Candy Dawson talks to one of Noah’s Ark’s veteran residents. Aaron is a delightful young man as you will see in this free-flowing interview. He is one of the few “Nesters” who decided to stay in the place they’ve called home for several years–Noah’s Nest.
Q: Tell me a little about yourself
I’m 43 and just about to be 44. I grew up in Aurora, Ohio. In 2007 I moved to Los Lunas, N.M. and lived with my aunt Joanne for about 5 years. I really enjoyed living there and did Special Olympics–Track and Bowling and Swimming.
Here I’ve been doing golf for 4-5 years at YMCA Par 3 First Tee. In the county and area games I came in Second Place.
Last year I got a gold medal for golf during my birthday weekend. This is my medal and golf hat.
In New Mexico i worked for about four years as a volunteer firefighter. and was pretty much the Chief’s partner. He was a former Marine. I helped out around the station and helped water the plants and was there pretty much every day. I’d come in at 9 and do that shift til 6:00 and would go back sometimes on the B shift. I liked it so much I’d go back and work until 1 a.m. sometimes. I would go on medical calls and fire calls.
Q: How did you get into being a volunteer firefighter?
In Ohio when I was about 21 years old I looked in the local newspaper and saw an add for the Aurora disaster team associated with the Police Dept. Auxiliary. I helped direct traffic and during special events for about 7 years. I’ve tried to get into the Lakeland Fire Department and it’s been hard. I have tried to get into Polk Co. Fire Dept. and it’s too far to drive to.
Q: Was it hard to leave Los Lunas and the work you did with the Fire Department?
It was hard to decide to leave because it was like dream to me. I got promoted up to Sgt. rank for volunteers and was learning so much about training. My aunt had seen something about Noah’s Ark on the internet and she asked me if I’d like to live closer to my parents who live part of the year in Punta Gorda. I thought about it for about a week and then moved here. We still have a house in Ohio so my parents are snowbirds.
Q: How long have you lived at the Nest? What do you like most about it?
I’ve lived at The Nest since 2012. I like that it’s so close to the city. I like to do First Fridays and go most of time when I’m not working. Some of us go to the Fourth of July event and can walk to that and to the Christmas Parade. I go to the Library and pick out videos. I like walking to Palace Pizza and Jimmy Johns and sometimes me and my other roommates go together and sometimes my parents. I like Black and Brew and I’m a coffee drinker. I use the George Foreman grill and cook hamburgers and bratwurst and pork chops or steak. I eat frozen vegetables and the other roommates cook some too. I really like the frozen Boston Market meals.
Q: You mentioned your work. What do you do?
I have been working at Ruby Tuesday for about five years. I help bussing tables and as the server attendant where I fill up ice bins and bring out food, etc. I really enjoy it and it helps out. I maybe get 3 days or 4 days a week from 5:45-9:00 or 9:30. I drive myself there. I like talking to the customers to see how they’re doing and some I know regularly will talk to me and they usually give me good comments, “You’re always on the go and work your heart out here.” The waiters and waitresses really appreciate me and it and feels good when customers say nice things about you.
Q: What kinds of things do you do with your roommates and other residents at Noah’s Nest?
The veterans at Noah’s Nest are me, Charles and Bianca. I like to go fishing near Cocoa Beach with my roommate Brian and he drove us to that. We go to Lakeland Square Mall and walk around there and sometimes go to Cinemark to see movies. We like action movies like Deadpool, Skyscraper. We like sports like watching wrestling and visit each others’ houses and watch a little football. My team is the Cleveland Indians.
Q: What new things have you done in the past couple of years?
I got into Out of the Box bc Mickie and Gary talked to me about it knew that I’d be pretty good at it so I said, alright, I’ll give it a try. (Director) Miss Mo is our neighbor the next street over. I have been doing it for about two years and really like it. It gives us a chance to be actors or singers. The best role I had was in Bully vs. Buddy and I was Victor the Squirrel. I like the costumes and being on the stage and seeing the audience and talking to people on the stage and trying to think of something to say and make the audience laugh. It’s just such a great experience and we are so lucky to have the Lakeland Community Theater. It’s exciting to live downtown and it’s only a five minute drive and sometimes I even walk to the theater. A couple of other people at the Nest do it, too. Sometimes I drop by Miss Mo’s and visit with her. She has such a great staff that helps get the plays going. It seems like every year the stage crew and the actors just get so big and we have to split groups up.
I met Tim Tebow and Jeff Foxworthy in Feb. 2018. Me and Cody went to a private event at Southeastern University and had dinner with him and I was kind of speechless when I saw Tim Tebow.
I thanked him for Night to Shine and he’s an amazing person and just wants to try to help people out. He’s a very down to earth guy.
Q: I heard that you like to travel. Where do you like to go?
I like to fly a lot. I went to Phoenix and NC in one month. The most exciting local trip was Universal Studios with Phil with Adam. 2017 was a really great year spending time with family. Living on your own and not seeing your family that much, it feels like you’re in the armed forces and especially when you go back to your hometown and you just want to see your old friends. It has a different feeling. My sister and brother-in-law came down earlier this year to visit with my little nephew Victor. That makes you feel good getting together and spending time with them. I like texting with my family or calling to check in.
I just flew out to see my younger brother in NC and spent almost 2 weeks with him and his girlfriend. I have one brother and one sister who lives in Phoenix with her husband and one nephew about four. He likes Legos and we play that together and swim and play matchbox cars. I’m a good uncle.
Q: Are there some activities you used to have at The Nest that stopped when Noah’s Landing opened?
We used to have movie night and crafts and some of the parents tried to get it going again but it didn’t get going. We’d like movie nights or crafts night maybe in one of the houses. Lots of the residents are very creative and did some painting with Julie and Diane Mills. We used to do Money Class and some still want to do it. I go to the Landing for holidays and for cookouts like July 4th. Not too many people here work. People who want to go out to eat have parents pick them. Lots more parents used to come before Noah’s Landing (opened) and check on us and take us to places during the week and maybe go out to lunch but now most of the parents do things with the Landing (residents).
Q: Are there activities you’d like to have at The Nest?
We used to do things on holidays we would have parties and get together to cook out at the Nest and I’ve missed out on that since the Landing. I’d like to have a reunion down here to have a cookout. Play music outside. We’re like a Big Family and I think it would be nice to get reunited and have more activities down here so it could stay more like a family.
Candy: Aaron, as usual, I really enjoyed talking to you.
Aaron: Oh, thanks, Candy. I enjoyed talking to you, too.