Looking back and talking with her family, she said it is funny how families cover up domestic violence and her family was no exception to that. Her aunt, who had five children, had been severely abused.
“Her story was a horrible story and I had grown up around it, but I didn’t know,” Smith said. “When you open your eyes you see it, but when you don’t want to see it you don’t have to.”
As friends, family and co-workers came together to celebrate her retirement Friday, she said many people had a lot of very nice things to say. She particularly remembered someone saying that she herself was the WRC, but Smith said that is not true.
“It’s all of those women that are ever working there,” she said. “The women that go there become the women that work there. It goes round and that circle is what the Women’s Resource Center is.”
Smith said the Women’s Resource Center gave more to her than she ever gave to it.
“The Women’s Resource Center is always going to be in my heart,” she said.
Harry Smith, president-elect on the board of the WRC, said his impression has been that there was no separating JoAnn Smith from the shelter and the center. She has had an extraordinary passion for the work she started doing over 20 years ago in the shelter and has consistently done good things with the shelter over the years.
“She so owned it in the sense that it was a very personal experience for her,” he said. “I just celebrate the goodness that she has given us all these years and wish her well.”
There are two things Smith said she will miss the most –– the staff and the women and children there.