Your Guide to LGBT Jacksonville, Florida  

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LGBT / JAX is a regional community information hub and directory of local LGBT and LGBT Welcoming professionals, businesses and organizations from Ocala, Florida through Jacksonville to Southeast Georgia. You can also follow us on our social media streams:

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Noreen Smith,

Children"s Fishing Tournaments have always been a big part of Noreen Smith's life since she was a youngster. "I would always beg my parents to take me fishing".

For the past 16 years, Smith has organized fishing outings for numerous children and provided her fishing expertise for kid's during the annual children's fishing tournaments in Washington State. “Salmon and steelhead fishing in the rivers of Washington provides my favorite type of fishing. There's nothing like pulling in a 30 pound King salmon or 15 pound steelhead on lightweight tackle in a fast moving river. It's actually thrilling once you become an expert on the art of drift fishing a creek or river. It took me some time to get a feel for the rod and gear in the water, hitting the bottom, tapping on rocks and other objects then, the slight difference when a fish strikes the's tricky hooking the fish and being able to control the retrieval of these fighting monsters.”

Smith went onto say “I moved to Florida because its known as The Fishing Capitol of the World....I am very serious about fishing and this move was one of the best decisions I've made in my life. I love to turn people on to fishing in many different varieties of fish to catch here - Redfish, Shark, Whiting, Cobia, Kingfish, Sheepshead -the list goes on and on.”

Since moving to Florida Smith has become an expert in fishing the local waters. She started iFiSHJAX as a way to share this passion with kids and adults who are new to sport fishing.

Smith guarantees her customers will catch fish. Her company’s tagline sums it up... “Worry free fishing, even if you don’t know how to fish.”

Smith provides Guided Fishing services for Children, Adults and Groups.

“Kids Fishing Outings are a great way to introduce the kids ages 4 and up to ocean fishing in a fun but low-key environment. Kids Outings are two hours in duration and take place at the Jacksonville Beach pier. I provide everything needed for fishing as well as kid friendly fishing instruction and fish identification lessons. The kids also get a digital photo of themselves with their "catch of the day". We fish off the Jacksonville Beach Pier which is centrally located to all the beach hotels and resorts.”

For adults Smith offers both pier fishing and surf fishing outings and lessons.

Surf fishing takes place on our beautiful NE Florida beaches.

"All you need to bring is your hat and sunscreen. iFishjax provides water, fishing gear, bait, tackle, sand spikes, beach chairs, ice, ice cooler and filleting of fish if you choose to keep your catch.

Surf fishing is really heating up right now so this is a great time to book an outing. We also have gift certificates available on our website at
Call me! I would love to take you fishing!

Noreen Smith
can be reached at:
(904) 444-5799
or by email at:


Sarah Shields,
Mortgage Banker

Sarah Shields, Mortgage Loan Officer at PNC Mortgage, loves her job.

"Nothing is more satisfying than helping someone attain the dream of home ownership or improve the terms on their current mortgage to help them reach their financial goals. My goal is to provide each customer with outstanding service and help them get a mortgage faster, easier and more professionally than they ever expected." , she says.

She certainly has the bonafides for the job. Sarah's mother, Jan Shields of Watson Realty, is a legend in Jacksonville real estate and her father, Dave Shields, was a custom home builder at the Beaches when Sarah was growing up.

"Homes and market conditions were normal dinner conservation topics when I was a kid. Most of my friends lived in homes that either my mother sold to the family or my father’s company built. I guess it's not surprising that I ended up in the industry." she says with a smile.

Sarah graduated from University of North Florida with a Bachelors Degree  in Psychology.

After graduation in 1997, she relocated to Seattle, Washington. 

She began her career there as an Account Executive for a Receivables Management firm in Seattle and found that she enjoyed building relationships with her clients - a skill that quickly resulted in success.

Sarah spent 10 years in the industry, eventually rising to the level of Vice President of National Sales & Business Development for a large Receivables Management corporation.  She spent several years travelling around the country putting together receivables management solutions for some of the largest companies in America.

We asked her why she would leave that industry when she had such a great track record?

"After my daughter was born I wanted to find a job that didn’t require constant travel. I realized that my skills and experience were transferable to a banking career. My mom suggested I look into a mortgage origination position. In 2009, I was hired as a Home Mortgage Consultant with Wells Fargo. Within very little time I realized I had found my niche. I haven’t looked back since. I really enjoy what I do for a living."

Sarah has consistently ranked as top producer since joining the mortgage industry. In 2010 she produced an impressive $56 Million in funded loans,

in 2012 she was ranked number four of all loan officers in the State of Florida. She attributes her success to outstanding customer service.
"Every customer is important to me. It doesn't matter how big or small the deal is. I always remember that this is someone’s home loan. There are very few transactions in life that are as significant as a mortgage.”

Sarah Shields
can be reached at:
(904) 477-5158
or by email at sarah.shields@pncmortgage  .com


Tonnicka Gerken, Nonpareil904

Tonnicka Gerken credits growing up as Navy kid with expanding her world view at an early age. “I was exposed to different cultures and lifestyles from childhood and I know this really shaped how I think about not just people but all the issues that affect them.”

She says her parents also played a huge role. “My father was always gentle and stressed how important it was to act with compassion - especially with the outcast or downtrodden. My mother made it clear that we were each unique and should embrace our uniqueness and live our lives boldly and fearlessly.  Growing up with these kinds of role models definitely influenced my own choices.”

Tonnicka jumped into medical billing first but quickly saw the disparity in actual costs and billed costs. That and the insurance industry standards for reimbursement, as well as their red tape requirements, soon led her to leap back out. She thought the pharmaceutical side might be a better fit for her.and a way to have a positive impact on people lives on a daily basis. Shaking her head Gerken says, “Boy was I wrong there. Watching people having to choose their prescriptions over groceries because of cost and still have the same issues they came with. I couldn’t have been more wrong.”

It was the birth of her son Tylee that finally led her to true career fulfillment. “As a new mother I was given the opportunity to learn infant massage and found my love, passion and true calling. Touch relieving pain prescriptions... everyone is always happy to know you're coming. There is no better feeling in the world. The happiness of each person I've encountered gives me such an inner peace and joy. To know that, at that moment, I helped someone feel good is indescribable.”

Tonnicka is also a strong ally to the LGBT community. She has been a vocal supporter of equality for all in every area.

“In my own life's journey I have always been adamant about the importance of recognizing, voicing and supporting diversity in both my private and professional life. The LGBT community have always been my friends, family, mentors and allies. To talk with them and see first hand the lack of equality, the families that have been together longer than required for a common law marriage, to watch their partners fight in wars,  to see them get no respect - no rights, no spousal benefits. ...or any other benefit a straight couple would be entitled to is heartbreaking, and makes me angry. Being unable to act on their spouse's behalf without Power of Attorney in an emergency, yet an estranged parent or the state can? That  seems prehistoric and immoral to me.  I will always be the loudest I can and the most supportive I can until everyone within the LGBT community gets what we all deserve - equal rights and responsibilities under the protection of the laws of our country.”

Tonnicka Gerken
can be reached at:
(904) 222-4165
or by email at:
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