In 1951, Dr. James R. Smith (one of only
five medical physicians serving the 40,000 citizens in the African American
community), during the times of sweltering Central Florida racial segregation,
established a safe and hygienic medical facility for African American women to
give birth, known as a “Lying In Hospital.” Dr. Smith, who with the help of
others, also founded Florida’s first and only Black owned savings and loan
institution. Dr. Smith additionally rallied the board of the Washington Shores
Federal Savings and Loan Association and friends of the community to support
his pursuit of purchasing and renovating the burned Roosevelt Bowling Lanes to
house his dream of providing a refuge to address the community’s childcare
needs. In 1967, he established W.S.A.R. (The Washington Shores Association for
Recreation). Dr. Smith continued to work to expand the services and impact the
lives of children and families until his death.
In the same year and serving the
same population was another individual with the same passion and the same last
name, Mr. C.R. Smith. C.R. owned and operated an area appliance business, and
later started a local chapter of the Tom Skinner Club, housing it in one of his
former store locations, to spread a message of hope to the communities who
seemed to be hopeless. Both Dr. James R. Smith and Mr. C.R.
Smith concentrated their efforts to meet the needs of children and families
during a time when segregation and racism was common. Leading up to Dr. James
R. Smith’s passing, even in its’ wake, the W.S.A.R. building slowly succumbed
to administrative difficulties. Mr. C.R. Smith felt called by God to
do greater works and service. With the help of Mayor William Frederick, C.R. started
to add to the service already laid by the previous community visionary.
In January 1, 1984, Mr. C.R. Smith relocated his operations from the Tom Skinner Club storefront location on Orange Blossom Trail and entered with the new name of Frontline Outreach, Inc. with his wife Estelle by his side, his efforts earned the words in his obituary, “Mr. C.R. Smith a man known as the Mother Teresa of Orlando.” Mr. C.R. Smith set the course for Frontline Outreach to become a bold Christian outreach community engine. This organization would be pivotal in combating racism during a time of racial unrest and navigate towards becoming a full service youth and family center offering services in education, character development, arts and sports.
In 2013, Bishop Allen Wiggins, the son of the late Rev. R.W. Wiggins and current Senior Pastor of The Hope Church, accepted the call to stand with those who labored before him and expanded the vision and direction to Frontline Outreach. Bishop Wiggins endeavors to coalesce the evangelical, social and community building efforts of all involved entities to elevate the entire metro Orlando community. Frontline was welcomed to the Hope Center West campus; a live, work, learn, play and worship community. Bishop Wiggins seeks to impact the lives of children and families, particularly the underserved, so they can reach their full potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens. He believes through leadership, entrepreneurship, academics one can affect their destiny; this is the L.E.A.D. model. The evolution of Frontline Outreach to fulfill community needs through expanding its scope of services, has continued to make this organization an incredible and sustainable community success story. The impact on the lives of our youth and families throughout the Orlando community continues to produce Ministers, Mayors, Judges, Doctors, Teachers, Artist, Athletes, professionals and otherwise contributing successful citizens, affecting the whole of Central Florida.
Are you ready to add to this story?
(Image Sources: Sep 1970 152 pages Vol. 25, No. 11 ISSN 0012-9011)