Hartford teen volunteers to keep neighborhood clean

Siadel Smith, 16, weed eats alongside Highway 1414 in Ohio County. His younger brother, Joe, picks up trash behind him.

Siadel Smith spends about five hours a day picking up trash, mowing, and weed eating along Highway 1414 in Ohio County.

It’s not something anyone asked him to do, or that he is paid to do. The 16-year-old took it upon himself to beautify his area simply because he enjoys it. And for his efforts Siadel was recently given a community achievement award by the Ohio County Fiscal Court.

Hilda and her husband Jerry Smith adopted Siadel when he was 3-years-old. He came to them as a foster child when he was about 2-and-a-half, and had significant challenges, including cerebral palsy and autism.

Siadel, however, defied most odds and now lives a full and blessed life, his mother said, including learning how to speak and walk.

“He has overcome many obstacles,” Smith said. “He’s God’s miracle.”

Throughout their 15 years as foster parents the Smiths have had the privilege of assisting 79 kids, including Josiah, who is 8.

Siadel typically works alone when he’s cleaning up the neighborhood, but sometimes Josiah accompanies him.

“Joe does very good work,” Siadel said. “We do this just about every day.”

Charlie Shields, Ohio County emergency management director, learned about Siadel’s volunteerism from a neighbor. He drove out one day to check it out, and saw Siadel working one hot afternoon.

Along with picking up trash and mowing, Siadel also will occasionally fill up a bucket with gravel and fill in potholes.

“Nobody has asked him to do this. He just did this all on his own,” Shields said. “He just really wants to do good and help his community, and keep it clean out there where he lives. I think it’s great, especially for a teenager.”

Shields was among the Ohio County employees and representatives who awarded Siadel with the certificate of achievement. They also gave him a new grabber tool for picking up trash, some trash bags, and a bright yellow safety vest to wear while he’s working alongside busy roads.

“He’s a remarkable young man,” Shields said.

Hilda Smith said about a year ago the family was returning home from an outing, and she remarked how they should all go out and pick up some garbage along the roadside.

“Well, as soon as we got home he went out there on the Gator and picked up four bags of trash that first day,” she said.

Since then he spends a few hours each day working along the roads to keep them clean and maintained.

Siadel said he enjoys the work, and thinks it’s a good thing to keep the county clean. It gives him something to do while also giving back to the community, he said.

“I just like doing it,” he said.

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

Bobbie Hayse, bhayse@messenger-inquirer.com, 270-691-7315

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