Today we’d like to introduce you to Chantel Rhodes. Them and their team share their story with us below:
Chantel Rhodes was born and raised in Ft. Myers, FL and was privileged to receive her early educational foundation at Mount Hermon Christian School located in the historic Dunbar community. Chantel spent a large part of her childhood in Ward 3 residing with her late grandmother, Bertha W. Eady who introduced her to the concept of service to others. Chantel went on to attend Lee County Public schools and graduated from North Fort Myers High School in 2006.
In 2010, Chantel earned a BA degree in Criminology at the University of South Florida and a Masters in Social Work at Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in 2017.
The professional experience that Chantel holds includes various roles as a Social Worker with agencies in Florida and Georgia. One of the most rewarding experiences for Chantel was living in Shanghai, China from 2017-2019 where she taught English as a foreign language. Currently, Rhodes is employed with the Lee Health System as a Mental Health Navigator, helping communities and families understand mental illness and options for treatment.
Following the brutal slaying of George Floyd in May of 2020, Chantel and two beloved friends, Lisa Shamma and Napa Peacock formed the Peaceful Protest of Lee County group to bring awareness to police brutality and the racial injustice worldwide. Chantel lead Southwest Florida residents into thirteen consecutive days of peaceful yet powerful demonstrations that educated many and empowered others and challenged everyone to serve in the resistance movement.
Chantel has helped to bring awareness to racial disparities locally and highlighted the ever-present tension that exists between law enforcement and the communities that they serve. As an advocate for Human Rights, Chantel believes that it is the difficult conversations that help to educate, translate, and decrease barriers to individuals loving and understanding one another. Chantel has facilitated conversations with the Ft. Myers Police Department as well As the Lee County Sheriff’s Department to get a better understanding of the challenges that law enforcement officials are faced with daily.
Some of local work by this candidate includes voting initiatives for Southwest Florida residents and being selected as a contributor to the Unity Task Force that was created by the Mayor of the City of Fort Myers. Chantel has served as a Board member for the Lee County LGBTQ and wholeheartedly supports organizations designed to protect LGBTQ individuals, especially LGBTQ youth.
Rhodes is affiliated with various organizations, community initiatives, and local charities.
Chantel Rhodes is an active member of the Theta Nu Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Chantel is proud to be connected to such a supportive and evolving sisterhood that has made ‘Service to all mankind’ its mission since 1908.
Chantel’s passions for service, culture and social justice have led her to travel to 34 countries throughout both North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. She has helped foster the success of children through education in Kenya, Malaysia and in China.
I am running for City Council (Ward 3) because I recognize the need for quality and reliable representation in the city that I call home, the City of Palms, beautiful Fort Myers. Florida.
I played in these streets as a child and now I’m committed to revitalizing those same streets, making them safer and worth taking pride in. As a young adult, I often hear these words from the elders: “you’re the future”, “so many young people need to hear your voice”, “you’re going to make a great leader…one day”.
Well, that day has arrived! Sometimes I pause and reflect on the fact that so many of our parents and grandparents have passed away, I take a moment to cry and then I examine my own life, my role and my purpose.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
One of the challenges that I face in my candidacy for City Council Ward 3 is the lack of enthusiasm and participation among the residents of that Ward.
For example, Ward 3 in Ft. Myers consists of approximately thirteen thousand residents yet in the last midterm election, approximately one thousand of those residents voted.
Trying to energize the disengaged while remaining positive and motivated has been a struggle at times.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a Mental Health Navigator at Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida. I help families and community members at large better understand mental illness and treatment options that are available to them.
I am a certified Mental Health First Aid instructor and I love seeing the lives of others made better through the information that we provide.
We’d love to hear about how you think about risk taking?
I love taking calculated risks and I am often happy to cause the discomfort that will ultimately lead to the flow of progression.
For example: Some of my methods to engage the younger residents of Ward 3 has caused controversy and conversation among older, religious residents.
I came up with the hashtag: #Ward3givesaf as a catchy way of flipping the horrid narrative that ‘we’ as people of color/ Black people don’t care about our communities.
The hashtag #Ward3givesaf has generated necessary conversations about how the elders engage with the youth and most importantly, it has sparked conversations about why people of color, especially the youth in this community avoid community affairs and local politics.
My approach to engage nonactive voters doesn’t sit well with many in my community because they consider it to be ‘unprofessional’ and ‘vulgar’.
I’m motivated by the smiles that I see on the youth as I talk to them about real issues using language that they can relate to and are interested in.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: www.chantelrhodes.com
- Instagram: alchemist239
- Facebook: Chantel L. Rhodes
Photos by Chantel Rhodes