Hero of the Week Kathy Smith

Published 2:15 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

In the heart of Selma and Dallas County, Kathy Smith stands as the Selma Times-Journal’s Hero of the Week, a testament to resilience, faith and community betterment. 

A married mother of six, a grandmother of 16, and a great-grandmother of 17, Smith’s journey to becoming a community hero is marked by personal struggles that she overcame with unparalleled determination.

In 2008, as her late son battled kidney failure, Smith faced her own health crisis, being diagnosed with diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Emphysema and congestive heart failure. For almost eleven years, Smith navigated life primarily bedridden, reliant on oxygen. Yet, every Sunday, propelled by her indomitable spirit and unwavering faith, Smith, in her wheelchair with an oxygen tank in tow, made it a priority to attend church.

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“I am a walking miracle,” Smith said. “If I can come back from that, you can too. You can do anything. God will make a way.”

Today, Smith works a full-time job at Selma’s One Way Bookstore and dedicates her free time to giving back to the community she loves. For over thirty years, she has been an integral part of the lady’s organization, Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA), currently serving as the president of the Selma branch.

According to the group’s webpage, ESA was established in 1929 with the original goal of preparing its members to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world through leadership, educational and service programs. With the drastic changes brought on by World War II, the group extended its focus to include public service and philanthropy.

Ruminating on the group’s success through the years, Smith recalls that initially, meetings were held in members’ homes before membership grew too large and they relocated gathering to local churches. She attributes much of their success to the collaborative efforts of members’ husbands, including her own husband Jerry, emphasizing the importance of partnership.

“I’m so honored to call him (Jerry) my best friend. I nicknamed him ‘We’ because whatever it is, we can do it together,” Smith said. “I know it’s a lady’s group but when you’re in (ESA), your husband is in too.”

One memorable project involved helping a community member in need of a new floor. Group members, with the help of their husbands, secured donations and installed the floors, showcasing the power of unity within the organization.

However, ESA is just one facet of Smith’s extensive community involvement. In 1993, she was a founding member of the Selma Alabama Food Bank, helping to lay the groundwork for an organization that now distributes over two million pounds of food annually. Additionally, she is an active member of the Womans Missionary Union (WMU) through West Central Baptist Church, an auxiliary of the Alabama State Board of Missions which volunteers frequently in Dallas County with a focus on sharing the love of Christ with their community.

Despite her significant contributions, Smith deflects any credit, emphasizing the collective efforts of various individuals, groups and churches working towards a common goal.

“So many groups come together and cross over, and it’s all God-centered and community focused,” Smith said. “We love this community, and we don’t turn our back on anyone.”