Search
Sunday 25 August 2019
  • :
  • :

Balancing act Kathy Smith Balances Business, Family, Fun, While Serving Her Community

Story by JEFF WHITTEN
Photos by NATALIE TURNER

Not surprisingly, Kathy Smith is a successful businesswoman. It’s one
of the reasons she’s a good fit as president of the Board of Directors
of the Pooler Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Bureau, an
organization aimed at promoting the city as both tourist destination
and a good place to do business.

Nor, perhaps, should it come as any great surprise that Smith was
named the Chamber’s 2014 Ambassador of the Year after she spent her
first two years as a member helping drum up support – and new members
– for the organization that supports economic development through
“networking, teamwork and innovative thinking,” according to its
bylaws.

Smith, you see,  takes the Chamber to heart.

Upon joining the group three years ago, Smith began “to realize
the importance of membership as well as support of the Chamber,” she
said, noting that once she understood what the Chamber did, becoming a
Chamber ambassador just seemed the thing to do. “I feel that the
networking opportunities are endless, and I wanted the chance to meet
other members and introduce myself to businesses, letting them now how
beneficial membership is. I focused on getting more members and
sponsorships in support of ‘my’ Pooler Chamber. I take it to heart and
treat other businesses as if they were family.”

From the start, she was all in. Smith served on the Chamber’s
Board of Directors for a year, and was elected to her first term as
president this year after two years as ambassador.

Then, Smith found all the hard work as ambassador paid off when
she was named the Chamber’s 2014 Ambassador of the year, an award she
was “honored” to receive and one that serves as testament to the two
years she spent bringing new members into the organization.

All of which perhaps wouldn’t mean as much were it not for the
shared goal between the city of Pooler and the Chamber of Commerce, a
goal which perhaps can be summed up as continued economic vitality and
quality growth.

“Through advertisement and word of mouth along with growth,
Pooler has now become a destination city,” Smith said. “Pooler
continues to grow. The addition of Surf Lagoon, Tanger Outlet, Imax,
along with the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, and so
many other attractions has put Pooler on the map.”

With more folks, there’s more of a drive to get the Pooler brand
out there as well while also giving back and giving residents events
in which to be involved.

“The Chamber is hosting more events for Pooler such as our Hearts
for Heroes Gala in February, Breakfast with Santa in November and
Pooler in the Park next spring or summer,” Smith said, noting as
president “I am part of a tremendous and professional board. My role
is to ensure the Chamber continues to move forward and follows our
bylaws, and I am proud to be on the board and so honored to be serving
as president. I feel it is my role to spread the word on the growth of
Pooler and the Pooler chamber.”

And so she does. Every chance she gets.

For starters, Smith says the Chamber is “honored and proud to
have Pam Southard as our executive director.”

“Pam plays an important leadership role for the chamber. She
assumed the responsibility with a great deal of pride and works
closely with the board. She also works closely with Linda Saytanides,
officer coordinator, to ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of the
chamber. Her door is always open.” That’s always a plus in a place
that treats business as a pleasure and can use its success as its best
advertisement.

“The best way to describe Pooler to someone who doesn’t know
about it is to state the facts,” Smith said. “Pooler is one of the
fastest growing cities in Georgia. We are not only the home of Fortune
500 companies, but also restaurants, new hotels and businesses that
not only offer employment to the community, but also provide
opportunities for shopping, dining and leisure to residents and
visitors alike.”

Remember that old slogan, the one that rhymed? It’s Cooler in Pooler.

“Yes, ‘It’s Cooler in Pooler,’” Smith said. “And that’s more
meaningful and true now than ever before.”

Everyone needs to have something else to do, something to feed to
the heart and nourish the soul. For Smith, through such benefits as
the Chambers’ Hearts for Heroes, she also finds time to do good
things, and endeavors to help support such organizations as Wounded
Warriors, the Red Cross and, in 2015, the Coastal Children Advocacy’s
Center, a nonprofit that works tirelessly to serve children who’ve
been victimized by those who would do them harm.

“CCAC provides a safe, confidential, child friendly site for free
investigative and therapeutic services to victims of child abuse,”
Smith said. “They are the voice of the tiniest victims. We honor the
courage of the smallest among us, those who have been harmed by sexual
abuse, physical abuse and exploitation, and who gain strength through
the services, expertise and support through CCAC.”

There’s also Lindsey’s Place, a nonprofit providing special needs
kids and young adults with both residential and day outings. The camp
was founded in 2008 in Savannah and is one of the first of its kind in
the South. “Lindsey’s Place is also very important to me,” Smith said.

Indeed.

“When the organization was first founded I was honored to sit on
the board for Lindsey’s Place,” Smith said. “One of the first things
was fundraising to be able to purchase the land that would be called
‘Lindsey’s Place.’”

And, there’s time for relaxation.

“I enjoy traveling, going to the pool with family and friends,
and spending time with my family,” Smith said. “I also love to fish. I
like both salt water and fresh water fishing the same. I love fishing
down on the pier at Tybee, and I go to Florida and Myrtle Beach to
fish. If you have to look for me, I’ve gone fishing.”

LIke most good habits, this one started early in life for Smith,
who said she was 9 when her dad would take her and her two siblings
fishing.

“Dad always had to bait our hooks and take our fish off,” she
said. “Then he wised up, said ‘if you are going to fish, you’re going
to bait your hook and take off your fish.’”

It was apparently like turning a kid loose in a candy store.
“That’s when we no longer had to wait on Dad,” Smith recalled. “I
could bait and take the fish off faster and get my pole back in the
water ….”

There was a favorite family fishing spot, too  — Beard’s Bluff
in Glennville. It sits on a bend of the Altamaha River and Smith
remembers fishing “under the cypress trees with the water moccasins
hanging on the limbs above us,” she said, because “that’s where the
fish were at.”

“Dad always said if you don’t mess with the snakes they don’t
mess with you, and as a child I believed that until one day one fell
in the boat,” she said. “You can only imagine what happened next.”

These days, fishing seems a more tranquil pursuit, though there
apparently have been times when Smith’s mother has dumped the crickets
out to get her daughter to call it a day. But there’s a solace in the
connection between rod and reel, water and woman. Smith called it
peace of mind.

“All your troubles, all your thoughts just disappear,” she said,
and it’s clear the girl who learned to bait her own hook early in life
doesn’t need anyone to rig out a rod and reel now.

“I can rig anything from bream busters to open faced spinners,”
Smith said. “My mom, my sister and I go out of town for a week at the
time now  just to fish. We get to the water early and fish all day.”

It’s all part of a well balanced, well lived life.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *