A Tribute to Geoff: His Impact Beyond Hospitality Homes

        It wasn't until about six months after reading the letter he wrote to our organization, that I actually had the opportunity to meet Geoff Smith. He had already stayed with one of our Hospitality Homes’ hosts six times, traveling here for a rare condition called dextrocardia. “I’m the guy with the backwards heart, if you recall,” he wrote, “and I would be sunk without the housing you arrange.” All I could think, having only worked for Hospitality Homes for less than a month, was: ‘Whoa. Here is this guy, who has lived with a congenital heart defect all his life, has traveled for treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital six times in one year, yet is able to speak so humbly and matter-of-fact about his condition.’ In my mind, this man had the makings of a legend.

        When I finally had the chance to meet Geoff and his family, I realized that my instinct was correct. Geoff was in fact a legend. He sat comfortably in our small office, sharing stories and munching on pizza with our staff, son Silas and wife Terri. He didn't boast or brag about his legendary accomplishments as a ‘Ski to Die’ athlete, his travels to Israel with his wife, or work with the ‘Hoods to Woods’ program mentoring juvenile delinquents. Instead, he spoke about these experiences as gifts. Yet, all I could think was, what a gift for us to meet such an incredibly determined and fearless person.

        When I learned more about Geoff’s success with rock climbing and skiing, pioneering as an athlete in the Adirondacks, I couldn't help but wonder where he found his strength. Despite facing a serious health issue at the age of 10, Geoff vowed to remain active, and did so until he was about 30. Even after, Geoff remained a legend not just an athlete, but also as a teacher and mentor in his community.

       When we learned that Geoff had passed, all of us at Hospitality Homes felt a great sense of loss. We felt the loss for his family as a father, brother, husband. We felt the loss for his community as a teacher, mentor and legend. We felt the loss for the mountains that made his heart sing. I only met Geoff once, however, it’s clear from the lives he touched that not only did he view his life as an invaluable gift, but he himself was a gift to all he met.

      Below is a tribute video about Geoff, created by a dear friend of his. It truly encapsulates Geoff's character and the impact he had on in his family and community: