January 26, 2008 in Voices

Roy and Gayle Smith generous with time, service

Cindy Hval Correspondent
J. Bart Rayniak photo

The Spokesman-Review Gayle and Roy Smith are Good Neighbors in Spokane Valley.
(Full-size photo)

Honor a Good Neighbor

Is there a good neighbor in your life? Someone in you neighborhood who goes the extra mile to help others. Let Your Voice share the story in the Good Neighbors feature. Contact us by e-mail at voice@spokesman.com or call Voices editor Tad Brooks at 927-2164.

When you live in a rural setting, good neighbors are especially important. Marcy Britt said her neighbors Roy and Gayle Smith have made the 20 families that live on Lindgren Road north of Spokane Valley east of Argonne Road feel more connected.

“I met Roy when he started plowing my driveway with his little John Deere,” said Britt. The Smiths moved to the area from California five years ago, after Roy Smith retired. “I plow everybody’s driveways,” he said with a chuckle. “It’s fun. I didn’t do much driveway plowing in California.”

According to Britt, the Smiths neighborliness goes beyond snow removal. “In the spring they bring me fresh tomatoes, zucchini and lettuce from their garden,” she said.

In fact, raising a large garden was something Roy Smith had looked forward to however; processing the harvest wasn’t part of the plan. “We didn’t really want to be canning all the time, so we give the produce to the neighbors,” he said.

The couple enjoys their five acres and the slower pace of life offered here. “It’s been wonderful,” said Roy Smith. “It’s quiet and reminds me of when I was a kid living on a farm.” His wife agreed but added, “We’re 15 minutes from everywhere.” After years of California commutes, she finds it refreshing to spend less time in the car.

For the Smiths, knowing the folks who live on their road is important. “It’s nice to have visitors and see a friendly face,” said Gayle Smith.

In addition to snow removal and providing garden goodies, Roy Smith has found a unique way to help his neighbors. Each day he takes a group of kids from their homes to their school bus stop on Argonne Road. At one time he transported as many as seven kids.

“Now, I pick up three in the morning and take home four in the afternoon.” More than just the children and their parents appreciate his thoughtfulness. He laughed, “The bus driver gave me Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and said, ‘That’s for keeping the kids on time.’ ”

Gayle Smith doesn’t do the bus stop runs, but she does the baking. “I had the neighbor girls over one day before Christmas, and we had a cupcake bake.” To show their appreciation, the girls recently offered to cook a meal for the Smiths.

A couple of the teens came to the house and prepared a spaghetti dinner. “They said they wanted to do something nice for us,” Gayle Smith said.

Human neighbors aren’t the only beneficiaries of the Smiths’ kindness. They help care for their animal neighbors as well. Marcy Britt said they “dog-sit” for her when she’s out of town. Other folks rely on the Smiths to feed their horses. “They know they can call us,” said Gayle Smith. And when a neighbor’s cat began spending a lot of time with the Smiths, Roy built a cat door in their heated garage so the aging feline could come in from the cold and take a nap.

“It’s almost like a small family,” Gayle Smith said of their neighborhood. And like family members, when there’s a need the Smiths step in to help.

“I had a hip replaced in April,” Britt said. “They came to see me at least every other day.” When she was released, the Smiths picked her up and brought her home.

“You try to thank them and return favors, but they’re just givers,” said Britt. “I had a friend say, ‘If anyone deserves a pat on the back, it’s them.’ ”

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