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Rising Stars: Meet Tahitiana Chaffin

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tahitiana Chaffin.

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
Born in Mexico City, my parents migrated on work visas to California when I was three years old. They sold produce out of their pickup truck near a Jewish community. In 1989 they had my middle brother, Max. We lived in East L.A. (this was in the 90’s) so it was a rough time with drive-by shootings, the bronco riots and one of the largest earthquakes in ’92/93 (can’t remember which year). Shortly after all the riots and such, my parents decided it was time to return to Mexico City, where I studied middle and high school. In 1998 my youngest brother was born, Samuel. He was born premature and with a lot of health complications from malnourishment. Even tho we were technically considered middle class in Mexico City, we didn’t have but the bare necessities to survive. Mom couldn’t get the medical help she needed while pregnant and that would end up costing Sammy’s health. Water, a luxury most Americans take for granted…I learned while we lived in Mexico City. In the city, the government shuts down the water access to parts of the city for days. So out of the week, we wouldn’t have water access for 2-3 days on a good week, other times it could be more. Same thing with cars, if your vehicle tag ended on a particular number or letter, you aren’t allowed to drive your vehicle on certain days or risk being towed/ticketed.

All this was a major impact on me as a teenager, riding the bus and subway alone to get to school was something entirely new in a city that at the time was one of the largest cities in the world. My Spanish was ok but not great, I often corrected my English teacher and that was severely frowned upon. The girls at school were not kind to a “foreigner” even tho I was one of them, I had lived the American dream most of them wish for. I was beat up for the first three months of middle school. I was expelled from two other schools because of this as well. It was a rough time in my life. Even our home was very different than the one we lived in California. We didn’t have floors, it was mostly concrete with metal sheets as roof, a bathroom with no traditional toilet seat (only the seat with no tank and no cover). You had to hand wash clothes and air dry them, you walked in the street and purchased groceries versus a store.

Within months after Samuel was born, my parents decided it was time to return to the USA and get Sammy the medical attention he desperately needed. So they moved us to North Carolina in 1999. We moved to what people often refer to as “the deep south”. I had never heard an accent so thick in the “English” I grew up with like the southern English I had to get used to.

When we arrived, we lived in someone’s garage for a few months (that was tough but we managed). Then we were approved to move into a section 8 housing where only a week later the state would be hit with one of the hardest winters in a while. It snowed so much we lost power for a week. Dad and I found work at a Chick-Fil-A where they were incredibly nice to us. The manager one day found out (after we asked if we could have the board boxes to sleep on…we had a few but needed more) about our living conditions and gathered his church to deliver us furniture to include, couch, kitchen table, beds and food! They were for sure a God sent for us.

Sammy’s health was a yo-yo at this point, so Mom couldn’t work. I had dreams of becoming a Law Enforcement Officer since I could remember and wanted to follow those dreams. But my family needed me and it was a dangerous profession. Also, my family being incredibly religious and with strong cultural beliefs, my dream profession just wasn’t suitable for me as a female. So I obliged to my parent’s requests until 2004 when I had enough of the odd-end jobs with no real passion for them. I decided to pursue what I desired and in Fall of 2004, I graduated from the Basic Academy and started working with Monroe Police. I loved it!! It was everything I had imagined and more!

And what was even more exciting was that I was now the Hero in my brother’s eyes. Both of them loved the idea that they had a sister that was a cop!!! They loved sitting in my car and playing with the lights and sirens.

While working with Monroe PD, I was appointed to be the liaison for the Hispanic community in my town with several agencies like CIA, ICE, SBI, FBI and Homeland. I was awarded “Officer of the Year” in 2009 and received many letters of accommodation from other agencies, local residents and businesses. I was able to establish and help our 911 center with quick Spanish reference sheets and established a yearly Christmas give-back events for several years. As the first Latina in that department and the only female in the 2nd department, it wasn’t easy (the deep south was brutal back then) but it was worth every struggle to see the results and community partnership we had accomplished. Law Enforcement afforded me a platform to help so many in different aspects. And it also exposed me to an evil I didn’t know existed. And while I was living my dream, my choice in careers and moving out of my parent’s home (before getting married) caused severe damage to my already shaky relationship with them.

In 2006 Sammy was diagnosed with Osteosarcoma Cancer and was given three months to live. He was granted a Make-A-Wish dream, he wanted to visit Disneyworld. After several surgeries and chemo he entered into remission and we had the honor of having him with us for three more years. As the older sister and being 7 and 16 years apart from my brothers, most thought that Sammy was my baby since we were inseparable. In 2009 the Doctor discovered Cancer again, only this time it had evolved into a much more aggressive type and had spread to his entire body.

It was the same year my now Husband had proposed, we had scheduled to marry in July but the doctor said to not wait, so we rescheduled it for June. Sammy was part of my wedding and I will forever be grateful for that. He passed away in August 2009. While all this was going on my middle brother was learning who he was as a person and came out as gay. Naturally, this didn’t sit well with our parents and soon after Sammy passed away, we lost touch. We fell apart as a family.

My husband and I moved to Florida in 2011 when he got deployed to Afghanistan for three years. I decided to take a year off Law Enforcement until he returned. After the first few months of being home with no job and almost going crazy lol I decided to get my Real Estate License and after a great first year, I decided I would continue.

Real Estate granted me the ability to see the good in people once again. You see, after eight years of being a cop, you are trained that everyone lies, they all want to hurt you and you are always on full alert. This has a heavy burden both myself and my husband carried everyday. So being out of that felt nice…for a while. Ten years later and I miss it with a passion unlike anything else. With that said, I decided that instead of going back on the force, I would run for Commissioner in my county (Osceola-District 5) and make changes from the top. And while I knew NOTHING about politics, I ran in 2020. I lost to a 5th generation Osceola resident and I learned a lot. I met some incredible people and organizations and I’ve been able to partner up with them to make significant impact in people lives!

Since being a Realtor, I’ve given classes on how to be a better agent, Safety classes, participated in many community outreach events and donated countless hours to help raise awareness to local issues.

While I don’t have biological children, I do have two beautiful bonus-daughters and they’ve been a blessing in my life! We also adopted four dogs in 2020 (crazy, I know lol). And my brother Max and I are closer than ever! So my life is full and I am happy. It’s not always been easy or pleasant, but thanks in part to my life experiences I’ve learned to roll with the punches and be prepared for anything.

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I am a REALTOR. I help people buy and sell their homes, businesses and land. I mostly work with residential properties and I’m incredibly proud that I don’t pay for advertisement. Most of my business is from word-of-mouth, I take huge pride in educating my clients so they feel confident in the process of buying or selling one of the largest investments most of us will ever make.

My goal for my people is to simplify the journey to make it as smooth as possible for them. I’ve helped people relocate to FL and purchase homes with them never actually setting foot in the homes they’ve purchased and be incredibly happy with both the home and my services. I’ve now had a 3rd generation client! To me thats the ultimate sign of success!

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
By far my husband, he has been there for me since we met. During one of the toughest times in my life and even driving Sammy to the funeral home (in his police car) and dressing him for his burial ceremony, to helping me re-build my relationship with my middle brother.

I met this Lady named Pam, she was like my work mom. She pushed me to pursue my Law Enforcement dream and encouraged me to follow that dream. She listened and cared unlike any other at the time. This was back in 2002 I believe, we remain in contact.

During my training my FTO (field training officer) who was so incredibly patient with me and made sure I learned everything I could to be the best Cop I could be.

My baby brother, he was by far one of the strongest, smartest and happiest person I’ve met. He taught me to be happy even when everything is going wrong. To be you and not to worry so much about what others might think or say. He was wise beyond his years.

In Real Estate, I would have to say Dave, my former team leader. He pushed me into classes I didn’t think I was ready for, knowing I had the potential to not only do more but make a bigger impact. I cried several times because I didn’t think I belonged in that panel and carried that imposter syndrome with me, but he didn’t let off, so to him, I’m forever thankful.

My middle brother Max! Since the day they brought him home, he has been my biggest fan and cheerleader! He supports me in everything I do and cheers me on like nobody else. I can call him for anything.

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