Memorial for Community, Homelessness Activist Jack Smith to Take Place at First Congregational • Long Beach Post


Photo courtesy of Steve Be Cotte.

A memorial for Jack Smith, co-founder of of Better Balance for Long Beach and much loved community member who passed away suddenly on Thursday, December 15, will be held on Saturday, January 14 at First Congregational Church starting at 1:00PM.

A GoFundMe page was created in mid December by Scott Olson, who wrote that Smith was his best friend.

“I have known Jack for 25 years and what I know is that he was a person who gave of himself tirelessly,” Olson wrote. “[…]Plus he was one of the City of Long Beach’s most prolific and hard working civic volunteers.”

In a 2015 article with the Post about community change makers, reporter Jason Ruiz wrote of Smith’s motto, that “good enough, ain’t” and that you can always make a difference.


“One of my pet-peeves are the folks that think somebody should do something,” Smith said. “‘Parking is terrible downtown; somebody should do something.’ Well, hello—you are somebody.”

Smith was involved with the Downtown Residential Council, East Village Association and the West Gateway Community Association, as well as advocated for seniors and the homeless. Many will remember him for the Free Christmas Store, where parents and children could pick out gifts for the holiday with dignity.


Photo courtesy of Annie Greenfeld.


Smith also created a documentary about the homeless in Long Beach, titled Shadow People, according to Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless President Steve Be Cotte.

“[…]It truly showed the struggle, failures and triumphs of those living on the street,” Be Cotte posted on Facebook, remembering Smith. “In particular the story of a young LGBTQ male really shined a light about what it is to be young and gay on the street.”

Kraig Kojian, president of the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, described Smith as a kind, caring and intelligent activist in the Long Beach community.

[…]Always challenged you to think big, ask questions, be prepared, use facts and it was ok to stick w/your convictions, while listening to your heart,” Kojian posted to Facebook the day after Smith’s passing.

“Since Jack gave his time away for free, now that he has passed, he did not leave enough funds for his memorial,” Olson wrote.

The GoFundMe campaign funds will pay for Smith’s memorial, with the balance to go toward funding the upcoming Christmas Store 2017, to be held in his honor.

First Congregational Church is located at 241 Cedar Avenue.

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