Jan Smith was named the 2012 Outstanding Female Citizen at the 48th Annual Chamber Banquet on Monday, Sept. 24, 2012.
Last year's Outstanding Female Citizen, Leah Andrews, made the presentation for the 2012 Outstanding Female Citizen, Jan Toland Smith.
"The 2012 Female Outstanding Citizen is truly one of the most inspirational women I have ever met. When I speak with other folks about her, without fail the conversation always turns to the same things. Everyone mentions some of the same endearing and admirable traits," said Andrews.
"When you meet her you first notice the light in her eyes that matches the joy in her smile. She truly has a servant heart and she really enjoys helping and bring happiness to others. Her make-up and personality is one that is not driven by recognition or awards, but in seeing the smile on anotherâ€™s face and knowing that she played a part in it," Andrews continued.
Andrews then told about speaking to Mrs. Smith's husband, Steve Smith. "Her husband lit up as he was telling me about her. He said she was the rock of their family. He described her as the glue that kept him and their children focused, happy, successful and loved as they grew. He said it wasnâ€™t an easy task either as they have six children, including two daughters and four sons that were born within 15 years. He said that while he was busy focusing on his career, she never failed to get each of those kids where they needed to be and when, and made sure he was informed enough to make their sporting and other events because of her diligent care."
Her husband gives her much love and much credit for the familyâ€™s success. Her husband also said she speaks with every one of those grown children every day to this day, maintaining the family closeness that they enjoy.
Mrs. Smith grew up in this area with family in the Sweetwater and Capitola area. She graduated from Big Spring High School and got a degree in journalism from Texas Tech University in 1973. In 1979, she returned and got her teaching certificate as well. "As she was birthing and raising those kids, this busy lady was teaching as well," said Andrews.
She taught middle school and high school in schools all over the nation including Jackson, Mississippi; Little Rock, Arkansas; and El Paso, Texas.
"This doesnâ€™t surprise anyone who knows her because she has a great relationship with young people, showing them kindness and love and offering help and advice as she can. In fact, I have heard stories of years and years of her feeding not only her kids, but lots of their friends too â€” even entire teams of kids. She takes a real interest in youth and in their lives, making them know how important and loved they are. That is a huge asset in todayâ€™s world and something that too many young people are missing, again showing how much she loves bringing happiness to others," said Andrews.
"She had a challenging upbringing in West Texas," she continued, "but she and her husband worked hard to achieve and enjoy a global level of success. Her life experiences have shown her both hard times and great financial success and opportunities. She has a keen understanding of human challenges, financial needs and also of global resources to meet community and individual needs."
The 2012 Outstanding Female Citizen and her husband could have located their family anywhere but they chose Sweetwater. She brought the family to Sweetwater in 2004 while her husband was still working and commuting throughout the country as an executive vice president for an international company.
Since moving the family here, she has become a leader in multiple initiatives including the Nolan County Foundation Board of Directors, Highland High School projects, many initiatives of the First United Methodist Church, Gaylordâ€™s Pantry and Nolan County student agriculture and livestock activities and multiple scholarship programs.
"The 2012 Outstanding Female Citizen has been described as a game changer for Sweetwater. She not only has personally helped many organizations and groups, she also inspires others to become more active on behalf of Sweetwater, myself included, "stated Andrews. "She and her husband have reached out to their national and international friends and business contacts to invest in Sweetwater as well."
"Although she is listed on many charitable boards, you should understand that when she chooses to be involved in an activity, her contributions are far from just handing out contribution checks to have her name listed somewhere. She is a worker who is physically active in the mission she believes in and she always devotes her time, creativity, direct efforts and her enthusiasm. She recruits allies to begin new charitable activities such as the Shrimp Peel to benefit the West Texas Rehab Center. She serves on the board of the Municipal Auditorium and has such enthusiasm for it and its events that she and her husband underwrite some performances for its benefit. She equally joins in projects initiated by others as well as leading her own new initiatives when she believes those will benefit the community. She is determined and doesnâ€™t give up when the situation calls for it. She is innovative and fearless thinker. If you have a project for a good cause, need information, or need to get something done â€” call her," said Andrews. "She is a worker and a mover. If it needs to happen she will get it done!"
Andrews continued by saying that one of the most endearing traits of hers is that so much of what she does for others is unknown and unannounced in the community. "She does these things to help because thatâ€™s who she is, not for the announcement or to get the credit. She just loves bringing smiles and joy to others. That is who she is."
"The 2012 Outstanding Female Citizen is my friend, my mentor, one of the most beautiful, loving and giving souls I know. I am honored to have the privilege of presenting this award to her and to be able to watch and learn from her and see how LOVE in action really works."