The double honorees of July's Community of Character trait have made the quality of dependability a family affair.
No matter what the call, emergency or situation, Cindy Smith, executive director of the Orangeburg County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and her husband, John, director of the Orangeburg County Emergency Services, exemplify this month's trait of dependability, Community of Character board member and Orangeburg's DPS Chief Wendell Davis said.
"I think the recognition of John and Cindy is appropriate due to their consistency," Davis said. "When we have an emergency, they're always there. Their career history is an advantage in that they have been there for so long, and if we are comfortable, we could take them for granted."
That history encompasses three decades and dates back to the latter days of America's involvement in Vietnam and the Nixon administration. Cindy Smith said her first training course during the era of Woodstock, Watergate and war protesters sparked the desire to help those in need.
"I took a course under a Red Cross instructor, and he just ignited a fire that just kept growing with more classes," Cindy said. "That was in 1971."
John attributes the couple's longevity and perseverance to a sincere desire to help those in need.
"The important thing is you have to love your job," John said. "We love very much what we're doing. We've found that we can contribute something, and that's what we love doing."
That love to help their fellow man can be seen any time an emergency arises. From car accidents to chemical spills, these two are always present.
Community of Character board member Bernice Tribble said Orangeburg County can always count on the pair in a time of need.
"I think if you know of them here, it just seems that both of them are involved at every emergency in our county," Tribble said. "You can count on them when we call them in emergency situations."
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When the two married in 1973, two individual sets of helping hands became a united four. In the following years, a daughter, Jennifer, was born to the couple. While family time may take a large portion of time others may be able to offer, this couple simply took the family with them.
"It's kind of strange that a family would be involved in this," Cindy said. "We laugh about it, but Jennifer says a lot of our quality (family) time has been spent on side of the road."
"I know I had to tag along, and that's what got me into (Orangeburg's) DPS," said their daughter, Jennifer Haig.
"I guess a family that goes to disasters together stays together," Haig said while laughing.
John said the couple would be remiss if mention was not made of their respective staff and crews. John said without their support, the Smiths would be unable to render aid to the county.
As to the award, both Smiths said while their motivation lay simply in helping others, it was an honor to know others appreciated those efforts.
"It's all the more satisfying to be thought about," Cindy said. "It's nice to have your work recognized."
"They could be taken for granted," Davis said. "You expect them to always be there, and if they are not, then you know something is not right. This is just a way of recognizing what they do."
"It's just an honor, and I greatly appreciate that we got this," John said. "It's simply a matter of doing our jobs."