PORTAGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — In a room tucked behind her kitchen, Rhonda Smith can be found combining her passion for veterans with hand-blended, loose teas.

Rhonda Smith of Blue Knob Pa. Air Force Veteran

Smith, a veteran herself, spent about 10 years on active duty in the Air Force. When she came home to Clearfield County, a post-military life was harder than she expected.

“It is an adjustment period,” Smith, the founder of The Skirted Soldier, said. “It’s a different environment when you’re not in the service. Our language is different. The way we carry ourselves is different. I thought, there has to be a way for other female veterans to not have to experience this like I did. There has to be a way to create a business where we can employ female veterans as they are or help them set up their own business.”

The idea to create a tea company, called The Skirted Soldier, started in 2018 at her kitchen table.

She would always drink coffee tea at a former tea shop in Duncansville and her mom and daughter would always laugh. One day, she and her daughter drove by the former location and it brought back memories.

“And she said, ‘oh remember when we would go there and you would get coffee tea and how funny that was,'” Smith explained. “We came home that evening and we tried our hand at making a batch of coffee tea and that was our very first signature blend and it just took off from there.”

Rhonda Smith of Blue Knob Pa. Air Force Veteran

The business started with six original blends. There are now 40 different kinds and counting.

“It takes a while to create something that we want to put our name on,” Smith said.

Each tea has a unique name that has a relation to the military like basic training, colonel and first sergeant. If the blend has caffeine, Smith calls that ammo.

“Packaging the tea, making the tea, coming up with new recipes is very therapeutic for me,” Smith expressed.

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However, what’s most meaningful to Smith is being able to give 10% of her sales to help other female veterans. It’s what keeps her going.

Rhonda Smith of Blue Knob Pa. Air Force Veteran

“That’s all I need,” she said. “Knowing that we are giving back and just having the ability to help other female veterans either get on their feet or just help move them to the next step of being self-sufficient and sustainable and having their own operation that makes them happy.”

With every sip, comes support. So far this year Smith has been able to donate a little more than $4,000.

With a mission to give back and a heart to help others, you can cheers comfort in every cup.

“And hopefully we can eventually employ female veterans because that is part of our vision statement and it is in our strategic plan,” Smith said.

The Skirted Soldier has been sold in dozens of states. Of course the goal is to get to all 50.

Reach out to Maggie Smolka if you know someone or an organization that’s making it matter in the community. You can email msmolka@wtajtv.com or message her on Facebook.