If your mission is to leave the world better than you found it, then you’d be in great company with the members of Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club (FSNEC). Since 1925, the organization has devoted itself to community service, honoring the nation, and creating opportunities to “exchange” ideas.
As the Club enters its 99th year, members are gearing up for a special season of celebrating those who share their same passion for service. The Club’s well-known Book of Golden Deeds Award – which recognizes unsung heroes who consistently share their time, talent, and resources to benefit others – will be presented at the 81st annual ceremony on March 8.
FSNEC bestowed its first Book of Golden Deeds Award in 1942. Notable recipients have included the late Fort Smith Mayor Ray Baker; the late Dr. Roger Bost, Founder of Bost, Inc.; beloved librarian, Louise Turner; longtime Fort Smith Boys & Girls Club Director, Jerry Glidewell; and Christmas Honors Chairman Philip Merry. In 2023, the Club recognized former A&P Director Claude Legris, who played a key role in advocating for the U.S. Marshals Museum to be built in Fort Smith.
“This is one of our area’s oldest and most distinguished honors, as evident by the roster of impressive citizens and civic volunteers who have helped shape this region,” said President Dr. Mike Thames. “Nominations are open to the public, and we encourage people to submit names of those who work behind the scenes to make the world a better place.” Nominations are due February 23.
FSNEC also recognizes local emergency responders. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Firefighter, and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Awards will be presented at a special luncheon on February 9.
In addition to honoring others who serve, Exchangites also give back to the community. FSNEC follows goals set forth by the National Exchange Club, with programs focused on youth and Americanism. For seventy-eight years, the Club has sponsored Girls, Inc. summer camp participants. Exchange is also an active Partner in Education with Beard Elementary School. The award-winning collaboration includes annual shoe and Christmas gift drives, pen pal program, and volunteering on campus.
Exchange Club promotes the world’s greatest democracy and those that served to ensure its existence through its Americanism initiatives. FSNEC hosts a “One Nation Under God” lunch each November. Members also take part in American flag distribution and education efforts.
Exchangites understand that one can’t make a difference in the world without being informed. From its inception, FSNEC became known for informative programs, which featured guest speakers highlighting local projects, non-profits, and other relevant groups. The format continues today, as members are educated about area needs, as well as issues of state and national concern. “Along with the exchanging of ideas, our meetings help cultivate mutual respect and fellowship,” explained Mike.
Fort Smith Noon Exchange Club has thrived for nearly a century because of its unwavering commitment to community and country. The Club is continually seeking new members to help carry out its mission and invites visitors to attend Friday meetings at noon at Golden Corral in Fort Smith. Learn more at www.FortSmithNoonExchange.com.