Sophia Smith, is the Founder and driving force behind Strong A.R.M. Foundation, a local 501C3 tax exempt nonprofit organization that financially assists women and youths for placement in guidance programs as well as Arts, Recreation, and Multicultural Activities.
The inspiration for Strong A.R.M. Foundation was born when Smith’s nephew was unable to wrestle due to his mother and father’s inability to pay $300 in fees that were required for his participation. Seeing her nephew sitting at home, frustrated, and left with nothing to do but play video games when he could’ve been out playing sports lit a fire in Sophia’s heart. Reminiscing, she says, “Playing sports as a youth gave me some of my greatest childhood memories and gave me many life lessons that have greatly impacted my business and personal life. I learned how to win and lose gracefully, how to be a team player, how to be tenacious with my goals, and most importantly, how to persevere through losses and learn from them. Youth sports is also what gave me my first taste of what self-confidence feels like. I truly believe with all my heart that participation in extracurricular activities is a great blessing for kids, and all kids deserve the opportunity to experience that blessing regardless of their family’s financial Situation”.
With this core belief in mind, Smith began looking into how many children in the Las Vegas area might be suffering his same or similar plight. Through her research she realized the need was even greater than previously imagined, in helping children, and felt an immediate call to action. Within a year, Strong A.R.M Foundation was officially formed and registered as a 501C3 and Ms. Sophia Smith has been blazing a path sponsoring youths into various recreational activities ever since. Eventually, that fire for sponsoring children into programming grew into a desire to assist at-risk women as well. Smith states: “In the process of approving applications for assistance for many of our kids that we sponsor, I was meeting so many women with heartbreaking stories. Some had just been released from prison, some were just recovering from drug abuse, or escaping abusive relationships, and all they want is a little help finding some of the resources available for them to help themselves. This was exactly what I needed at one point in my life, as well, so, this is exactly what Strong A.R.M. Foundation helps these women with”.
Smith’s life was not always about helping others. There was a time when she was in dire need of help herself for alcohol addiction. In speaking about the time in her life when she felt mired and trapped in a lifestyle of chronic drinking, she states, “Not only was I suffering physically from the toll that such a lifestyle was taking on my body, I was suffering tremendously internally, as well, from all the inner turmoil and drama that usually ensues from such a habit. It was a time when I felt really lost and, I guess you could say, utterly purposeless. In hindsight, it’s hard to say whether my drinking was making me feel purposeless, or if my purposelessness was making me drink”.
Thankfully, the solution to that profound conundrum came for Smith in the form of being in a alcohol program. The program utterly changed her life and helped her realize that living a life of service gave her more fulfillment and joy than any other lifestyle. A purposeful life’s calling was found as she created Strong A.R.M. Foundation and embarked on her mission to help as many women and children as possible find purpose in their lives through arts, sports, and recreational activities. Without the helping hand she received when she was at her lowest point, Smith doesn’t believe she would have survived; now, her life’s mission is to pay that gift forward.
All of Smith’s efforts are supported by the valiant battle cry of Strong A.R.M. Foundation: We Believe, We Encourage, We Support.
Jes Castor is a mother of three. She has spent many years working in the Las Vegas community, working extensively to support autistic children & their families: volunteering her time, donating her artwork to Artists for Autism and raising money to support FEAT (Families for Early Autism Treatment).
Jes’ youngest son plays several sports and she understands the tremendous financial burden it can put on the family. The benefits of participating in extracurricular activities outweigh the financial strain, and no family should have to struggle to give their children the best chance at success, growth and building character.
Jes grew up in a single parent family. She and her siblings couldn’t participate in sports due to the cost and this is one reason why Jess is passionate about the Strong A.R.M. Foundation mission. Jes is very dedicated to enriching the lives of children in our community and we are very lucky to have her with us at Strong A.R.M. Foundation.