It is difficult to imagine what life may be like for military wives and mothers left behind to tackle family challenges. There are daily tasks of maintaining a home, keeping children involved in studies, and after-school activities — not to mention keeping a positive vision about what the future will hold once he returns home.
Yet Kelly Salmons, a local mother of two young daughters, does just that, and more — all with a smile. She is a military wife with a balanced leadership style that has a supportive impact not just on her own family, but on her local community.
Salmons graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where she met her future husband, David. The two fell in love, and quickly learned to communicate from afar by mailing adoring letters and cards, before Internet and Skype arrived to the scene. The two are just shy of celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary, and reside in Naples.
“The first year and a half of our marriage, we didn’t live in the same state, so we would write to each other about the silly things,” Salmons recalls from Veterans Memorial Elementary School, where she often volunteers.
“I didn’t expect to be a Navy wife again, but surprise,” she says of her husband’s deployment back to active duty for the Naval Reserves as an officer.
“Hyperscheduling,” Salmons admits, is the reason their two girls Megan, 9, and Kasey, 8, are staying on track with school and extracurricular activities, too. “We have something scheduled every day of the week,” she adds, as Salmons spearheaded many organized competitions of Odyssey of the Mind at Veterans Memorial — traveling all the way to the University of Central Florida for the state competition with her team of students and parents from Veterans Memorial.
Salmons also volunteered to design and sew hundreds of dance outfits for Backstage Dance Academy for dancers there for the annual dance recital, and is in the midst of introducing a visionary leadership program for Veterans Memorial, which will be introduced this fall.
“We had a visioning day with staff and parents, and we also traveled to Port Charlotte to visit Neil Armstrong Elementary School, where they are implementing the program there with great success,” Salmons explained. “It’s based on the Seven Habits of Happy Kids, and it is called the ‘Leader in Me Covey Program.’”
Empowerment and leadership skills are something Salmons believes is within every child, and she aims to bring out the best in her daughters, along with their fellow classmates at Veterans Memorial.
“They learn everything from how to communicate and look someone in the eye. Seek first to understand, before being understood, and how you are able to help each other. They do amazing things in this program.”
Following her work as a school and community volunteer, Salmons sometimes checks into the Health Club of Naples to be involved with her family’s business, and visit with her younger sister Kathy Hoeft, who is a physical therapist for the club.
“She’s being a mom and a dad, and she manages to find time to come in and help here at the Health Club Of Naples a little bit, too,” Kathy Hoeft said, while taking a break from a therapy session at the Hoeft family business, which opened its doors six years ago. “She kicking tail right now, and every week we have dinner together. My mom makes sure we get together for our daddy’s burgers.”
Kicking tail back at Veterans Memorial, Salmons incorporates her knowledge of science and biology into her volunteer activities of the school library at Veterans Memorial.
“She committed thousands of hours of volunteer work here to help us get our level 2 readers organized, along with volunteer Joyce Boudreau,” said Marge Cox, media specialist for Veterans Memorial.
“Another thing Kelly has done for us, is set up our STEM (Science, Technology and Math) lab with different experiments and she prepared many slides for microscopes. We didn’t have the manpower to do it, and she helps me do what I do. She’s our pebble in the pond and her effect continues to ripple out to our 900 kids and 60 teachers here. We are fortunate and grateful to her and volunteers like Kelly Salmons,” said Cox.