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Thursday Portrait: Smith honored for leadership

Shirley Smith, chief financial officer at Andalusia Regional Hospital (ARH), has always striven to give to others what life has given her, but she has never required an award for her efforts.

Smith was presented with the "2002 Fleetwood Award" and recognized by Lifepoint Hospitals for her outstanding leadership efforts at ARH and in the surrounding community.

Barry Keel, CEO of ARH, said the decision to present Smith the award was based upon her unending commitment to her family, her community and her profession.

"Shirley serves as the chief financial officer," Keel said. "She has served as the CFO since my time here and before my time here. She's been here since 1981. Shirley's commitment and asset to this facility is irreplaceable. We thought she was worthy of the recognition because of the things she gives back to the community and not just work-related. Not just the work ethic. She is extremely active in her local church. She is always involved in something as it relates to volunteer efforts within the community."

Smith is a member of the Civitan Club, Southside Baptist Church, Cross-Seekers teacher and accociate director of Act Teen. She graduated from Troy State University with a bachelor of science degree in education and a minor in accounting.

Smith was presented the award during Leadership Retreat in Charleston, S.C., and was joined by several of her closest friends and colleagues.

Smith said receiving the award was both a surprise and a great honor.

"I guess the big two words would be speechless and overwhelmed," Smith said. "Jim Fleetwood has been associated with our hospital since 1987. I have known Jim in some capacity. He has been either with the company I've worked with or directly associated with the hospital. I knew the kind of person he was and his work ethic and to be put in that caliber was really an honor to me. I guess the thing that really made him stand out to me was it was more than just a business to him. He really cared about the people and it was obvious."

Keel said Smith is always looking for new ways to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of other people.

"She seems to never be satisfied with what she is doing," Keel said. "She is always looking to do more. She is always looking for more ways she can have an impact. For me, as an administrator, I think her efforts are something that should be recognized."

According to Keel, Smith never seems to bring her troubles to the workplace and she is always willing to offer a smile.

"She never seems to have a bad day," Keel said. "She always offers a smile. She is one of those employees I am sure you have worked with. I enjoy working with her and enjoy being around her. She has good sound business sense, outstanding character and a great work ethic -- that is something you don't find everyday."

Keel said Smith was given the award for her dedication and success in the work place and in her home.

"I think Shirley has raised two daughters and from the standpoint of being a working mother," Keel said. "It is not an easy task in this day and time. She has successfully managed the household she is a part of as well as managed the work environment that she has responsibility for. She has done what

I perceive as a very effective job of raising a family, being a wife to her husband and also putting everything she needs into her work to be successful."

According to Shirley managing a full-time family and job can be a taxing task, but anything is possible with love and support.

"Sometimes, with this type of job, you think your family sacrifices too much," Smith said. "I guess they have been real supportive. One of the great things about this job is that it does give some flexibility with your hours. If there is something going on in the middle of the day when they were little like a play, then I could go do that. It may mean that I would have to work later that evening. I really tried to do that and balance that.

Smith said her husband has very supportive within the family.

"Having a husband that is very supportive fights much of the battle," Smith said. "He helps me a lot, especially when they were little, with just some of the after school activities. They're really special. I try really hard to keep the weekends free because that is our time. Of course every Sunday we are wrapped up in church and those activities. I believe the best quality time you can have is when you are worshipping together."

Smith said her parents have also played an integral role in her success on the job and in the home.

"My parents live close to here and try to be involved as much as they can be," Smith said. "Having the grandparent's support helps out. One of the things that has been so helpful to me is having that grandparent support. It just helps to know that if there was that major deadline and I needed my mother to help me do something, then she was there. I guess over the years I had opportunities to go and do other things, but being able to stay close to family is so important to me. Even on those days when things are crazy I can step back to take a look and realize that things are really good."

According to Smith, her two daughters have followed closely in her footsteps and are pursuing careers in medicine.

"I have two grown daughters," Smith said. "My baby would be glad to know that. They are 22 and 20-years-old. My oldest daughter is the office manager for Doctor Goodlet. She graduated last December from Faulkner. My youngest daughter is trying to get into radiology school. She wants to be a radiology technician. We are waiting to hear if she has been accepted. My husband and I have been married for almost 27 years. October will be 27 years."

According to Smith, her goal in life can best be summarized within the lines of a poem she recently discovered.

"There was a poem that someone had shared with me," Smith said. "When I saw it I thought about a lot of my friends. When all this came up I thought about Jim. You know when someone dies you are usually given two dates. The things that really counts is that dash in the middle and what kind of difference you make with your dash. Jim really made a difference with his dash and I just want to make a difference with my dash. Whatever way I can do that. I guess being a Christian, my joy is not dependent on my circumstances. Sometimes when my circumstances get a little crazy, I just need to take a step back."

jeremy.henderson@andalusiastarnews.com