Christopher Smith, Board President
What initially drew you to the Center and inspired you to become a member of the Board? My involvement in the Center is tied to my family. 20 years ago my mother founded the CLB. For her, I would describe it as a passion project as her life was profoundly changed in 1968 when her sister (her only sibling) and nephew were killed in an automobile accident. The impact of that accident and the loss that occurred changed the path of my mother’s life and our entire family for the next 50 years. I was asked to be a board member 17 years ago and because I had experienced the impact of that loss on my family, I felt it was important to assist in the growth of this great organization
Share about the role you serve on the board. I have worn a number of hats on the board over my years. Recently I have been heavily involved on the Finance side but the last two years I have also served as Board President – tasked with leading the Board and working closely with Emily on all aspects of the Center
What has been the most meaningful part of being connected to the Center? The most meaningful aspect of being connected to the Center is just to be part of an organization that I know is making a big impact on people’s lives. It’s a hard thing to quantify because when you look at numbers like how many people have been helped with counseling over the 20 years (4,400) or how many kids have benefitted from either Nello’s corner or Camp Millie (1,700) it leaves you a little cold. Its impressive but you don’t get a sense of the emotion involved. On the other hand, when you look at the quilts at Nello’s Corner with the kids tribute to their lost parent or sibling it really hits you or if you see a video of the kids talking about the impact of the Center on their life you can feel the emotion. So it is the combination of both of those that gives me a sense of accomplishment for what the Center has done in 20 years.
What is one thing you would want someone to know if they were considering the Center’s services? I would say there are two things I would want them to know. First, you are not going to find a more compassionate, better group of human beings than anyone that you will encounter at the Center. Second, you have no idea of the level of expertise on the grieving process that this organization has and that you (as a client) will benefit from. We know that the Center is really the only provider of its kind in the Philly Metro area – combining all the different adult and children programs and counseling
What are your hopes for people who come to the Center? My hopes for anyone coming to the Center is that they can take advantage of the resources at the Center to make and live a better life after their loss. We know the Center is not going to bring anyone back or change the facts of the situation but by experiencing a relationship with the Center I would expect that a person’s life would be changed for the better
What are your hopes for the Center? My hopes for the Center are multiple. I would like to see another 20 years of tremendous impact to the community. I would like to see exposure of the depth of knowledge that the Center maintains to vastly more people and vastly more people in underserved areas where the pain is often deeper and more widespread. I am a person that is constantly thinking about “growth” not just for the sake of growth but for what the growth gets you – deeper impact on more and more people.
What words would you use to describe the Center? Caring, Empathetic, Inspiring
What would you want to say to our donors and volunteers, or anyone considering volunteering with us? As I noted above, the Center is making a real impact on people and the community. With 20 years under it’s belt it has shown staying power and in the next 20 years there is an opportunity to serve exponentially more people and more underserved people. If you want to make a difference in peoples lives than invest in the Center.