Don "Pepper" and Midge Smock of Coeur d’Alene are humble leaders in the community, encouraging generosity out of their desire to see the gospel go forward and lives change. They’ve contributed significantly to the growth and expansion of the UGM Center for Women and Children; they've hired women from the Center for business practicum opportunities; and they continue to live lives that inspire many people to see all resources as gifts to be stewarded.
In November, we sat down with Pepper to hear his heart for the community. He said, “What could be better than being a part of building the kingdom of God? UGM is doing wonderful work, through the people and the programs. And then there's the housing. It's essential to recovery for a woman to have safe housing where she can take pride in it, have a friend over, and still have these opportunities next door—this proximity to the ‘mother ship.’”
He's speaking about the Dennler Apartments—affordable, supportive housing for women finishing UGM Recovery in Coeur d’Alene—a project his foundation helped complete.
“My foundational belief is the concept that we are blessed to be a blessing. I don’t remember planning my arrival on this planet; instead, God kindly gave me this life experience in this time and in this place, with these people. We come into this world with nothing, then some time passes—it’s different for everyone—and we leave this life with nothing. The question is why not give away what you can’t keep anyway?”
“We come into this world with nothing, then some time passes—it’s different for everyone—and we leave this life with nothing. The question is why not give away what you can’t keep anyway?”
In wisdom and faith, the Smocks have consistently made decisions that benefit others equally or more than themselves. “On this planet, by God’s design, it will be in giving that you will receive. I’ve decided to work within that,” Pepper says, “not fight it. My wife and I have a view that everything between these two events [birth and death] are God’s anyway. We are stewards only.
“Jesus didn’t say don’t invest. He did say don’t invest in the wrong places. Don’t invest where moth will eat and thieves will steal and rust will destroy. Invest in heavenly rewards, in spiritual rewards, in people.” Pepper and Midge founded the local Windermere Foundation in 1995 which has since provided over $1,100,000 in funding to regional non-profits who focus their efforts on alleviating suffering and providing opportunities for improved quality of life. Union Gospel Mission is grateful to be one of their recipients. The foundation has also provided over 56,000 pairs of warm winter boots and socks to children in need.
Pepper says, “It's just people helping people. No government money wanted or needed.” And, “I notice if I give money, somebody else who’s been sitting on their hands will go, ‘I’ll give!’ When we give publicly, it is to inspire.”
“I notice if I give money, somebody else who’s been sitting on their hands will go, ‘I’ll give!’ When we give publicly, it is to inspire.”
The incredible way Pepper and Midge demonstrate their values every day brings us deep joy and gratitude. To partner with them in bringing hope to the hopeless and homes to the unhoused is a gift to us as well as the community.
Our partners make real change possible. Click below to read our January newsletter, detailing 21 ways our partners came through for our community in 2021.