Local woman earns Woman of Distinction award for volunteer work


Janet Smith, left, earned the Woman of Distinction award from an organization in Florida. She’s pictured here with Susan Nasarani, president of the American Association of University Women.

Submitted photo

CUMBERLAND – A Cumberland woman has been named Woman of Distinction by a Florida organization, honoring her volunteer work both locally and abroad.

Janet Smith received the honor March 18 by the Sun City Center / Southshore Branch of the American Association of University Women.

The organization chooses a local woman to be honored annually for outstanding volunteer or professional work.

Smith lives in Florida half the year, and Cumberland the other half. She was honored for her volunteer work in Indiana, Florida and abroad.

In 2022, Smith spent two weeks in Poland helping arrange accommodations for Ukrainian refugees, giving them encouragement and making friends.

The trip happened after maintaining strong ties to Poland for over 30 years. Her husband, Bill Smith, is a former minister at Cumberland Christian Church and former board member of Polish Christian Ministries. The couple first went to Poland in 1989 and returned in 1993, and they have supported ministry there over the years.

Polish Christian Ministries had planned to bring a group from the US. to celebrate a century of the Polish Christian Church, but then Russia invaded ukraine. The organization then coordinated teams to help refugees. Smith was part of a group that served last summer; her husband was unable to join for health reasons, but she was able to volunteer at a camp that hosted about 100 refugees.

Smith has a degree in business administration with a minor in religion. She has served as organist at churches, has raised three children, and has worked for Roche Diagnostics as a documentation consultant. Smith has also traveled to Switzerland and Germany to teach business writing.

The Smiths, now retired, have spent half the year in Sun City Center, Fla. since 2007. There, she volunteered as a mentor at a correctional facility and then started Haven of Hope, a non-profit organization that rents a home for women in transition. While the home closed in 2020 due to the pandemic, the non-profit still exists to help women upon their release from prison and Smith serves as president of the board.