Shonda Reshea Simmons-Jenkins is the youngest of 14 children born on November 1, 1971 to Mr. Lige “Hamnuckle” (deceased) and Mrs. Ivory M. Simmons on Ten-Mile Hill in the Oak Grove Subdivision. After receiving my diploma from R.B. Stall High School in 1990, exiting the United States Air Force in 1994, relocating to New York City in June, God calling my father home on October 13, 1994, I entered the funeral industry as a secretary one week after the passing of my daddy.
Devastated by my own father’s death, yet God had me to help other families through their time of bereavement in a time when women funeral directors was frowned upon. Upon graduating from American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Services in December 1997, receiving my New York Funeral Directors Licensed in May 1999, returning home to receive my South Carolina Funeral Director and Embalming license in July 2000, God has allowed me to break many barriers as a female.
It’s certainly a true saying, “God open doors no man can’t close”! Upon returning home to SC, I had the privilege of working under Mr. Bryan McNeal, Jr. “W.M. Smith-McNeal Funeral Home” for two years, becoming the only active African American female embalmer. In 2004, I became the first female embalmer in 93 years at Fielding Home for Funerals, under the Honorable Judge Fieldings. In 2006, I became the first African Amercian trade female embalmer in the tri-county and surrounding areas and had the privileged of becoming the first female embalmer for Hilton’s Mortuary from 2006-2011, Chisolm-Galloway Home for Funerals from 2008 to present, and Mungo Funeral Home from 2014-present.
Almost 20 years to the death of my father, that God had me to go back to the place where it all began for me to embalm for North Area Funeral Home under Rev. Timothy Simmons from 2013 to 2015. It was in that place that God took me to my next level of opportunity and “Grace Funeral Services, LLC” was established. But it only came after the sound advice from my mother and after forgiving the funeral home for the unpleasant disposition of my father in the casket. Therefore, I take pride and joy in my work as a License Embalmer so that no family under my care will have an unpleasant disposition of their love one in the casket.
The greatest milestone for me, is when God allowed me, a female to make history, by opening two (2) funerals homes in one year. Thank you Lord!
I’m a faithful member of Fresh Anointing Ministries Worship Center, located on 551 Myers Road, Summerville, SC 29483, where the Rev. Alvin B. Akins, is my Pastor and Mrs. Sarah A. Akins, the first and only lady. If you have a Pastor and First Lady who does not believe in your dreams, visions, and goals; who does not help you to get to your next level; who does not encourage you for greatness; move from under them. It wasn't until I got up under this leadership that Grace Funeral Services developed and they have put their hand to the plow and pushed along with me.
I leave this to everyone, don't block your blessings! Learn to forgive so you can reach your next level of greatness. It doesn't matter how young or old you are everyone has a purpose on earth, if you have a dream or vision, God will provide you with the provisions. You must activate your faith and work it. It doesn't matter how you start, it only matters how you finish.
I’m married to an awesome, blessed man of God, whom I gladly call my husband for five (5) years, Mr. Christopher Jenkins, and he helps me in the business. I’m blessed to have 2 sons, Kenyatta and Douglas; 1 grandson, 9 marvelous sisters and 4 awesome brothers: Barbara A. Lewis-Jolly, Rev. Catherine (Pastor Ronald) Nelson, Geneva (Thomas) Nelson, Eliza (Timothy) Conner, Dr. Juanita Sanders, Rev. Shirley A. Simmons, 1st Lady Ivy (Pastor William) Jemison, Rev. Kathy Simmons, and Retired Major Vondalyn L. Simmons; Dea. Elias (Mary) “Ironman” Simmons, Alphonso L. Simmons (Deceased), Epstein B. Simmons, and Rev. Edward (Alisa) Simmons; a wonderful mother-in-law, Mrs. Lillie Mae Jenkins; 7 blessed in-laws, Ejurie (Jake) Brown, Veronica (James) Doly, Bobby (Ramona) Jenkins, Verda (Dea. Melvin) Graham, Mary (Trustee Edward) Smith, and Alonzo Jenkins; a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives and friends.