United Way honors those with a spirit of giving

“Mr. Fundraiser.” That’s a nickname the late Bob Smith earned with area nonprofit groups for his long history of generosity.

“Since he derived his livelihood from the community, he felt it was important to give back to the community,” said his son, Richard Smith.

Bob Smith, who spent much of his career with Everett’s D.A. Duryee &Co. Real Estate firm, died in 1997.

“He was still selling real estate the day he died. He was 82 years old,” Richard Smith said.

More than a decade after his passing, Bob Smith’s charitable work and gifts are not forgotten.

The Smith family will be honored today at United Way of Snohomish County’s Spirit of Snohomish County Breakfast at the Tulalip Resort Casino.

The family — Richard Smith and his wife, Mayumi Smith, and Bob Smith’s widow, Mary — will receive the agency’s Spirit of Snohomish County Reeves/Sievers’ Founders Award.

The annual award is named for J.A. Reeves and Roy Sievers. In 1940, they headed the founding of the Everett Community Chest, which evolved to become United Way of Snohomish County.

Scheduled as part of this morning’s event is a keynote talk by Kathy LeMay, an author whose book “The Generosity Plan” aims to help people meet important needs in their communities.

It’s a lesson Bob Smith passed along to his family’s next generation.

“We remain involved in the community today because of the impact my dad had on me — on all of us,” Richard Smith recently told United Way spokesman Neil Parekh.

Bob Smith came to Everett as a manager with the F.W. Woolworth Company. The retail chain had already transferred him several times, so he switched to real estate and put down deep roots in Everett.

Richard Smith said Tuesday that his father served on lots of boards and was involved with many organizations, including YMCA of Snohomish County, the Kiwanis Club and Providence Hospital, now Providence Regional Medical Center Everett.

“They called him Mr. Fundraiser,” Smith said.

The family is still part of the Tocqueville Society, a United Way association of individuals and families who contribute at least $10,000 per year. United Way supports dozens of local nonprofit groups, and funds its own initiatives.

Mayumi Smith is director of the Nippon Business Institute Japanese Cultural and Resource Center at Everett Community College. Raised outside Hiroshima, Japan, after World War II, she moved to Everett more than 30 years ago. She has taught Japanese language at EvCC and in Everett’s high schools.

Dennis Smith, president and CEO of the local United Way, said Everett’s Smith family is a real-life example of the agency’s slogan, “Living United.”

Richard Smith said his father would be pleased by the award. “He was an old farm boy from Virginia, with a Southern accent. He just liked people,” Smith said. “He always said ‘The more you give, the more you get back.’”

Other awards

The following awards will also be presented at today’s breakfast:

Spirit of Snohomish County Youth Award: Dominick Juarez, 18, volunteers with teens at the Cocoon House U-Turn drop-in center. An Everett Community College student, Juarez plans to attend the University of Washington and major in biochemistry and neurobiology. He hopes to go to dental school to become an orthodontist.

Amber Arrowsmith, a Cocoon House outreach coordinator, said Juarez once struggled in school and was at risk of gang involvement. Today, he is a peer mentor for other teens, while going to school and working at a clothing store. “He really can relate to the kids,” Arrowsmith said. “He’s very busy. That’s one thing he tries to instill in kids, about how being busy kept him out of trouble.”

Spirit of Snohomish County Adult Award: Mary Jane Vujovic is a volunteer and United Way donor who served in 2009 and 2010 as chairwoman of United Way of Snohomish County’s Community Matters Vision Council.

“We look at what it takes to make our county a healthy, happy place for people to live,” said Vujovic, 60, who works as director of strategic initiatives for Workforce Development Council of Snohomish County. “I feel that we all have an obligation to make our home a better place for everybody — to give back.”

Spirit of Snohomish County Labor Award: Allyn Triezenberg, an executive assistant with the Snohomish County Labor Council, has for years been instrumental in organizing the local letter carriers’ Stamp Out Hunger food drive.

“She has always been centrally involved in making that a success,” said Jason Redrup, business representative for District 751 of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. He works with Triezenberg on the food drive, United Way’s Day of Caring and other volunteer projects.

“Volunteering is like dropping a pebble in a pond,” Triezenberg told United Way’s Parekh. “It’s a small action, but it creates ripples.”

Spirit of Snohomish County Community Partner Award: Campbell’s StockPot, a company that makes fresh, refrigerated soups at its Everett plant, contributes in many ways through its Nourishing our Neighbors program.

Sue Butler, a supply chain analyst with the company and chairwoman of its Nourishing our Neighbors committee, said employees join in Campbell’s Dollars for Doers program, which donates $500 to a nonprofit group for every 25 hours a worker volunteers with that agency. The program recently helped raise money so that Senior Services of Snohomish County could give fresh fruit to clients in its Meals on Wheels program.

Campbell’s StockPot holds a successful United Way campaign each year. Employees donate to blood drives, coat drives and other efforts.

“They are such a positive force in this community,” Butler said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; muhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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