Mason G. Smoak Foundation 
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Graduation of  YLH Class VI 

October 24, 2011

Another school year has come to an end and along with it another class of Youth Leadership Highlands has graduated from our program. We had a wonderful year with 22 students from the 3 county high schools in Class VI. I am always excited to share about the program, the students and our experiences throughout the year, but I think you would rather hear from them instead. This year I asked each of the students to write a blog post for our Mason G. Smoak Foundation website. The following is one of these. I thought would give you a picture of our year and the impact of the program on the student participants.

Blog Post from YLH Class VI – Chloe Fordham (first girl from the left)

Going into the YLH program, I did not have an idea of what exactly we would be doing or what would come out of it. All I knew was that I would be making a bunch of new friends and doing good for our community, something I was definitely in for. I was excited to learn early on that we would be working together as a team, rather than doing things separately. From our very first activity together, the retreat, I knew that this would be a year to remember. Right off the bat we were a unit, all cohesive and wanting to reach a common goal. To me, this is important because I feel that the power of a group is far stronger than that of an individual. It would be hard for me to choose my favorite outing we went on. Each day had special aspects that were both rewarding and influential. At places like the Nu Hope Elder Care Center and adult day care we visited, I came out reminded that taking advantage of the time we have while we are young is important, as it does not last forever. After visiting New Testament Church and Mission as well as participating in the Grocery Store Race, I learned that being grateful for our surroundings and what we are fortunate enough to have is a necessity, since there are a large majority of those who are not as blessed. All in all, I have learned that in “little old” Highlands County there are a lot of people who need help, but even more that are willing to lend a hand. By going to these places and learning what they were about we had a better understanding of the good they do for the ones affected by them. This made me even more eager to do all I could to make whatever kind of difference I could, no matter how miniscule. There was no better reward than seeing the smiles on the faces of those we helped. This was the satisfaction that what we were accomplishing really was benefiting our county. This year’s class was not all work and business, however. From looking at racecars at the Sebring International Raceway to eating orange ice cream at Maxwell Groves, this year was full of many laughs and cool experiences. Some of my most fond memories with my fellow members happened not only in the entities we visited, but the bus rides there, in between, and back. Personally, I feel extremely blessed to have been able to participate in such a helpful program. Not only am I coming out of this program with new friends and fun times, but a better understanding of what my area has to offer, which is actually a lot more than I thought. My eyes have most definitely been opened to what exactly goes on in our little part of Florida, and I now feel that I have a new outlook on where I live. Having such feeling makes me feel both grateful and glad to have been chosen those many months ago for this opportunity, and could not be more thankful. 
(You can read all their blog posts on our website at


This year we offered an optional second year of YLH to our Class V participants. Twelve of the twenty participated. We spent the year working on a social services project for the Children's Advocacy Center, prepared and presented leadership lessons at their local high schools. (For more details and information read the blog posts from Bryce Langston and Sinhitha Raghuveera.) 

John F. & Susan G. Smoak Award of Excellence 

We are also very excited to have presented our first ever John F. & Susan H. Smoak Award of Excellence to a local nonprofit nominated by YLH V2. This year’s recipient was Hope Haven Transitional Housing Inc. with an award in the amount of $4000. We have been “Blessed to be a Blessing” and are excited when our students are able to participate in the giving back.

Thank you for helping to make this all possible! Together we are making a difference in the lives of many in our community and having a lasting impact.

Amy Smith 
Executive Director  

MGSF 5K & family Fun Festival is scheduled for October 21, 2017.

You can make your gifts in the following ways…to get your tax deductible gift for 2017 please have it delivered or post marked before December 31, 2017.
Ways you can give to the Mason G. Smoak Foundation:
1. Amazon Smiles - Go to this address for shopping on Amazon, and your shopping will benefit the Mason G. Smoak Foundation. Use this link for shopping:

2. Become a friend of MGSF by setting up an online recurring gift of $25/month.

3. 2017 Leadership Circle Campaign is underway - a gift of $500 or more. (listed in our annual report and on our website). This can be sent to the MGSF office (1025 County Rd 17 N, Lake Placid, FL 33852) or you can sign up at our website ( with an online one time donation or a recurring monthly donation. 
4. A gift of stock or securities - We have a UBS account set up now to allow gifts to MGSF. If interested please contact me at

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