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VIProfile: Mary Esther Reed




BY KATHY FERRELL

Smyrna Mayor Mary Esther Reed is a lifelong resident of Smyrna and has served on the town council since 2003. During her tenure, she has served on the Parks and Recreation Board, the Planning Commission, as Vice Mayor, and was elected Mayor in 2013. She is a proud graduate of Smyrna High and Middle Tennessee State University.

Education is her passion. She served as a classroom teacher at John Coleman Elementary and Smyrna Primary Schools. She continues to support educators as the owner of The Learning Circle, an educational supply store.

Mary Esther doesn’t remember a Christmas that didn’t include her family’s participation in the Town of Smyrna Christmas Parade. Those memories, combined with a deep sense of community, served as the catalyst for incorporating a food drive with the annual parade.

Driven by the belief that public service is building community connectedness through neighbor helping neighbor, Mary Esther’s goal is to lead by example. “It is critical to find something you believe in and to support that cause with actions, not just words,” shared Reed. In planning the 2015 Christmas Parade with organizer Jill Strange, the idea that the parade could provide an avenue for the entire community to support a cause was born.

“We knew the need for donations to the Smyrna-LaVergne Food Bank (now Nourish Food Bank) increased during the holiday season, so we encouraged our residents to bring a non perishable item to the parade,” noted Reed. Town personnel collected 1,800 items from spectators along the parade route

Motivated by the generosity of the spectators and her experiences as a kindergarten teacher, Mary Esther believed this concept could grow. “I remember vividly what it was like to have a child come to school hungry,” she recalled. “Not just hungry because they missed breakfast, but hungry because the last meal they had eaten was at school.” In 2016, the parade committee decided that the fee to participate in the parade would be a donation of non perishable food items. Spectators and participants donated 4,523 items! “Our community embraced this cause and donations doubled each year, with the 2018 drive collecting 22,872 items,” Reed explained.

This fall, the parade committee decided to expand the reach of the food drive even more. Mary Esther challenged Town Manager Brian Hercules and the town council to engage Smyrna businesses and organizations to join this effort. The town has risen to the challenge!

“It has been a joy to watch the citizens of Smyrna connect in a meaningful way through this food drive,” commented Reed. “I’m inspired by our town employees, citizens, businesses and every organization that has passionately joined this effort. I’m confident that we will exceed our goal of 25,000 items collected to benefit our neighbors in need.”

Mary Esther is quick to credit Rutherford County for its collective sense of community, something she witnesses firsthand through her involvement in numerous organizations. She is past president of MTSU’s National Alumni Association and Blue Raider Athletic Association, as well as the Boys and Girls Club of Rutherford County. She currently serves on the boards of the Primary Care & Hope Clinic and CB & S Bank.

Mary Esther’s vision is to make sure that our families feel like this is home. “My hope is that by creating that true sense of connectedness, we are inspiring our youth to choose Smyrna and Rutherford County as their home; that if given the opportunity to live anywhere, they will choose to live and serve here.”

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