Smith honored at Texas Governor’s Mansion reception

By LYNETTE SOWELL
Cove Leader-Press 

Tony Smith of Copperas Cove was recognized on Monday evening along with 10 other volunteers from across the state of Texas as one of the recipients of the 2017 Governor’s Volunteer Awards. 
Smith was named in June as the recipient of the 2017 Service to Veterans Award. All award recipients could invite five guests to accompany them to the Texas Governor’s mansion in Austin for a reception, which included informal tours of the public areas of the home, followed by a brief ceremony in the outside courtyard at twilight. 
A retired veteran, Smith works as a volunteer county-appointed Veterans Service Officer for veterans in Coryell County and throughout central Texas. He also serves as the commander of the local Disabled American Veterans Chapter 74 and is a trained small group facilitator through Bring Everyone in the Zone. 
There are several peer-to-peer support groups that meet weekly in Copperas Cove, with two being the groups Smith started that meet at the Copperas Cove Senior Center on Monday and Friday evenings. The groups provide confidential support and a safe place for both active duty and former military alike. Additionally, he helps support the peer-to-peer group that meets weekly in Gatesville. 
“To me, it was kind of a shocker, but it was great,” Smith said of being recognized and of the reception on Monday evening.  “It was the first time I’d ever been there. I’ve never been to the capitol, never been to the governor’s mansion.” 
Smith is not planning to rest on his laurels, but plans to keep continue his work helping as many veterans as he can. 
He said he would like to get a Disabled American Veterans group up and running in Copperas Cove, but said he needs to find out who’s interested in participating. The DAV group in Gatesville meets monthly, and the Copperas Cove group would do the same. Anyone interested in a Copperas Cove DAV group should give him a call at (254) 394-2091. Also, Smith said he and other volunteers will holding a DAV forget-me-not drive at Walmart on Veterans Day.
Other volunteers recognized Monday evening included David Godwin, who has performed decades of volunteer service in the Houston area; 12-year-old Micah Pinson, who has held an annual toy drive since 2011 that has collected more than 25,000 toys for Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas; the Fort Bend Education Foundation, having raised more than $32 million in grant funding for Fort Bend ISD; the University of Houston’s SURE Program; USAA; Granite Properties, Inc.; Haven For Hope of Bexar County; Erin Moody of Lockhart, Americorps member; Shelby Thomas, Alliance of Community Assistance Ministries, Inc.; and Allen and Mary’Beth Lohse, West Texas RSVP, San Angelo.
The Governor’s Volunteer Awards were administered by OneStar Foundation along with honorary chair, Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott, to honor the contributions of individuals, businesses and organizations in Texas that have made a positive impact in their communities or across the state through service and volunteering. 
“Greg and I are delighted to have the opportunity to honor the extraordinary service of these eleven individuals and organizations,” the First Lady said in a Tuesday press release. “I truly believe that we are each called to service, and during times like these, it is our duty to answer that call – whether it’s helping with Hurricane Harvey rebuilding efforts, or helping with the continuing needs of your communities, like this year’s Governor’s Volunteer Award winners. Because nothing is more powerful than Texans helping Texans.”
 “The response from our fellow Texans during Hurricane Harvey has been amazing, but the truth is, Texans respond every single day,” Governor Greg Abbott said. “Cecilia and I are proud to continue the legacy of honoring those who set forward and volunteer. What makes Texas truly great is the spirit that lies within all of you.”

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