Our Unsung Hero: Paying it forward

Posted April 28, 2020 at 4:39 pm

N-Mindy Smykle at sewing machine.tif

By Julie Ann Madden

Even though her husband is a cancer survivor and among those more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus, the need to help friends and people in the area was so strong, Mindy Smykle and her husband, Mark, decided to help.

“I have had a ton of help from people in Akron when I least expected it,” said Mindy who has been using her sewing talents to make face masks and isolation gowns for the Akron Care Center staff and other people whose children are in the medical field.

Not only did she loan a sewing machine to another woman who didn’t have one and wanted to help, Mindy has been doing a few people’s grocery shopping, delivering food to them, and making people meals, according to the person who nominated her as an Unsung Hero.

“I’m really honored to be nominated for this,” said Mindy. “This is amazing because you do it because you want to and because it’s such a great community.”

“It’s just you pay back whenever you can,” she said, explaining people helped them when her husband was ill. “I’m happy to do it.”

“That’s the wonderful thing about Akron and being in a small town,” said Mindy. “We all support each other. I’m sure there are other people (who are local Unsung Heroes.)”

“You don’t expect to be recognized for it but it’s nice when you are,” she said.

“I’m proudest of my Prom Program,” said Mindy, noting she has helped 283 girls, including 47 this spring, in its first three years.

Her Prom Program allows girls to come to her store, Mindy’s Designs LLC, and pick out a prom dress, shoes and jewelry for their high school proms.

“It makes my heart feel good that I can help families — not just the girls — but the families who can’t afford these $300, $400 dresses,” said Mindy. “When they come in, they pick out their dress, wear it to their prom, bring it back to me, and it doesn’t cost them anything.”

“It makes me feel as good as the girls who get to pick out their dresses,” she said. “It’s a two-way street — a win-win.”

She hopes that the girls’ proms which may have been postponed have the chance to celebrate prom — even if it’s like one small Iowa town that held just a Prom Promenade down their main street.

“I thought that would be so cool here (if Akron-Westfield’s prom rescheduled to June 13 gets canceled due to COVID-19),” said Mindy.