By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer
Two local Bell Gardens business owners and community leaders were honored by the Bicycle Casino Foundation last week, during a ceremony where they were both presented with a leadership award for their years of community work in the city.
Barry and Susan Smith, co-owners of BG Loan and Jewelry, the oldest business in Bell Gardens, were honored with the 2013 Robert H. Carter Leadership Award during The Bicycle Casino Foundation’s second annual award and ceremony dinner. The Robert H. Carter Leadership Award was established last year in honor of the Casino’s Managing General Partner Robert H. Carter.
“Its an honor and a privilege to be honored,” Susan said. “Its just sad that our parents were not present to partake in this event.”
During the event, Barry and Susan’s parents Ethal and Al Smith were recognized for their years of service in the city since they opened their business in 1945. Throughout their life the Smiths gave back to the Bell Gardens community and decades later their children continue to give back to their community through charitable donations and community service.
“Im overwhelmed by the award,” Barry said. “But its not all about the money, its about your heart and giving back and being involved in your neighborhood.”
Both Barry and Susan attended local schools and eventually returned to the city of Bell Gardens in their adult years after finding their respective passions in jewelry and the film industry. Barry graduated from Gemological Institute of America as gemologist after sparking an interest in jewelry working in his family’s business. Susan attended Los Angeles Valley College and later Cal State Northridge University where she graduated with honors in film production.
“This town has always been home to me,” Susan told EGP.
In addition to operating BG Loan and Jewelry, both Susan and Barry support multiple charitable organizations and are part of various organizations in the community. Barry is the president of the Rio Hondo/ Vernon Rotary Club as well as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association, in addition to serving on various boards and committees. Susan is the current president of Bell Gardens Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the Rio Hondo Boys and Girls Club and on the board of the Rio Hondo/ Vernon Rotary Club.
Sen. Ricardo Lara was the Master of Ceremonies at the award ceremony and presented the brother and sister duo with a congressional resolution commending their work in the community.
“Not only are they local business owners but they are good community business partners,” Lara told EGP. “Tonight we celebrate Bell Gardens and we celebrate the achievements of two individuals who have long ties to the city.”
In addition to the leadership award, each year The Bicycle Foundation awards Bell Gardens students with thousands in academic scholarships. Earlier his year the foundation awarded the 2013 Robert H. Charter Leadership $16,000 Scholarship to Jenessa Quiroga, who currently attends Cal Poly Pomona.