Denise Smith was born in Harlem Hospital. Received her first bible from Riverside Church. When she received her first Bible, she knew that was going to be her introduction to her creator, her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. When she was six years old the family moved to the Bronx. There she was baptized at Walker Memorial Baptist Church, by the distinguished Reverend Joe Albert Bush. She was a member of the young adult Choir and fellowshipped all over the Bronx to many Churches with the Pastor because he liked taking his choirs with him when he traveled to other churches. Walker Memorial Baptist Church was originally the first Baptist Church in Harlem. Her grandmother was a member, her mother was a member, so it made sense for her and her siblings to be members. It was where she learned how to love God. She graduated from Walton High in the Bronx and then went on to Bronx Community College majoring in Administrative Secretarial Sciences.
In 1974, she met the of love her life, James Smith and in the year 2024 they will have been together for 50 years. After graduation from Bronx Community College, she became the Administrative Assistant to the Director of Human Resources in the City University of New York and decided to go back to school at night and in 1993 she graduated from Lehman College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Education with the intention of teaching those who needed alternative teaching, realizing everyone does not learn the same way. While going to school and working full time in the day, she spent as much time as possible volunteering to run GED (General Education Development) programs at Walker Memorial and various Community Centers because she knew without a High School Diploma you could not get a good job or go on to college if you wanted to.
Her mother used to say, “it’s going to come a time when you won’t even be able to mop a floor without a High School Diploma”, and her mother’s form of “time out”, was “go read a book”. She had developed a curriculum for GED preparation which really prepared the students to take the GED test with in six months of preparation. In her spare time, she taught ESL (English as a Second Language) as an adjunct professor at City College of New York. She always loved teaching. She believed in “each one teach one”, but God had other plans.
In November 1995, her husband who by then was a NYPD Detective was struck by a New York City bus, and after a year and five different hospitals, she was finally able to bring him home, although many did not think he would make it, because as a result of the accident, he had become a paraplegic, with no memory of what had happened. When she received the “knock on the door” that night their lives had changed forever. It was so ironic because when she received the “knock on the door”, she was trying to write a testimony for a Bible Study class, and she was asking God to give her a testimony. That night, and every night after, she began living her testimony. She was determined that they would live the best life they could under the circumstances.
She turned to her Bible and her God, and it was a blessing that she had already connected with God on a very high level, and it was time to make that relationship with God even stronger. They had always loved traveling so that was the beginning of learning how to continue doing the things we loved, but we just had to do it different. We traveled all over the world, places like Rome, Brazil, Mexico, most of the Caribbean Islands and most states in the United States, even Alaska and Hawaii. We also realized James could not fulfill his full potential in the city, so we started house hunting.
We were blessed to find a wonderful broker who found us a Custom Builder, and even though we did not know what we were doing, we just trusted in God to lead us in this endeavor, and He did. We built our house in Warwick by the Grace of God. The first order of business for her was to find a church. She visited many churches, but while they were building the house, they had ran into a woman who ultimately became her best friend, had invited them to her Church. The Lord reminded her of that woman and that Church, and she decided to visit it, and the rest is history, and that was now twenty-one years later.
She has served as a Steward under three Pastors. She served as a Class Leader for several years. She was Youth Choir Director for a whole generation of young people who are all grown up now and doing very well in life. She was the Director of Christian Education for several years. She has been a Missionary since 2001 and is now serving as the President of the Ida Bartow Hicks Missionary Society. Under the title of Missionary President and with the direction of God, her dream of a Community Health Fair came to fruition. This will be our fourth year, and the missionaries have their own prayer line, 1-605-313-5768, pin 227756, where everyone is welcome to join us Monday nights at 9:30pm. Through it all, she held on to God’s hands learning to take it one day at a time. She loves God with all her heart, and God has blessed her with a heart that loves people, and she knows “God ain’t finished with her yet”.