Tell readers a bit about yourself.
I am a mother of 3 awesome sons, Joey, Jake and Trent and wife to the love of my life, Tom. We are empty nesters now, but I still run and operate Kerry Cooke Real Estate and Design in Palm Coast and continue to be a top producing agent for my company Florida Homes Realty and Mortgage.
My love for helping people brought me into real estate over 20 years ago and now, along with my husband we build and sell spec homes and currently we are building a commercial storage facility project on US-1 we hope to open in October of 2022.
I have always been an entrepreneur since my early 20’s and I have always wanted to be a philanthropist I feel giving back is where the real reward and success as a human being lies.
I also am an avid tennis player and play on many USTA leagues competitively and local leagues for fun. I have been an athlete since I was 4 years old and I love to stay active and enjoy the outdoors. I was raised by two amazing parents and my father was a coach so over the years I have found that coaching sports, and mentoring has been some of my strongest qualities in life and business. I am the captain of many tennis teams around the county and I have always enjoyed organizing events and team sports. Recently I was inducted into the Hall of Fame at my High School after 35 years. It was truly an honor. I am currently in a stage of life that I feel that I can honestly say I feel accomplished and whole.
How did you come to organize One Love?
Like with anything else I have set my mind to, you first have to have a vision and plan. My vision for over a decade was to have a tournament to help people in need. I am a BIG idea person, but I know from experience to execute a plan you need a great team. You are only as good as those you have working with you.
The first year we set out on the mission as a group of friends that shared our love for tennis. We would travel to other locations to do tennis tournaments and thought, we have such a beautiful resort here in Palm Coast that we too could host a tournament and bring people in to help a cause that meant so much personally to me.
I have been supporting The Family Life Center to help support women and children in crisis for over a decade now, so it seemed fit to host the tournament with women helping other women. We knew tennis women would come from all over the United States to help and stay to play tennis here so it was the perfect fit. We proceeded to meet with the department heads at the Hammock Beach Resort and along with my posse of friends, and tennis director who I have now known for around 15 years, One Love was formed in 2019. It was definitely a labor of love for us and we were able to really get a hands-on look with how many women needed our help. So, it wasn’t really a challenge…. It was always just the right thing to do. I feel that part of our purpose in life is to give back, so I try my hardest to provide people with that love they may need. During Christmas time we also give back by surprising someone who really needs it as well. It is something I feel that is necessary. I myself was not always as fortunate as I am today so to be able to give back is like paying it forward to those who helped me when I needed support.
This year featured a fashion show and ball, how did that go, and did you feature and designers and boutiques?
Each year we open the Tournament with a reception the night before and each year we make it different, so the players have something fun to look forward to.
This year we approached Teresa from la De Da Boutique to see if she wanted to host a fashion show for the ladies. Since it is the first evening, it gives the ladies something to do while they are here and the hopes that they would shop in European Village at their store which was the objective.
We try to include someone who could benefit from the reception with 150 ladies in town. They also are asked to donate and item to the cause and auction.
Natti G Boutique also was included in the fashion show and she immediately chipped in as a sponsor to support the cause with a large donation. She also donated her clothing in the auction. Her designs can be found at Nattig funhouse on Instagram where she can design custom made clothing. The fashion show was a great opening to the event featuring this custom designer and the boutique to give women that come from all over the US the opportunity to buy local.
Why is supporting the family Life center important to you?
As I mentioned, my life along with many other women I know hasn’t been perfect.
We suffer through relationships as women, we work hard, we raise children and many times we are really hiding the fact that we are in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship, or we are challenged and trapped in abusive relationships. We cannot get out because we have been threatened, causing emotional abuse. Mine was not physical but I know many women personally that have suffered relationships in this way.
I had married young and had 4 stepchildren and two of my own so leaving was never an option. When I finally made the choice to with my children’s blessing it was difficult. The gaslighting, the financial devastation of completely leaving me with nothing to start over again on my own and get children through life with no support was difficult.
I emerged from it and luckily, I had supportive family and friends, but it was devastating to start building my life over again after all I felt I had given. I did whatever I had to become successful and independent on my own. I also had a victim advocate that told me about the Family Life Center, but I didn’t need that kind of support at the time. Instead my children and I would donate clothing, their allowances and some of my income even to help others going through the same battle. It was hard but it had purpose for me to work harder for a cause that was meaningful. Flash forward, I have continued on this mission and life has been plentiful. I am blessed with now a wonderful man that completes me, and children that are successful, finished college and are on their own in Nashville, TN. With my love for tennis, my flexible schedule and no children at home anymore, bringing One Love to the community made sense as it continued the legacy of donating to this charity that was always so close to me personally.
What are your hopes and goals for One Love in the future?
My hopes for One Love are to get more volunteers to commit.
As with any fundraiser it does becomes a job that no one is prepared for. It is constant daily work; however, we have a lot of the legwork done now with items we have acquired, the website and all of the marketing channels which are done and challenges we faced already covered.
It definitely takes a village and our hopes it that the community also understand the cause, it’s not just about tennis. Tennis is just the sport that brings women together to help other women, but many of the community members come to support the cause and the Tennis Ball auction. It took a really long time prior to One Love to acquire a database of players so we now have that which is awesome, and it has spread like wildfire to women from everywhere so that’s the amazing part.
My goal is now to help as many shelters as we can. One Love started here in Flagler as this is where myself and my partner Julie Silva were from. Julie and I met over 20 years ago in Flagler County when our kids were little and we went through similar situations together with our first marriages. Since COVID hit we have opened our own nonprofit called Women with Wings that provides women with the resources to get assistance and we supply financial help. We also provide awareness and our goal is to speak at events to help families who are suffering. The families sometimes are just as much victims as the women are, so they need support as well. Julie lives in New York and now and I live here in Flagler County, so we want to provide aid in the states we live in with various fundraisers and events throughout the year. One Love is our baby though and it will always be the most special purpose for us as Julie and I have been able to rise from the ashes together at a time in our lives that the fire literally was burning us.
Our logo is the butterfly, many women are scared caterpillars fighting for the chance to become beautiful butterflies. We have truly spread our wings together and have had each other’ backs and hearts in very difficult and emotional times. We feel there should be no shame in domestic violence. It wasn’t a choice we had, it just happened, and a lot of women do not have someone to talk to. We are the lucky ones to have each other so we decided instead of keeping quiet, we could help so many people if we were brave enough to talk about our stories. With that said we will always be One Love Proud and Strong. Our goals are endless, and our voices are becoming many.
If anyone would like to reach out to us, please email us at email@example.com. If you know anyone in Flagler County suffering from domestic violence please call the 24 hotline at 386-437-4938.