BY OLIVIA CAMERON – From a Catholic upbringing to administrative assistant at a Methodist church, Hermila Perreault has found a job in Boca Grande that, in her own words, is “very rewarding, because it revolves around helping others.”
“Growing up in Colombia as the youngest of seven children, I was the little girl of the family who was always overprotected and spoiled,” she said.
Once she was born, Hermila claimed her parents had experience under their belt and raised her with ease.
“I learned from my siblings’ mistakes, which is one of the greatest advantages of being the youngest,” she said.
Hermila was endowed with the teachings of her family, which contributed to the woman she is today.
While living in Colombia, Hermila worked as a secretary for a natural gas power plant.
“It was a huge project then,” she said.
The country relied on hydroelectric power just before a drought took away electricity in the early 90s.
“They built natural gas power plants to replace their way of harvesting electricity. Electricity had to be rationed at the time.”
While working at the plant, she met her husband, Ron, originally from Maine, who worked for the business until retiring. They married in Colombia and took their newfound love overseas. Hermila and Ron moved to Rangeley, Maine, just below the Canadian border. Every two years, Hermila would travel home to visit her father, until he passed away.
“I miss Colombia from time to time and my relatives who are raising families of their own now. But the U.S. has offered me countless opportunities,” she said.
Hermila has worked as an administrative assistant for 25 years. Before working in Boca Grande, she was an ad- ministrative assistant for a health insurance agency until she realized her budding merit.
“While working as an assistant, I was also partially doing the job of an agent, which gave me an advantage,” she said.
The agency owner encouraged her to obtain an agent’s license, as he said she would be of value as a bilingual agent.
“When I excelled, he stopped letting me work to my full potential. That’s when I switched agencies.”
Hermila took her experience to an agency in Sarasota, where she became a part-time health and life insurance agent in March. Hermila and Ron relocated to Port Charlotte while keeping their house in Maine.
Around the time she landed her agency position in Sarasota, Hermila kept her eyes open for another job that would complement her income. That’s when she saw an opening at the Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande, which she credited for finding the listing.
“In South America, our religion was predominantly Catholic. Once I relocated to Maine, my connection to my background shifted,” she said.
She has found her upbringing reminds her of her love for Colombia and the way she was raised. While working at the Lighthouse Church, Hermila has dipped into a melting pot of paradigms that combine her past and the woman she is today, which she believes has given her an open mind.
“Once I was hired, I felt blessed to be part of a wonderful group,” she said. “I enjoy working at the Lighthouse Church and within the Boca Grande community. My husband and I even used to take day trips to the island to enjoy its simplicity before I started here.”
Her position at the Lighthouse Church has compelled her to find happiness in the little things and be thankful for the unexpected.
Hermila has found herself lucky to find two positions at the beginning of a recession.
“What a blessing to have found a job, let alone two, when millions of people were losing theirs,” she said.
Her expertise in customer service has provided her with the patience to balance two engaging positions.
“Interacting with people is my cup of tea,” she said.
Above all the perks, Hermila’s part-time position in Boca Grande feels like an island getaway. For her, crossing the bridge on her commute makes the drive worthwhile.
Twenty-one years of marriage later, Hermila and Ron balance compromise with love.
“If we are aware of how we react to different challenges in life, we are more likely to react in a way that will work best for both of us, instead of letting our minds go on overdrive, so to speak. We, our true selves, take the driver’s seat to find a common ground.”
She contributes the success of her partnership to a solid foundation built on balance. Hermila has found virtue in her marriage through practicing patience.
“The Power of Intention’ by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer is a book that has been an eye opener for me,” she said. “It’s one of my favorite books to listen to during my commute to work.”
In their free time, the two enjoy hit- ting the beach and look forward to the Sand Sculpting Championship at Fort Myers Beach each fall. When she is able to visit her relatives in Colombia, she feels like time passes her by.
“Now I am seeing my family grow and new generations being born!” she said.
She is excited to see her nieces and nephews build their own families. Hermila is hopeful for the new generation of children.
On her frequent commutes to Sarasota, Hermila also reflects on how fragile life can be. When the interstate
traffic is halted, she feels uneasy knowing someone could be hurt just up the road.
In her eyes, each day is a gift.