Our First Hero


Lester Smith lived his life consistently saying "to whom much is given, much is expected." For those of you that may not know, I wrote the first grant for PRG free direct services to the Pinkwell Foundation funded by Lester and Sue Smith.  For those of you that don't live in the "grant" world, you don't typically get a grant unless you have long standing sustainable programs.  We had a pipe dream to offer free meals, housecleaning, rides to treatment and peer support. We hadn't served our first meal, cleaned our first house, or given anyone a ride to treatment..... Pinkwell foundation offered 20 grants of $45,000 to 20 different non profits, but only one non profit per state, I didn't think we had a shot in the dark.  I know exactly where I was standing. I had just finished speaking at the University of Dayton and I looked down at my phone - 31 text messages.  Pinkwell announced the winners of the grant on the Ellen show, PRG was a recipient.  WHAT?? We were all so excited.  Lester's note said, “I believe in your dream and thankful we get to be a small part of it.”  The grant was matched by our generous friends Thom and Pat Robinson.  Our budget of $100,000 was fully funded.  That was the fall of 2012.  October 3, 2015, Lester flew in to be our keynote speaker at Ignite the Fight.  We wanted him to see how the seed he helped plant was growing. He was fabulous, genuine, and just hugged our clients.  He waited until we hit the text to donate goal and then donated another $50,000.  He always said, "I love giving away money to folks making a difference."  Lester and Sue have donated more than 150 million. It is more than money. They loved making a difference. Lester passed away Thursday in his sleep. We are so thankful for his gift to us. As Lester loved dancing, we should all do something that makes us happy tonight in his honor.



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Ashley Robison