Helping others is in Smith's blood

November 25, 2005|by TIFFANY ARNOLD

HAGERSTOWN - Toni Smith's life revolves around helping others. Maybe, it's just in her blood.

Her father, Andy Smith, is president of Brothers United Who Dare to Care, a Hagerstown-based nonprofit that advocates social parity for minorities and other disenfranchised groups, such as the poor.

He's seen as a mentor for young boys who go to the center for computer training, Toni Smith said.

"He's always doing something for somebody," she said.

In many regards, Smith, 18, of Hagerstown, is following in her father's footsteps.

She recently became involved with her father's organization, where she serves as the outreach coordinator. Her main job is to educate the public about the health disparities among blacks and poor people.

Smith, a North Hagerstown High School graduate, tells people where they can go to get help. She said many health disparities exist because people think health-care options for low-income people don't exist.


"People don't know about the resources out there," she said. "Many of them lose hope of getting the medicines they need."

In addition to volunteering with Brothers United Who Dare to Care, Smith works with the local Girl Scouts council.

"The older girls are looking for older mentors," said Jane Barvir, membership outreach director for the Girl Scouts of Shawnee Council. "So to have a young woman in college is very important. To have someone step up to the plate like she has, that's great."

Barvir said she met Smith at the Memorial Recreation Center when Smith was in seventh grade. Barvir said she would like to see more young women volunteer because young girls are better able to relate to "teen savvy" adults.

Smith said many of the girls in her troop come from unstable situations. She often has to lead by example and has taken several girls under her wing.

"Some girls just don't have respect for themselves," Smith said.

Smith said she also wants to reach out to boys. Though there's already a lack of male role models for boys, Toni said women should be the ones telling them how to respect other women.

She also wants to show them that there are alternatives to selling drugs in the streets.

"These young boys are getting into drugs, looking to these older guys," she said. "You don't need drugs to get that quick money and have a life."

Smith said her current volunteer title surprises some of her friends. They hear "brothers" in the name Brothers United Who Dare to Care and assume it's just for men.

"Really, we're here for everybody," Smith said. "Me working through them is making my voice heard more."

Andy Smith declined to comment for this story.

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