Since the inception of the Texarkana Citizen of the Year Award, several people have been recognized and appreciated for actions that have impacted positively on the lives of others. Central to the award is that an individual must demonstrate exemplary leadership and act in a way that adds direct value to the lives of others. Throughout this year, I have seen and known of an individual that has met these noble requirements: Jennifer Smith. Smith is a 27 year old who has dedicated her life to the rehabilitation of homeless people, especially children. She has worked tirelessly to put the homeless in homes, schools and also get them medical assistance. In doing this, she has reached to other stakeholders who could help in her initiative, developing a network of friends and institutions that have helped her raise funds for this noble course. Her goal has been simple and straightforward: no one should belong to the streets, especially in the beautiful city of Texarkana. As a result, every homeless person deserves all the help they can get to live a decent life. While undertaking this personal initiative, Smith has demonstrated a sense of commitment and determination that has inspired many. This is what true leadership is all about. It is for this reason that I nominate her for the Texarkana Citizen of the Year account.
Perhaps one may wonder, why would embark on such an initiative, after all, if homeless people cannot get help of the local government, they can as well be left on their own. It turns out that Smith is far from being a perfect person. I say this because I have seen her at her worst moments. She has struggled to overcome a drug addiction that almost ruined her life completely. She even ran away from home at the age of 23 to live in the streets. With help from her parents and friends (yours truly included) Smith was able to return home and go through rehabilitation. She is currently studying for a degree in psychology. Smith is yet to recover fully, but she is almost there. The initiative of helping homeless people (with a particular emphasis on children) keeps her active and focused. Through it, she has been able to help not only the homeless but herself as well. When an imperfect person makes deliberate steps to better the lives of other people and that of herself in the process and succeeds to the extent that Smith has done, it is only fair that they are recognized and rewarded.
Smith has been doing this for the last three years. She has been able to put 40 homeless children through schooling, 63 adults to nursing home and has found employment for 27 individuals. Many of these have had to go through rehabilitation because they were battling severe drug addiction. Smith does this not expecting any pay at all. Her quest is as clear as it was at the beginning: even those that seem lost have a purpose in life and it is our duty to help them realize it. She inspires me greatly. As a matter of fact, I am not the only one; many have expressed deep admiration for her. It is my humble submission that such good deeds must be recognized, celebrated and encouraged. That is why I strongly think that Jennifer Smith is the ideal candidate for the Texarkana Citizen of the Year Award.
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