NORMAN — After 33 years of working at Women’s Resource Center, executive director JoAnn Smith has officially hung up her hat.
Smith began working at the shelter for battered women in 1980, which was only one of five shelters in the state at the time, she said. During those 10 years at the shelter about 5,000 women and children were helped.
“That’s something that I was always really proud of. We always kept track of how many women and children were in there every day,” Smith said.
On top of that, a 24-hour crisis line helped about 1,000 people every year.
Through working at the Women’s Resource Center, Smith has had some of the most amazing experiences of her life.
As part of a national domestic violence coalition, Smith served as a
representative from Oklahoma going to Washington D.C. every fall to talk to legislatures. She also remembers taking a trip to Mexico City to talk to women in Mexico about how to handle domestic violence in their country.
“I learned more from them than I have ever learned (here),” Smith said. “They had different ways of dealing with domestic violence.”
She also remembers being invited to go to the Rosebud Sioux reservation in South Dakota for 10 days.
“They were so gracious to us. They held a pow wow in our honor and it was the most meaningful experience in my life,” she said. “There were drums in the background and the president of the tribe told his story of the Little Big Horn and it was amazing. I’ll just never forget it. I wouldn’t have had any of those experiences if it hadn’t been for the Women’s Resource Center.”
Smith has been with the center, nearly from the start, beginning work there only five months after it had opened.