TRENTON, NJ - Nutley's 'Community Pillar' Walt Smith was officially recognized as such when he was presented with the 2018 New Jersey Governor's Jefferson Award at the War Memorial in Trenton earlier this month. The award recognizes civic engagement of volunteers in the Garden State.
The awards bill themselves as 'ordinary people doing extraordinary things,' but according to Nutley Family Service Bureau Executive Director, Eileen Painter, "Walt is anything but ordinary."
In March of this year, Smith's leadership made headlines when the annual 'Scouting for Food' drive shattered all previous records where the scouts collected more than 27,000 food items for the pantry operation. Painter told TAPinto Nutley that 'Scouting for Food' is the largest single source of food to address the issue of food insecurity in town. Smith countered Painter by crediting the success of 'Scouting for Food' to the scouts themselves, and the support of scouting families.
Outside of Scouting for Food, Smith is very active in Cub Scout Troop 141. He was recently president of the Nutley Rotary Club, is the township chair for the Republican Committee, and is President of the John H. Walker Foundation. Smith was quick to point out that the annual John H. Walker walk takes place annually at the end of September. This year's date has not been set yet.
In the past, the Nutley Jaycees was one of the larger service organizations in town. The first project Smith worked on with the Jaycees was 'Annie Oakely Day' on the Nutley Park Oval. The rodeo celebrated Nutley's most famous resident with a parade, an army band, and everything one would expect from an old-fashioned rodeo. More than 8,000 attended the event, which was repeated only once after local officials frowned upon the idea of livestock on the football field. That event was done in conjunction with Kiwanis.
For 25 years Smith held a leadership role at the Nutley Red Cross, including serving as chair a few times. When the Red Cross began consolidating operations earlier this decade, the Nutley Red Cross closed. Their building on Chestnut Street eventually became the Nutley Family Service Bureau annex. SMith also served as the president of the Central Little League, they are now the Nutley East Little League.
Smith also served the community by serving the local government. He spent ten years on the Nutley Planning Board and was the Revenue and Finance Commissioner. He was first elected as a commissioner in 1988 and served through 1996.
Looking forward, Smith is already making plans for Scouting for Food 2019, tentatively set for the last Saturday of March, continuing his work with Rotary International, and volunteering for residents of Nutley's Senior Housing. Smith recently spent a morning cooking eggs for 130 people at the building.
Smith told TAPinto Nutley that he credits so much of his ability to give to others to the support of his wife of 53 years. He was emphatic about making certain that we report that all the people who work and volunteer with him have made everything possible. "I encourage everyone to get involved in the community," Smith said, "the things that make Nutley great is the groups like Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Unico, service groups and other volunteer groups."
The Jefferson Awards were established in 1972 by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Senator Robert Taft Jr., and Sam Bear as the official recognition program of the United States Senate. They are considered America’s highest honor for public service and volunteerism.
In New Jersey the awards are also the official recognition program of the Governor’s Advisory Council on Volunteerism, administered by a partnership that includes the NJ Office of Volunteerism, NJ Advance Media, the Community Foundation of New Jersey, and corporate sponsors including PNC Bank and PSEG.
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