Friday, February 26, 2016

Life According to Joe

Viper Custodian Delivers a Clean Attitude along with a Clean Atmosphere

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School custodian Joe Armet approaches cleaning the same as he approaches living: with purpose, enthusiasm, and a signature smile.

"I like working with the teachers and making sure they are satisfied," said Joe, who is charged with keeping 14 rooms in the 600 building clean and comfortable for teachers and students. "My goal is to try to keep the rooms clean. The desks, the floors, the blackboards. I also pay attention to shelves and anything else that needs cleaning."

A Brevard resident for over 45 years, Joe moved from New York to Florida when he was 18 years old. "That was 1971," he said. "Port St. John was nothing but clear land. The streets were paved but that was pretty much it. The rest of it was just trees and land. No houses. No buildings. Nobody lived around here."

Now the area is thriving with families, businesses, schools, and churches among a hardworking, tight-knit community. Joe's contribution to the area is something that comes natural to him. "Pretty much all of my life, I've been cleaning," he said. "I worked for a cleaning business for 18 years. I also worked for Publix for nearly 25 years and did a lot of cleaning in that job."

Other work experiences include driving limousines and charter buses, as well as working at Disney's Animal Kingdom. "I drove a lot of kids on prom nights in the limo, and took kids to field trips in the charter buses," he said. "I also loved working for Disney, but the drive from Brevard was just too much to keep up with it."

Space Coast Jr./Sr. High School custodian Joe Armet is known around campus for his positive attitude and ever-present smile. "I like the people I work with, and try hard to help others," Joe said.

Joe holds close the memories he has of being a high school student. "In Long Island, I attended a vocational school called Lawrence High. It was the same high school where Peggy Lipton went. She was a famous actress of a popular show at the time called The Mod Squad. The school was close to Jones Beach, where we loved to go to hang out."

Part of why he now enjoys working in a school is his passionate understanding of the connection between a quality education and a satisfying life. "In high school, I wanted to be a football player. I thought I'd be good at it because I was a big guy, a real big guy." Shaking his head, Joe added, "But it didn't work out."

As many adults like Joe can relate, not all of the big dreams, hopes, and goals one has in youth come to fruition. "That's exactly why kids need to stay in school," he said. "No matter what, getting an education is going to help."

Encouraging students to stay in school is at the heart of Joe's advice. "These days more than ever, kids really need to stay in school and get that diploma. I don't want to see anybody dropping out. There's not too many full-time, good-paying jobs out there without getting an education."

"Education is so important," he continued. "I know it was for my daughters. Both of them got a Master's degree from UCF. One of them does cancer research. My other daughter is an event planner for major companies. They make good money and live comfortably, and a lot of that has to do with the quality education they got. They have both done very well."

These days, one of Joe's favorite pastimes is baking. "I love making cupcakes. I do Easter cupcakes and Christmas cupcakes. I also make them for people's birthdays. Strawberry is my famous cupcakeI put real strawberries in them!"

When he's not baking, Joe enjoys gardening, yardwork, and swimming.

But life hasn't always been smooth sailing.

In the prime of his career with Publix, Joe was diagnosed with cancer, a struggle which knocked him out of work. "I was near death twice but I survived it. It was difficult for me and my family, but it taught me a lot. Now I strive to make the most out of each day, and I always try to make everybody smile."

"Publix helped me out a lot during that time. Both my manager and my assistant manager at the time gave me money out of their own pocket to help me survive and support my family. It meant the world to me that they cared so much."

Eventually, Joe beat cancer but the battle came at a great cost, including the loss of his family's home.

"At that point, my wife helped me looking for a job. I wound up getting a job as a security guard at Clearlake Middle School (which since closed and then reopened as an Adult Education Center) for 10 years.  My job was to make sure the school was safe, all the doors were locked, and no break-ins occurred."

"Around that time we moved to Palm Bay," said Joe. "Now, working here, it's a long drive to Space Coast from Palm Bay but it's absolutely worth it. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. When you're happy where you are, you stay where you are."

Joe had a flair for life long before he battled cancer, but he has savored every day even more ever since.

"I believe people should be happy and be kind to one another. That's what I try to do day by day."

With the purposeful, enthusiastic way he approaches his work, it is no wonder why Joe brings such big smiles to the faces of so many people.

Stay current with Space Coast Jr./Sr. High at Space Coast Edline.

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