By Michelle Williams
Carmel residents Mike and Susan Smith have received the Living Legacy Award presented by Legacy Fund of Hamilton County. Legacy Fund recently held its annual Celebration of Philanthropy event at the Ritz Charles, where the couple was recognized for their far-reaching impact in the community.
“We are delighted to honor Mike and Sue, in part, because of the breadth of their philanthropy both in Hamilton County and throughout Central Indiana,” Legacy Fund President Terry Anker said, “but their wide ranging interest is only matched by the depth of impact they have brought to their giving.”
The Smiths have supported dozens of organizations with their time, leadership and financial generosity — with education as a common thread through many of their efforts. In 2013, the Smiths offered a million-dollar, multi-year grant to fund Ivy Tech’s Associate Accelerated Program in Mike’s hometown of Lafayette, Ind.
“Education is a priority for our family. Broadly speaking, education is the enabler that makes it possible for all of us to capture our full potential and to realize our best opportunities,” Mike said. “I believe it is the ticket out of poverty. Multigenerational poverty can best be solved if we prepare new generations to break that cycle by making them better prepared to compete in our economy and our communities.”
The Smiths have always encouraged their two adult children to engage in their own philanthropy. The family now shares in the decision-making regarding their philanthropic involvement.
“What I believe that every young person should be encouraged to do is to think about others before self,” Mike said, “to have a selfless view of the world, but have a strong commitment to completing whatever task they are undertaking. Completing is so important in terms of obtainment of success in every life circumstance. I think it’s important to start with an outward look and make sure that a promise made is a promise kept.”