Film on Habitat volunteer has debut

February 28, 2007 

Pat Smith was great at starting and finishing things, a Habitat for Humanity representative said yesterday before the premiere of a documentary paying tribute to the longtime volunteer and his work.

Smith, 58, died with 48 others when Comair Flight 5191 crashed near Blue Grass Airport Aug. 27. He was traveling to Gulfport, Miss., to build 13 houses on the Gulf Coast for victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The documentary produced by Travis Jones, a Lexington native who lives in Los Angeles, premiered at the Kentucky Theatre last night to a crowd of nearly 200.

It opened with images from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Nearly 500,000 homes were destroyed, according to one statistic in the film.

"Pat Smith said helping one family at a time is what it's all about," a Habitat volunteer says in the film.

Jones documented a group building homes in Gulfport, and finishing a project Smith started, during the week of Thanksgiving last year, weeks after Smith's death.

Smith served on the Habitat for Humanity International Board of Directors, was a past president and was once named volunteer of the year.

He had organized missions to places including Sri Lanka, South Africa and Mexico.

Footage in the film shows Smith reflecting on the devastation after Hurricane Katrina.

"You wonder how it will all get rebuilt," Smith said.

Former President Jimmy Carter also talks during the film to a group of volunteers about Habitat and the homes built nationally and internationally.

A woman named Jackie, who works at a hospital in Gulfport, planned to move into one of the new homes with her son, daughter and six grandchildren.

"It's coming out wonderful," she said of the four-bedroom, two-bath house.

Pat Smith's son, Brian, said it was "a Thanksgiving we'll never forget," near the end of the half-hour film.

Relatives said Pat Smith would have wanted the project completed.

"And I think we pulled through and we did that," Brian Smith said.

After the premiere, Habitat representatives noted an endowment created in memory of Smith, which helped pay for yesterday's event. The Pat Smith Habitat for Humanity Endowment Fund will pay for projects in Lexington and internationally and support Habitat volunteers.

Pat Smith

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