David Smith has announced his pending retirement from Center Point after leading the Gainesville nonprofit that provides counseling and education to local youth and their families for 25 years.
Smith’s last day on the job is scheduled for March 25.
“It’s been a good run,” he told The Times on Friday, Jan. 11. “I appreciate all the support. But, sometimes, you just have to call it.”
Smith has served as executive director since 1993 after first joining Center Point in 1989 as the part-time director of adolescence and family counseling services for the Christian Education Center, the organization’s former name.
Smith first was an associate pastor at the First Baptist Church in Gainesville, Fla., before moving to Hall County, a move he told The Times last year had changed his life in profound and positive ways.
“It’s been a wonderful 30 years,” Smith said in a press release this week. “I’ve always felt I was called to come here, and this community has more than confirmed my decision through its gracious support of me with open arms.”
Smith was honored with the Gainesville Kiwanis Club’s John W. Jacobs Youth Service Award in 2018.
Kathie Futrell, Center Point’s board chair, said Smith has led the organization through many changes, outgrowing its original mission and evolving to stay current with today’s most pressing needs among young people.
“As the Christian Education Center, our program originally taught religion and ethics,” Futrell said. “But over time, we added counseling, mentoring and prevention programs to take a more holistic approach in addressing real-life issues such as drugs and teenage pregnancy. That is David Smith’s greatest legacy for the youth of this community.”
Today, the agency provides support to Gainesville City Schools and Hall County Schools while operating independently.
Through the years, the agency’s mission and staff have evolved with a team that now includes educators, licensed clinical psychologists, therapists and social workers.
“Whether it’s drug addiction, underage drinking or mental illness,” Smith said, “we’ve always worked to provide a safe place to help youth combat the biggest threats to their success in life.”