Getting together at the YWCA appreciation for Barbara Smitherman are, from left, Diane Jordan (board member and incoming YWCA of Greater Cincinnati board chair), De Asa Nichols (board member and Mamie Earl Sells committee chair), honoree Barbara Smitherman, Barbara Perez (President/CEO), Sue Allen (former Mamie Earl Sells committee co-chair and former board member). Photo by Michael Mitchell
By Sophia Gilligan Helms
YWCA Senior Development
YWCA honored longtime volunteer, former educator and community matriarch, Barbara Smitherman, on Saturday, June 20, with a car parade past her family home in historic Avondale.
As the YWCA’s Career Women of Achievement season came to a close for 2020 with its television broadcast, the organization committee partnered with board members to thank Barbara Smitherman for her role as co-chair for their Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship. Nearly 30 years ago, Smitherman helped create this scholarship in memory of her good friend and YWCA board member, Mamie Earl Sells. Since then, over 200 young African American women have received this award.
The YWCA Mamie Earl Sells Scholarship Fund was established in 1993 to provide financial assistance and support to an outstanding African American female Greater Cincinnati high school senior entering a post-secondary institution. The scholarship is offered annually in conjunction with the YWCA Career Women of Achievement luncheon.
A committee evaluates and updates the scholarship application, assists in its distribution and promotion and selects 10 finalists, who include two runners-up and one winner. Evaluation criteria include academic record, personal challenges and hardships, ACT and/or SAT scores, letters of recommendation, class rank, honors and awards, involvement in extra-curricular activities and community service, and employment history. Applicants are required to write two brief essays, one describing their greatest challenge and how it has affected them, and one explaining what Mamie Earl Sells’ philosophy, “Lift as we climb,” means to them.
The 2020 winner is Thalia Grant, graduate of DePaul Cristo Rey High School. She will be attending the University of Notre Dame in the Fall.
Smitherman stepped down as co-chair last year and was to be honored at the YWCA annual luncheon, but that was changed to a TV broadcast due to COVID-19. The organization didn’t want to miss the opportunity to thank their dear friend and community matriarch.
Therefore, in the practice made so popular lately by teachers honoring students with a car parade, the YWCA decided to honor this former educator. Barbara Perez, President/CEO, and De Asa Nichols, Executive Board member and committee chair presented Smitherman with a commemorative Tea Pot from the YWCA.