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Freda Smith

SALEM — Alfreda "Freda" Smith has been working on behalf of the disabled for half a century — and she isn't done yet.

Smith, 82, will receive this year's Ganley Community Service Award.

Among her many accomplishments, she was instrumental in the closing of the Laconia State School 20 years ago. "And there better not be any institutions reopened. I'm going to live to be 200 to make sure there aren't," she said. "They're an insult to humanity."

Smith's own daughter was disabled, and would have been 50 this year. She died seven years ago.

"I was just being a mother. I was trying to improve the quality of life for my child," Smith said of her activism. "And by helping her, I helped a few others, I guess."

Smith, volunteering at the Ingram Senior Center Thursday morning, was getting many messages of congratulations. "Even people I don't know are coming up to me," she said.

Smith said she was nervous about the luncheon, where she will get the award. She said many others are deserving of the honor and said she was surprised she won.

"Shocked," she said. "I said, 'A mistake must have been made.' A state of shock."

The award is given annually to a resident who has exhibited concern, involvement and leadership in the community while inspiring others. It is given in memory of former police Chief John P. Ganley, who died in 1989.

Smith will be presented the award at the Ganley Luncheon at the Boys and Girls Club on March 17.

Doors open at 11 a.m. and the program gets underway at noon. A meal of corned beef and cabbage will be served, followed by the presentation of The Ganley Community Service Award. The Andy Healy Band will play Irish music during the event.

Reservations are required. Questions or reservation requests can be directed to Martha Breen at 898-7709 Ext. 16 or via e-mail at mbreen@salembgc.org.

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