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FLORENCE, Ala. – Within the walls of Florence City Hall, District 1 Councilmember Kaytrina Simmons can often be found working on one of many things to benefit the city she loves.

“It’s rewarding and fulfilling to bring change and a make a difference in the lives of others,” said Simmons. “I enjoy doing what I do.”

Serving on the city council makes it easy for her to do that in different ways, like the $24 million development she helped bring to her district. “Nothing had been brought to District 1 since the late 60s,” Simmons said. “So we brought a $24 million housing development there.”

She’s proud to serve from the city council dais, but her contributions and public service extend far beyond the council chambers. “I partnered with my church, Galilee Missionary Baptist Church of Florence, in 2020, we were able to distribute over 30,000 food boxes within the shoals area,” she said.

Some involvement, like with Shoals Court Appointed Special Advocates, or CASA, comes from a personal place. “My mother was very instrumental with regard to me getting involved with CASA.” Her mother, Katie Simmons, is a big part of her story.

Every award Kaytrina gets, she dedicates to the mother who she says has no concept of the councilwoman’s success because Miss Katie has dementia.

But Kaytrina considers her mother her biggest supporter anyway; a mother who pushed her, even after one of Kaytrina’s siblings died in a car accident early in life.

“[My mother] was a foster grandparent herself, we had children in our home,” recalled Simmons. “That’s what drove me into getting involved with CASA. It’s very rewarding to see that they place those children in a loving, safe environment in their homes and to make a difference in their lives.”

She’s also involved with the Kiwanis Club, Junior League, and the Shoals Economic Development Authority, just to name a few.

She’s also a mother.

She lives to help others, and that compassion is what led her to run for city council. “I’m a servant by nature, at heart,” she explained. “I love our city that I reside in, I wanted to bring change, I wanted to make a difference. What better way than to be apart of it and run for that?”

And when she won, she didn’t know she was making history as she swore to serve her city. “When I decided to run, I didn’t look at it as being the first African-American female to run on the council,” she said. “I didn’t think of that at all. I guess it really didn’t dawn on me until after I won that night, and the reporters came to me and asked ‘How does it feel to be the first African-American female to ever sit on the Florence City Council?’ I had to pause for a minute and I thought, ‘Well, I guess I am that.'”

She doesn’t do it for credit, she does it because she cares. Or as she puts it, she’s a woman for the community.

A woman with a big heart and a very full schedule.

“When you enjoy what you’re doing it’s just different,” Simmons said. “When it’s a calling upon your life, God will give you the strength to do what you’re supposed to do.”