It’s not every day that you mail someone a 208-page book, they read it, and then they call you up to say, “I’m in.” But this is exactly what happened with Fred Smith, Director, Stringfellow Health Fund Grants at the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama.
A copy of our book, Open Spaces, Sacred Places, first came across the desk of Jennifer Maddox, President, and CEO of the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama (CFNEA), who considered adopting the model to celebrate the 100th year legacy of Susie Parker Stringfellow — the woman who made a bequest in 1920 for what would become the Stringfellow Health Funds Grant, intended to improve community health and wellness in impactful, lasting ways.
With buy-in from their board, Fred hit the ground running, initiating, developing, communicating, coordinating, and directing the entire creation of not just one Sacred Place in their region but also 18 of them, spanning 9 districts. Thanks to Fred, an entire network of regional Sacred Places was conceived, funded, and hatched with a few short months.
The way we see it—Fred is a super-Firesoul of the 18 Sacred Places that are currently being created. He lends guidance to the newly-minted Firesouls hailing from communities of all different shapes and sizes, yet united in their eagerness to improve community unity and wellness in nature.
But there’s more to Fred’s Firesoul-ness. It’s the fact that he so wholly grasps and embraces the concept of a Sacred Place—and encouragingly shares it with new communities across the region. Through his words and inspiration, we’re seeing communities interpret the Nature Sacred model in meaningful, community-driven ways—in a whole new pocket of the country.
Photo credit: Maureen Porto.