Updated: Nov 18, 2019
Today, our very own stylist and manager Rita Bradley was recognized as "Hometown Hero" by Frederick County Office of Economic Development for Business Appreciation Week! She was offered the opportunity to share her story with the ambassadors of Frederick County Office of Economic Development, Main Street Middletown & Frederick County Councilman, Jerry Donald (also a history teacher at MHS) about how this came to be.
It is unlike Rita let down her guard but when asked (not word for word), "How did this come to be?", she was instantly flooded by emotions which took her. She shared one of the most challenging moments in her life while holding back the tears. Her story was clearly difficult to talk about.
In May of 2009, she and her family were displaced by a fire. Their home was uninhabitable. Additionally, she was unable to continue her work as she worked from home. Her husband, Jack who was active duty in the United States Coast Guard was transferred to a 3-year sea patrol on the US Vigorous Cutter out of Seattle, WA at the same time. Family, friends and the community of Middletown helped her family in more ways than one until their home was rebuilt. The owner of the former Carousel of Beauty, Norma Gray opened her doors so she could have a place to work and take care of her clients. Rita will always be grateful for the kindness and support she and her family received.
This made a difference in her life. Rita made it her commitment to pay if forward and help others as she was able. She volunteered her spare time to managing fundraising efforts for a family friend and Middletown High School senior, TJ Rufty who battled Burkitt's Lymphoma. His FB page is called, Hope for TJ Rufty. With the help of family, friends, community volunteers, local businesses and other supporters, this organization raised over $30,000 with the help of Patty Pollatos Fund Organization to defray medical cost and living expenses. TJ is a paraplegic due to the aggressive cancer treatment but thankfully, he is in remission and living the best life he can.
The decision didn't come easily when Rita thought it was time to retire from her cosmetology career and strictly focus on real estate. Roughly 3 - 4 years go by and all the while she was being reminded by her daughter, Alana, her mother, her sisters, and former clients how much she was missed. One night, Rita received a phone call - Alana had a brilliant idea - "Let's open a hair salon together!" Alana was persuasive and encouraging but let's be honest - it isn't hard to persuade Rita into doing something that involves her family. The decision came naturally. That is when Serenity Studios LLC emerged. Fittingly, Serenity Studio opened it's doors in the former Carousel of Beauty Hair Salon - the most iconic Middletown Valley Hair Salon for the past 20 years.
Rita continues to serve her clients as a REALTOR with the Max Group of Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.
Rita & Serenity Studio was recognized for its impact on our community. When asked by the ambassadors who her "Hometown Hero" is, Rita replied, "Without a doubt, the entire community of Middletown and my daughter, Alana Zuzulock." Alana was also awarded a "Hometown Hero" medal given to her by her mother, Rita.
None of this would have been possible without you - you are the real heroes! Thank you for all of the love and support you give us!