Spotlight: Amy K. Smith

2_Photo_of_Amy_from_2015_AAKD_Luncheon
June 6, 2017 01:31 PM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA Foundation

Amy K. Smith has spent much of her life giving back to under-resourced groups in society and those less fortunate than herself.

Known for being an outstanding fundraiser, Amy has donated countless hours supporting tennis-related causes and championing the leaders of tomorrow by helping them maintain active and well-rounded lifestyles on and off the court.

Amy has served as the chairman of the USTA National NJTL Committee since 2015 and she is also a member of the board of directors for the USTA Foundation, a co-chair of the Disbursements Committee and a member of the Fund Development Committee. Sheserved on National Junior Tennis and Learning of Trenton’s board of directors from 1998 through 2014 and served as NJTL of Trenton’s president from 2002 to 2012.  

The USTA Foundation spoke with Amy about her background in tennis and community service.

How did you first become involved in tennis?

Amy K. Smith: I became involved in the sport of tennis when I was in my early 30s. After I had my second child, I met someone who was a tennis pro, and she said she would give me some lessons. I don’t do anything half way, so, of course, I started playing three hours a day, every day. I loved it. I joined a league and became a 4.5 player.

How did you become aware of the USTA Foundation and the work the Foundation does?

Smith: I started in the NJTL world, through my local tennis relationships and I became involved with NJTL of Trenton and started fundraising for them. I became the board president and transitioned the organization from all-volunteer to staff run. Then I became a national volunteer for the NJTL committee, and I was vice chair of the committee when the NJTL and the USTA Foundation merged in 2014.

I was part of a team of six people, led by board president Tom Chen, who helped with the merger and worked to restructure the Foundation. Through this, I became totally immersed in making the merger work and making the Foundation and its mission crystal clear and viable, and it became my passion.

What made you first want to become involved in the NJTL when you began volunteering in 1993?

Smith: The town where I live, Princeton, NJ, is a part of Mercer County. There is a unbelievable disparity in wealth between our community, and that of Trenton, NJ, just a few miles down the road. This difference really bothers me. I feel so blessed to live in a wealthy community like Princeton, but right next door is one of the most dangerous and poorest cities in America – this is not something that I could ever be passive about.

Why is that so important to you to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged youth?

Smith: I was a camp counselor, and everything I had done prior to becoming a mother and tennis player was recreation-oriented. I saw the value in recreation, particularly for children that didn’t do well in school, because it provided another outlet. I come from a family who always believed that giving was a social responsibility.

What other ways have you been involved in tennis?

Smith: I went from being a club player to buying a club [the Hopewell Valley Tennis Center and Swim Center]. That was how enthusiastic I was about tennis. I ran the club and it was a great social outlet. I enjoyed playing and I enjoyed making my club into a great social environment in the area.

I retired in 2001, and after that time I became so involved on the national level, around 2008, that I gave up all my other charitable activities to laser focus on NJTL and the USTA Foundation. I am the co-chair of the disbursements committee with Judy Levering. It’s about really knowing the organizations we are giving grants to. I do a lot of field work, and I want to know where the Foundation’s money goes and where its donors’ money goes.

Can you share your favorite story about working with the USTA Foundation?

Smith: The people I meet through the USTA Foundation and the social relationships I have made have really enriched my life. I have enriched the lives of children, but my life has been enriched by my participation in the Foundation. This was completely unexpected. I was at a point in my life where even though I have grown children, I was still active and young, and I wasn’t ready to retire. I still need more than just being a grandmother. This has become a second career for me. I’ve met people from all across the country who do the exact same thing, and I really enjoy working with all the people involved.

There are so many worthwhile charities out there. What would you say to someone who is considering a donation to the USTA Foundation?

Smith: I talk to a lot of the donors. I talk about the kids and how I believe that the combination of recreation through tennis and educational opportunities is a really important thing. The work that the USTA Foundation does is helping strengthen at risk communities around the country.

 

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