I was born in 1970 in Providence, Rhode Island to Larry and the late Gloria Gemma and I am the youngest of nine children.
My dad founded Gem Plumbing & Heating in 1949. He worked tirelessly as a master plumber, while my mom managed the family business and raised her children. We didn’t have much growing up. We lived in a three story tenement home on the north end of Providence. Our home, for the most part, was filled with love, laughter and joy…but it wasn’t always that way. I remember many times when my parents struggled to put food on the table. I remember many a night when my dad was so exhausted from working all day that he could barely stay awake long enough to eat dinner. My mom, equally exhausted from the day to day challenges of raising nine kids and managing the family business, spent what little time she had left at the end of the day to make sure we had what we needed. I remember that space was always a challenge. I shared a bedroom with four of my brothers and my four sisters shared the other. My mom spent her days cooking, cleaning, and teaching us the values we continue to live by today.
I began to learn the plumbing trade at the young age of ten. With my father by my side as my teacher and mentor, I learned early on that hard work, dedication and desire breeds success. I helped my dad every day after school and on weekends and continued to do so throughout high school. I went off to college in Boston after my graduation and continued to work full time so that I could put myself through school. I graduated from Suffolk University in 1992 and went on to Roger Williams Law School. After my graduation, I returned to my family’s plumbing business and was appointed to Vice President & Legal Council. In 2001, I was named President & CEO, where I remained until 2008.
Shortly after my appointment to President of our family business, my mom became ill with breast cancer. I remember the devastation so vividly that it was as if it had happened yesterday. At the beginning, fear and anxiety swept over me. How could this happen to a mother of nine children? How could this happen to someone who worked so hard and cared and loved people so much? In 2002, she lost her battle to breast cancer. Our family was broken and our hearts followed.
Feeling so angry and betrayed over the loss of our mom, my family and I made the decision that we needed to do something to help other families that were suffering the same pain. In 2004, I co-founded the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation and currently serve as the Foundations’ President. The Foundation’s goals are to raise breast cancer awareness, increase breast health education, and to generate funding for critical breast health programs that may have helped my mom beat this disease.
Today, the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation has helped thousands of women and men who suffer from breast cancer. Our grass roots programs are offered free to breast cancer patients and their families and the staff and volunteers work tirelessly everyday to make a difference in the lives of those are affected by this disease.
In 2008, after years of mentoring local Rhode Island businesses on how to market their companies, I established Mediapeel, a full service marketing firm created to help organizations promote, market and advertise their products and services effectively and affordably. Mediapeel employs 21 team members who work diligently to craft and create successful marketing programs for local businesses.
Throughout the years, my family and I have spent countless hours of our time helping local non-profit charities including St. Mary’s Home for Children, The Rhode Island Special Olympics, The Autism Project of Rhode Island, The RlSPCA, The Rhode Island Veterans Administration, Boy Scouts of Rhode Island and many others in their efforts to make a difference. We have volunteered our time, donated our services and helped to secure funding for these organizations through fundraising events. Our community relations efforts continue today and we remain partners in the betterment for the greater good.
I have always been patriotic and love this great nation we call home. I remember September 11, 2001 like it was yesterday and felt, as most American’s did, torn and shattered. I had recently graduated from college and remembered thinking…what does this mean for my generation and our future? To my amazement, with all of America then fearful and betrayed, this great country fought back with vengeance and determination to make our land a better place.
I am equally passionate of about our great State. I have lived and worked here all of my life and plan on staying right here in Little Rhody.
I am not a politician by nature or career. I work here, live here and raise my family here. I own a business here, pay taxes here and struggle like many of you do and as a resident, business owner, philanthropist, humanitarian and parent, I share the same concerns that you have. I have felt the same anxiety, stress and anger that many of you have felt over the years. I believe, all the way to my soul, that Rhode Island can be a better place to live, work and raise a family. In this country, we have a choice…we have full control of our future, we can own our decisions and we possess a powerful asset we know as freedom of speech. We can voice our opinions, rally on behalf of what we believe in and most importantly, we have the power to vote.
My decision to seek public office in the First Congressional District was made for one reason…to help Rhode Island get back on its feet and to re-invent and re-invigorate public service for the 21st Century. My intentions are clear…I will, first and foremost, listen intently to your concerns, work tirelessly to put our government back in focus, and most importantly, return to you, the most important customer of Rhode Island, the power and control you so deserve. Each of us as residents of Rhode Island, deserve the right to a better State, a cleaner and safer place to live, and an honest and fair government that collaboratively works together toward a common goal..to make Rhode Island the BEST place on earth.
I have every confidence that each of you, as residents of Rhode Island, have the knowledge, tenacity and enthusiasm to put Rhode Island back to work, to clean up our neighborhoods and to develop a government that puts YOU first.
I will never claim to have all of the answers…but I give you my solemn promise that I will work with great effort and determination to render the solutions to the problems that plague our homeland. I cannot do this alone. I need your help and support. I need your voice, your energy and your confidence…but most of all, I need your vote.