BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Gayle Smith volunteers three days a week at the LSU Mid-City Pediatric Clinic, formerly known as Earl K. Long Pediatric clinic. She also volunteers two days a week at the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store on Staring Lane.
She started volunteering at the thrift store back when crowds were thronging the place to replace everyday furniture, clothing and goods lost in Hurricane Katrina. At Earl K. Long's Pediatric Clinic, she's volunteered for 13 years as the book lady, helping children pass time in the waiting room by reading a good book.
Smith said, "If I have a mother with a very young baby, a week, less than two-weeks-old, I encourage them to talk to the child, to read to the child. And I give them a book. And the program has grown to the point that we can give a book to everyone who walks in that clinic."
Gayle loves it when someone donates popular children's books like Cheetah Girls or Junie B. Jones - stories that interest today's kids. Even if they don't have a natural love of books, she tries to win them over.
"When the kids come over and they tell me they don't like to read," she said. "I'll say what's your favorite subject? What are you curious about?"
The cookbook section is fantastic. And Gayle loves to cook so much that she spent 15 years volunteering for museums as an open-hearth cook. It's the kind of thing you'd find at a special museum festival or on a field trip day.
Gayle Smith, in her own way, is all about kindling that spark...either in a hearth or the heart of a child. That's why she is our January Power of 9 honoree.