June’s Nona Hero is Teresa “Terri” Turner, a woman whom I have had the honor of knowing in a professional capacity for a few years. Terri Turner is a selfless and kind woman with an extensive career in the U.S. Army and the federal government to toughen her up. She is smart, sharp as a tack, and more gracious than most.
Turner is a seasoned veteran of the army since enlisting at only 17 years old. Immediately following the conclusion of her service, Turner launched her career in the same field where she currently works, the Department of Veteran Affairs, nearly 40 years later. She is the manager of the Orlando Fisher House: At the Orlando VA Medical Center, the Fisher House provides lodging to the loved ones of hospitalized veterans.
“I have basically spent my entire life either serving in the military or serving those that were in the military,” she said. “My passions are anything and everything related to our active-duty military and veterans’ causes; teaching love and respect to our youth for the great nation we live in; and advocating for the underprivileged and elderly.”
In addition to her full-time job making a home for vet families, Turner spends an incredible amount of time volunteering at the Lake Nona Regional Chamber of Commerce as the secretary of the board of directors. She also volunteers for the Rotary Club of Lake Nona, City Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council, and the County Mayor’s Veterans Advisory Council. Prior to the pandemic, she could be seen at the Ronald McDonald House as well. Hers is a face you will see frequently at Lake Nona events and efforts.
The Turner family – including Terri, her husband, Sean, and adult sons Nicholas and Zachary – hails from North Carolina, having relocated to Lake Nona in 2016. Sean and Terri both work for the VA and transferred from another VA hospital in North Carolina to the facility here in Orlando. Terri is originally from Lee and sports her native Floridian pride well!
Terri Turner’s work and other experiences with the military instilled a passion for “serving those who served,” as she puts it.
“I came from a very small town (300 people), and I distinctly remember telling my parents when I joined the military that I would never come back and live in that small town – and I never did,” Turner said. “I had no idea that, following my military service, I would work for the federal government my entire adult life, but I couldn’t be more proud of serving those who served!”
She graduated from Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s “Mayor’s City Academy” and has earned accolades throughout her years of service – which are extremely well-deserved. Personally, I have never met someone as eager to serve and so dedicated in their selflessness as she is. Turner is dependable, honest, hilarious, hard-working, and tough as nails.
The Turners are proud Gator fans after their time living in Gainesville. Now empty-nesters, Turner shared what her day-to-day looks like: “It’s amazing! After working all day at a job I love, I typically come home, take a long walk, do household chores, listen to music, and then cook dinner.”
A successful career in service has left Turner with something absolutely wonderful on the horizon: retirement. When the time comes, she plans to pursue her love of cooking through culinary classes, continue volunteering, and take golf lessons. Hopefully, a retirement home on the beach and grandkids will come along on the way.
Turner’s advice to her younger self would be as such: “Slow down and smell the roses and remember that you don’t have to be perfect – you just have to be brave!”
I’ll go ahead and add a “Go Gators!” to that.
Photos Courtesy of Teresa Turner