Gale’s Early Years
Gale Smith, founder and president of the Smith Family Foundation, is the ultimate dreamer. Like Hermey the Elf from Rudolf’s Island of Misfit Toys, Gale Smith also longed to do something different. In fact, like Hermey, he too wanted to be a dentist.
From his earliest beginnings, Gale was an outlier. A renegade. He dreamed the impossible. Mostly he dreamed of making others smile. And more than anything, he wanted to help people. Fortunately, he was blessed with two of the most supportive parents a child could ask for. He never heard the word can’t spoken in his house. Instead he heard his parents remind him daily that he could achieve anything if he was willing to work hard, put his whole heart into to it, and if he set out to make the world a better place. Inspired by his mother, Lucille “Lucy” Smith, Gale grew up speaking her mantra: The secret of living is giving.
Gale’s Professional Career
Though Gale didn’t become a dentist, he never lost his desire to help others and make them smile.
As he grew up he discovered that his gift was not extracting teeth, rather it was extracting the best and brightest talents from those around him and optimizing those talents so that others were able to work to their full potential. Gale was not only blessed with an incredible gift to bring people together and recognize talents and strengths in others, but to his own surprise, he had a knack for making good business decisions, learning quickly from bad ones, and ultimately, he was great at making and raising money. Before he could blink, he was a father of four beautiful children, married to an incredibly generous and giving woman, Laura, and the president and founder of his own company, Motion Savers, Inc. He turned the profitable company over to his son, in 1995. During this time he also created three more successful companies, Wellington Industries, Easy Lift Systems, and Smith & English I & II dba Toot’s Restaurant of Cincinnati, OH and Bowling Green, KY. He has since turned the reins of his companies over to his children and also invested in their own companies. Generous to the core, Gale literally “gave away the farm” so his children and their children could live abundantly and give back as much as possible.
Throughout Gale’s entire professional career, he made it his mission to add value to the lives of others and to learn how to make others’ lives easier—at work and at home—so that they could free up their time to do what they do best. His businesses were built on this simple idea: Things do not have to be so hard! He was constantly seeking ways to improve processes and discover the talented individuals to do just that.
Second Life—His Calling and Vocation: Doing What Makes Your Heart Sing
In 1995 after turning his company’s leadership over to his successors, Gale was looking for a new adventure. He was restless and not ready to retire. He had spent his life making money, and now he was ready to start giving it back. In 1995 he started the Smith Family Foundation. His hope was to help serve organizations and nonprofits that support youth worldwide. He had BIG dreams. He wanted to make the world a better place for every child, everywhere. But, he knew he could not do it alone.
The Pelican Arrives
In 1998, while visiting Old St. George Church in Cincinnati to meet friend and owner of the former Catholic church, Larry Bourgeous, Gale had what some would call an epiphany. Walking through the church, Larry, a theologian of sorts, pointed out a Pelican carved in marble, measuring two feet tall. Larry went on to tell Gale the story that has stuck with him until today. The Pelican is an ancient symbol of charity. There is a legend that states that a Pelican mother once stabbed her own breast so that her own starving children would be able to drink her blood. Christians, of course, appropriated this story and compared it the story of Christ, who shed his blood so others may live. Other legends have emerged over the years as well, but mainly the Pelican has become a symbol of abundance, of charity, and of life. A soon as Gale heard this story; he knew that the Pelican would forever be an important symbol in his own life—and it would be the symbol of his foundation.