By: Judy Sarnowski
“Smith’s Best” is a recognition that began in 2013 to honor Smith Care Center’s (SCC) staff role models. We consider these honorees to be our “Hall of Fame” — staff who have performed at a very high level over a long period of time. This is not a monthly recognition; in fact, since 2013, only 11 people have received the Smith’s Best honor.
On November 3rd, SCC staff, along with residents and Plymouth Harbor administration, recognized the 10th and 11th Smith’s Best recipients and first resident honorees. It should be no surprise that this tribute went to George and Florence Heitler!
George is Plymouth Harbor’s very own “Music Man.” His love of theater and music prompted him to share his talents and become a volunteer in SCC in the year 2000. After a decade-and-a-half and almost 200 performances leading sing-alongs at monthly birthday parties and holiday programs, George and his contingent of talented vocalists and musicians are now the longest-running entertainment production in Plymouth Harbor history.
George was no stranger to volunteer work prior to his move to Plymouth Harbor. He had served on the boards of the Chicago Public Library, the Henry Booth Settlement House, and the Longboat Key Democratic Club, and donated countless hours working with Meals on Wheels. Even at a young age, he wanted to be a man of the people and follow in the footsteps of his idol Abraham Lincoln. To that end, he received his law degree from Columbia Law School and served as legal counsel for the Army during World War II, and for National Blue Cross and Blue Shield, setting up health benefits for federal employees until he retired in 1981. Florence can also be proud of her volunteer work, which includes serving with the League of Women Voters and the Citizen Information Service, providing voter assistance to Smith Care Center residents, working with Meals on Wheels, and recording books for the blind.
SCC residents and staff consider themselves lucky to reap the benefits of such a multi-talented couple who had the determination and fortitude to make a positive difference in the lives of others. It is with great humbleness and gratitude that we bestow the honor of being the first non-staff members to receive the Smith Care Center’s “Smith’s Best” Award.