INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana National Guard showed appreciation for a civilian employer January 17, in Avon. The Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve presented the Patriot Award to Marijane Smallwood, of Hendricks Regional Health for her dedicated support of Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Spears’ family.
This presentation is unusual in that the recipient is the supervisor of the soldier’s spouse, when they are usually that of the soldier. Spears’ wife, Wendy, is an employee of Hendricks Regional Health where Smallwood is her supervisor.
The Spears family nominated Smallwood for the award when an upcoming deployment was going to complicate their ability to care for their daughter while Spears is away. Their current schedule allows Spears to be home when their daughter returns from school while Wendy works evening shifts, but during Spears absence this would need to change. That is where Smallwood comes in.
“Once my wife approached her supervisor with our situation, there was no hesitation in support from Mrs. Smallwood,” said Spears. He explained that Smallwood gathered the information needed, and contacted the other employees to adjust the schedules in support of the Spears family.
“Mrs. Smallwood’s actions, along with other employees’ willingness to alter their schedules, allowed the company to offer my wife a schedule that will allow her to be home for my daughter in my absence,” said Spears.
The ceremony took place at the Avon Office for Hendricks Regional Health, where an ESGR representative proudly presented Smallwood with the award. Though the ceremony was a gathering of only a few people, Smallwood was moved by the experience.
“We’re like a family here,” Smallwood said. “It’s something I try to do for everyone, so to get this award is very humbling. I’m very grateful for it.”
The deployment for Spears may still hold many hardships for him and his family, but the help that they have been given by Smallwood, and their family at Hendricks Regional Health, does not go unnoticed by the Spears family or the Indiana National Guard.