Pay it 4ward: ‘Heart and soul’ of local nonprofit is recognized

[anvplayer video=”5047729″ station=”998127″]

MORIARTY, N.M. – A small local nonprofit is making sure absolutely no one goes without, and volunteers said it’s all thanks to one woman who knows firsthand what it’s like on the other side.

The Bethel Community storehouse was founded back in 1987 in the basement of a Moriarty church.

"Nobody should be without, here. Nobody should,” said Linda Smith, executive director at the Bethel Community storehouse. “Our motto is we’re neighbors helping neighbors, and together we’re making a difference, and it really is.’"

Now three decades later, the facility includes a thrift store, a community resource center and a food pantry.

"In the year 2020, Bethel served over 117,000 pounds of food, and provided that for more than 8,500 families," said Joel Lockwood, board member of the Bethel Community storehouse.

Lockwood said it wouldn’t be possible without their devoted leader, and so he decided to ask KOB 4 to help Pay it 4ward.

"Linda Smith is the heart and soul of the Bethel community storehouse. It’s through her leadership, and her guidance, her insistence on community service and her love that makes it possible for us to do all of these things,” he said.

He wasn’t the only one ready to spread the love with $400 – more than 2 dozen volunteers showed up for the big surprise.

“We appreciate you, and love you, and we wanted to say thank you by paying it forward,” Lockwood said.

Smith said she’s already planning to give that $400 right back to the community.

"My first thought was to buy school supplies for the kids," she said.

Smith says she knows firsthand what families are going through because she’s walked in their shoes.

"So when they opened the storehouse, it was just a little place down the street from my house, so I used to go buy things, check it out, I had little kids, and then my husband was in a really bad car accident, and so I had to actually come in and ask for help, and it nearly killed me, you know, just, how do you ask your friends for help you know?” she said.

Smith said day after day, it’s the people who keep her going.

"The kids, the seniors, I’m just addicted to it. I love to serve, and I love those people we’re here to serve. I love to hear their stories,” she said. "This is just absolutely the best community that I could ever even imagine serving.”

Bethel’s Community storehouse is handing out fully-stocked backpacks to this week at a School Supply Drive, in Moriarty. Click here for more info.