By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)
Laurine Smith has always been devoted to caring for others, particularly the vulnerable among us. After graduation from high school in Salida, Colorado, she enrolled at CSU for its accredited social work program. Her career track remained true to her passion for helping others.
At CSU she was on the track team, competing in discus, and qualified for the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) nationals one year. While on campus, she found a group of wonderful friends in Allison Hall, and she joined a flag football team. She also attended games at Hughes Stadium; to this day, she loves Ram football.
Following graduation, Smith signed up for the Peace Corps. After learning Spanish, she served for two years as a nutrition promoter in Honduras, working with mothers’ groups in four towns in the region.
Next she moved to Pueblo, where she and husband Tony Petree still live. The first four years, she worked in the Foster Grandparent Program, leading and assisting volunteers who interacted with and helped children. She went on to work at several social service agencies, including Pueblo County Social Services, where she investigated child abuse and neglect cases. She describes this work as “hard but gratifying,” as it provided critical services to families in need. Her final position was at Bridges Child Placement Agency, which is part of the foster care system. Its main goal is to provide a safe environment while working to return children to their families. She retired this February.
About ten years ago, Smith took up quilting, a family tradition that includes her grandmother and cousins. She joined the Pueblo West Quilters Guild and frequents two quilting stores in Pueblo – First Stitches and Stitcher’s Garden. She has a long arm sewing machine, which moves along the fabric rather than the fabric moving through the machine. Among the quilts she has created are “memory quilts,” using tee shirts for the squares.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for masks became critical. When a Pueblo agency serving the homeless population requested more, Smith began sewing masks, becoming part of a network of mask makers associated with the two quilting stores. Securing a supply of elastic was difficult, but when the shortage became known, various people and places donated elastic as well as fabric. Among the places these masks were distributed are health clinics, nursing homes, state parks, Colorado Mental Health Institute, and Colorado Lottery.
Smith is a member of the Pueblo Ram Network. For the 2019 Orange Out football game, she led a drive to collect donations of fruit for Posada, a program for homeless youth in Pueblo. This Alumni Association member is, at the core of her being, a caretaker and a stalwart Ram.