boy leaving the country. I missed my best friend Jason and his family that were always there for me during tough times in my life. I missed reading to his little girl her favorite books over and over again. Then I missed something odd, going to breakfast with all of them at Maple Street. I started to think about the gesture the woman did for me before I left. She was right, the items she gave me did make me feel of home. It triggered a lot of good memories of the times I spent at Maple Street with my loved ones. I spent Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and my birthday without my friends and family, but always kept thinking about when I go home the first thing I am doing is going to Maple Street. I would wear the shirt she gave me twice a week to think about them and get me through some rough days.
When I completed my time in Africa the first thing I did and a few things after I got home was go to Maple Street. My first day back I went to the Fleming Island location in which I was the first person to have a Five and Dime when it opened before I left in November. I was with Jason again of course and Chad the Community Leader cameup to us. He immediately recognized who I was and welcomed me back. I was blown away again by Maple Street. At this point, I had not been home for seven months and was in shock this person remembered me. I knew somehow I needed to a part of this family. Fast forward to 2018, and I joined the family on a mission to helping people, serving others and being a part of the community. I love being able to make an impact on people’s lives. My goal everyday is to recreate the feeling I have for Maple Street and share it withsomeone else. Please come to say hi and have a Djiboutiful day.
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