Yolanda Smith moved to Black Mountain in 1995 and began volunteer work in the community almost immediately.
“I moved from the New York City area and didn’t have the time to volunteer like I do now,” she said. “I became disabled and moved to the mountains and had time to do volunteer work.”
Smith has been the treasurer for the Swannanoa Valley Museum for the past 15 years.
“Yolanda volunteers countless hours with the Swannanoa Valley Museum every year,” director Anne Chesky Smith said. “Besides serving as treasurer, last year she covered more docent shifts, allowing us to remain open to the public for more hours. She volunteers more than anyone else on our roster. She’s extremely dedicated. Also, every August at the end of our fiscal year, she holds an enormous rummage sale of items collected throughout the year, which helps us to always remain operating in the black.”
Organizing and coordinating the annual museum rummage sale is something Smith has done for 10 years.
“It takes a lot of work, but I enjoy it and have a lot of fun during the sale. I also donate the storage space for all the things we collect throughout the year for the rummage sale. I also kept the books for the capital campaign for the Swannanoa Valley Museum, which required a set of books all its own.”
The language of numbers and to do something meaningful to help others motivates Smith to volunteer with local organizations.
“I love numbers and working with them,” Smith, who works seasonally for H&R Block, said. “Even when I was in New York I used to help people with their taxes. Since living in Black Mountain I found that my love of numbers and bookkeeping was needed by several different organizations. I have been the treasurer for the PEO (Philanthropic Educational Organization) that sends women back to school, and the district treasurer for the Black Mountain Woman’s Club. Being the district treasurer meant keeping books for five different women’s clubs.
“I have also been the treasurer and president for the Church Women United and kept the books for the Town Square project. I have served as a member of the board of directors for the Swannanoa Valley Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Corporation. When I served with the group that helped start the Black Mountain Beautification Committee, I felt that we were doing something that really mattered to the town.”
Smith said she donates an average of 32 hours a week of work for organizations in the Valley. She spends more than two hours weekly at the front desk at the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce serving as a volunteer receptionist. She also helps with the town’s Christmas Parade and Sourwood Festival.
“The personal reward that I get from volunteering my time is that I feel like I make a difference and at least help the community,” she said. “Volunteering makes me feel that I have a real purpose living here.”
Smith said that although she retired because of a disability, her health has improved. She believes that volunteering is responsible for that.
“When you volunteer your services, it takes your mind off yourself and what is bothering you,” she said. “Sometimes I say that I had to get a job so that I could rest from volunteering.”