Delisa Burnell-Smith, our lauded Vice President and COO, was recently recognized as the inaugural recipient for the Henrietta Napier Changemaker Award in Housing. Her decades of dedication to our community, and to the issue of financial stability for families throughout the greater Waco area, were recognized and honored. Delisa is proud to be seen as a changemaker in our community, and even more grateful to be included in the great legacy of Henrietta Napier.

Mrs. Henrietta Napier was the first African America hired to work as a Nurse in the McLennan County Public Health office back in 1954. For more than 4 decades, Mrs. Napier served our community focusing on the health of women and children. Many knew her as “The Shot Lady”, because she administered countless back-to-school vaccinations during her tenure, but shots were not her only responsibility. Mrs. Napier is remembered by many as the nurse who provided excellent care to pregnant women and newborn children in their critical moments. Additionally, she worked on tuberculosis control and home visits for clients who couldn’t travel.

Despite an accomplished career, Mrs. Napier is best known for the compassion, empathy, and generosity of spirit which she demonstrated to her community. Her attitude left an impact on the lives she touched, and many clients would return to what is now known as the Waco-McLennan County Public Health District just to seek out her assistance. Clients, coworkers, friends, and family all have a story to tell about the indelible mark Mrs. Napier’s life has made on their own.

We are so honored to have a NeighborWorks Waco team member and leader who can be compared to the fantastic legacy Mrs. Napier built, and we are grateful to the community—and to Delisa—for this humbling recognition. Anyone who has worked with Delisa will tell you that, like Mrs. Napier, she has an infectious spirit of positivity and a relentless compassion that has driven her for decades to spend untold hours working on behalf of families across our community. Delisa provides a level of service to our clients that can only come from a place of deep care. That is why, during her tenure at NeighborWorks Waco, we have provided financial literacy training to more than 6000 families throughout the greater Waco area, and more than 3200 of them have gone on to become first-time home buyers.

(Photo borrowed from Mrs. Napier’s Obituary)