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Denver couple awarded for lifetime of philanthropy

Staff Writer

A local couple has been awarded the Governor’s Volunteer Service Award for their countless philanthropic efforts made to better the community. Chuck and Marissa Smith of Denver were honored with the award at this year’s United Way Annual Meeting with a surprise announcement.

“We were shocked,” Marissa said. “Our grandchildren were there and our daughter was there so it was nice that they were there with us … We didn’t expect it.”

The two had no idea that they had even been nominated for the award by county coordinator Kathy Vinzant.

“We had no idea it was coming,” Chuck said. “Prior to them presenting us with our certificate, the presenters announced the names and we thought ‘Hey, that kind of sounded like us.’ We didn’t put it all together right away.”

The couple has made tremendous use of the extra time on their hands that comes with retirement, finding different ways to involve themselves with nonprofit organizations. Chuck, a former military serviceman, takes great pride in helping current troops and their families in these difficult times. Marissa worked as an educator and has now taken interest in supporting the United Way, serving as the allocation chair on the board of directors.

“I’ll tell you, Chuck and Marissa Smith are two of the kindest, most generous, thoughtful people that I have ever met in my entire life,” county commission candidate Dr. Elaine Jenkins said. “When they both retired, they decided to take a more proactive role in the community and in organizations and efforts that they believe in deeply. A big chunk of their time, day and night, is spent in trying to help with organizations that they’ve decided to support.”

Chuck and Marissa have been married for 32 years now and have two children, a daughter and son, as well as four grandchildren. The Smiths hope that their many charitable efforts have taught their children and grandchildren how important it is to give back to the community in any capacity.

Marissa has done great work, not only with the United Way, but also with Amy’s Closet and the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She relishes supporting organizations like the United Way that help with a wide variety of causes throughout the community.

“The impact that volunteers have on all the United Way agencies is unbelievable,” Marissa said. “It’s unbelievable how many volunteers work to help make those agencies function as well as they do. All those silent people out there that are working very hard are worthy of accolades and we would have loved to share this award with them also.”

Chuck’s volunteer work with the military is done through the Special Forces Charitable Trust, which is a government approved non-profit organization. The Smiths solicit donations such as socks, hand sanitizer and other miscellaneous items that are then forwarded to troops awaiting deployment as well as those that are already overseas on the battlefield. Chuck and Marissa make donations to the children of the troops as well, providing gifts like autographed footballs, dolls and necklaces that the parents can give as a memento at deployment parties before they ship out. Their grandchildren also get involved, making cards and writing letters to the servicemen and women that are certainly greatly appreciated.

“I just don’t think you could pick two people that exemplify the essence of that award better than Chuck and Marissa Smith,” Jenkins said. “They’re just fabulous, thoughtful people.”

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