A family portrait in giving: The Smith family

Giving: A great lesson for every generation

Riding a bike in the Bahamas brings freedom and discovery, especially as a kid. Exploring the island for hours at a time—playing on the beaches, harvesting fruits from native trees.

These are the first memories of nature for Fred Smith. 

When not on his bike, Fred spent his days on the baseball field with his father, who coached the team for many years. When hungry, they’d head over to the concession stand to refuel with ballpark staples. Though he can still recall all the offerings there, Fred remembers most vividly his mother and what she did. She would always be interested in those who didn’t have something to eat, the boys who did not have the extra money to purchase a meal. She looked out for them and ensured everyone had a meal. 

After school, Fred headed over to his grandmother’s house before going home. Where his grandmother would have a delicious meal waiting. She always prepared extra helpings to make plates for his friends before they all headed out to play. 

Like so many of us, Fred’s first memories of philanthropy started at home—modeled by his parents and grandmother.  “Helping people beyond yourself was introduced to me at a very young age. I didn’t call it ‘philanthropy’ back then, but it was philanthropy in its purest form. You’re providing from your resources to make a difference in the community of which you are a part.”

Fred has nurtured that seed of giving back throughout his life. 

Zion and Eden Smith on a family trip to South Africa.

Thankfully for Nature Sacred, that journey led him to be Director of Grants & Partnerships at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, who was inspired after reading “Open Spaces, Sacred Places” by our Co-Founder Tom Stoner. Today, Fred serves not only as a Firesoul (we like to call him our “regional” Firesoul) of the over 18 Sacred Places in his community but also as Secretary on our Board. 

With the birth of their daughters, Fred and his wife Rochelle introduced sharing and then caring to seed the foundations of philanthropy. “Our daughters are growing up in a home where they don’t have to worry about anything. They don’t worry about their needs being met. They have been blessed to be born into a home that thoroughly, and carefully takes care of them.”

Once their daughters grasped sharing and caring, they started talking about giving of their treasure—money they received or earned from birthdays, chores, report cards, and more. Each time the girls receive money, they determine how much to save, tithe, donate and spend. Last year, the girls added Nature Sacred to their list of nonprofits to support. They also volunteer alongside Fred and Rochelle on food pantry distribution days at their church. 

“Time, Talent, and Treasure. We talk to them about giving of their treasure, volunteering their time, and then their talent. Let’s hone that talent, so you can make a living while also giving.”

As a family, Fred and Rochelle support nonprofits that bring hope and healing to the world in some way or form. Reflecting on their giving to Nature Sacred, Fred shares “The pandemic showed us that everyone is looking for a safe space, a Sacred Place, in their community where they can go. To me, a Sacred Place means unlikely partnerships, community collaboration, cultivation of leadership, a place of safety and respite, and a community resource.”

From his own experience giving back and helping others to do so too, Fred reflects, “Giving is how you see life, not where you are in life. If you make giving part of your purpose, then you’ll always find a way to give at some level in some way.”