Annie Smith likes to say, “I didn’t discover community service, community service discovered me." As the oldest of seven children, Smith understood the importance of helping others and service was embedded in her at an early age.
In high school, she got the opportunity to serve as a candy striper at St. Vincent Hospital, where she went to patients’ rooms to pass out newspapers, magazines and snacks. To Smith, it wasn’t about the items that she was distributing, it was about visiting with the patients and listening to their stories. Smith believes her greatest strength is her ability to listen and her biggest passion is youth development. “Every young person needs to have a caring adult in their life, someone they can trust and confide in. None of us are perfect but we are all unique and loved.”
Smith is and always has been an advocate for Indy’s youth. For years, she led the United Way of Central Indiana program, Youth as Resources (YAR). Under her leadership, the YAR program helped thousands of young people develop leadership skills, created projects and programs that met serious needs in their respective communities and formed a pipeline of youth leaders that positively impacted Indy beyond measure.
Smith has mentored hundreds of youth, teaching them about community development, grant writing, facilitation and leveraging their leadership ability. One mentee shared, “As Smith’s mentee, she pushed me to earn my high school diploma and college degree and helped me to see it as the best path for my family to get out of poverty. Annie's love for her work and legacy of positive impact inspired my career in youth development. She showed me what is possible when one person is determined, passionate, skilled, educated and earnest.”
Smith feels blessed to be able to give back and is thankful be part of the Central Indiana community. Her one wish is that every person can find happiness. Giving back is something that comes naturally to Smith and has become her way of life. “Service doesn’t have to be on a grand scale, it’s in the little things that we do to help people feel special.”