Anne Smith is passionate about helping others. As secretary and surviving spouse liaison of the Greater Shoals (Ala.) Chapter, she routinely plans new efforts to help members of her community, especially veterans and servicemembers.
“I'm always thinking about what we can do for somebody else,” Smith says. “I think it's fun to work together with people to help other people.”
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Recently, she coordinated a team to knit caps for the 115th Signal Battalion, a local National Guard unit that was deploying overseas.
“I had read their helmets are difficult to keep warm,” Smith explains. So she used her contacts to spread the word about the project. She spoke to a woman who teaches knitting at the local YMCA as well as a local craft store that holds a knitting class and got them on board, in addition to other community volunteers. “I asked them to join us, and they said it was a great project,” Smith says. “We got instructions, made them, and delivered 250 knit caps, all washed, folded, and bagged to be given out by chaplain.”
Several years ago, she organized a Cell Phones for Soldiers drive through which the chapter solicited and collected used mobile phones for servicemembers to use during their deployments. Over 100 cellphones were collected.
Her efforts haven't gone unnoticed. Smith was recognized during national MOAA's annual meeting this fall as recipient of the 2018 Surviving Spouse Liaison Excellence Award, which honors a council/chapter surviving spouse liaison who demonstrates superior performance in the areas of recruiting and retention, representation, and leadership.
“Chapters of MOAA have that special someone who is always there, always the participant, and when needed, always the one who steps forward to make sure that things get done,” says Lt. Col. Allen D. “Skip” Butler, USA (Ret), vice president of the Greater Shoals Chapter. “That person in our chapter is Anne Smith.”
In her chapter, Smith is involved in every activity and meeting. She makes phone calls to encourage attendance at meetings, picks up members that cannot drive, decorates the tables, coordinates the meals, and brings the portable speaker system so hard-of-hearing members can enjoy the speakers. She also keeps fellow military spouses informed about chapter activities and national MOAA activities and benefits through emails, personal phone calls, and visits.
Smith says her volunteer efforts keeps her busy, and she enjoys it. “I guess I don't plan on stopping anytime soon,” she laughs.
The camaraderie in her chapter also motivates her. “We know each other and truly care about each other,” she says. “We're a small group, but we're able to reach out and make a difference. That's the kind of organization we have.”