It is my pleasure to introduce you to an amazing woman who really does it all, Maria E. Montes. This woman wears many hats and all of them involve helping people.
- From 1976 to 1979 she attended Borough Manhattan Community College.
- Maria is an HR/Benefits Administrator for Seminole Masonry, a construction company.
- She is also a certified wedding planner and a Florida notary. If you have an event to plan in Florida, she’s the person to contact. Her event planning business is called Events Unlimited by M.
- Mrs. Montes is also Chairperson of the Fundraising and Events Committee for Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach. Their mission is to extend their hands and hearts to support those needing help battling breast cancer by improving the quality of life for them and their families.
The first time I met Maria was when I attended her son Richie’s engagement party with my then fiance Anthony. She was the one who planned and decorated the whole event. I was so impressed by her work that I told Anthony that we NEEDED to hire her for our wedding. When it came time for us to start planning our wedding, Mrs. Montes made it so stress-free for us. She suggested some of the most perfect venues for us that fell well within our budget. She had so many connections when it came to vendors, venues, the baker, etc. She really worked her magic for us. My husband and I have been married 2 years and to this day, I still get compliments on our wedding. Thank you, Mrs. Montes!
Enough from me. I’ll let Maria tell her story in her own words.
I am a native New Yorker, born and raised in Manhattan and moved to Florida in the year 2000. My mother was born in La Paz, Bolivia, and my father was from Camuy, Puerto Rico. My mother came to this country in an era where very few people, if any, spoke Spanish yet she worked hard and raised two daughters. She was determined to make sure we got an education and had the choices to become whatever we wanted to. I guess I inherited my determined spirit from her.
On August 23, 2016, I celebrated my 36th wedding anniversary to Edward Montes. Seems like it was yesterday. I remember the night I met him, I said to myself, “He is the man I’m going to marry”. And I did. I have a son, Richard E Montes, that is the apple of my eye and I have no words to express accurately how proud I am of the man he has grown up to be. He is my legacy. Although he is an adult and a married man, I will still ferociously protect him from anyone who would try to bring him any harm.His wife, Natasha, whom I love dearly because she makes my son happy and I know she truly loves him. I am truly blessed having her for my daughter-in-law.
Besides being a wife and mother, I work a full-time job and have a wedding/event planning business. I have been in Human Resources for over 25 years. I have always enjoyed being an HR professional. Like with any career, it has its ups and downs. The plus side is helping employees become good at their jobs and build positive morale so they feel they are not just employees but part of a team that impacts the growth of a company. Having to reprimand or terminate someone that you have gotten to know is the downside.
I have also been an event planner/coordinator since 2008. This to me is my passion and what helps me destress from my job. Going through my 2-day certification course really confirmed that I was meant to do this. I enjoy seeing a couple’s wedding day be what they envisioned it to be, a birthday party turn out exactly how they were hoping it would, or a fundraiser achieving the goals and success it was hoping for. I try to have their events reflect the personalities of my clients for then, I know I was successful. I listen to them describe their dream event and offer suggestions on how we can make it happen. I also don’t take on clients whose events are very close together, date wise. I know I would not be able to dedicate my time to handle their events 100%. I have been told that I seem more like a “boutique” planner since I do everything myself and don’t have any assistants. I never thought of myself like that but it does make sense. I like to make my clients feel that I have their best interests at heart and I am there for them from beginning to end.
I am also a breast cancer survivor. In January 2010, I received my diagnosis. I had surgery in February 2010, followed by 5 weeks of radiation treatment. I will forever be grateful to my husband who was by my side from the beginning to the end. He was my rock. Edward was there to make sure all the questions were asked and made sure the answers we were getting back made sense. During this time, I remained positive and had a good attitude. Without him, I know that would not have happened. My co-workers, at the time, were like mother hens. When I went to work after my daily radiation treatment, they made sure that I rested and got me anything I needed. I had Uncle Shane call me and make me laugh. I will never forget those times and I will always be grateful to them for that.
I remember my doctor telling me how lucky I was to have the support that I did from family and friends. I thought this was a strange comment so I asked him why because I just thought that everyone would have the same support from family and friends. He told me that I would be surprised as to how many women didn’t. That remark left a lasting impression on me.
In 2013, I became a volunteer for Compassionate Hands and Hearts Breast Cancer Outreach. It is a non-profit organization founded by Vanessa Echols, WFTV news anchor, who is a 12-year breast cancer survivor herself. We help women going through the journey by providing emotional and financial help. We have monthly outreaches and meet these women, who we call “Warriors”, and let them know they are not alone. Some have lost their jobs and have no insurance, have no family, husbands have abandoned them and family doesn’t know how to help or choose not to. Meeting these women every month always reminds me of what my doctor told me, “How lucky I was to have the support that I do”.So now I give back and be the support that some of these women don’t have.
I don’t believe I am anybody special. I believe that I am there for my family and friends with no strings attached. I help and do things because I want to do it not because I am obligated to do so. There is a difference and if I am able to make even a little difference in someone’s path, I am honored to have done so.