Rev. Denise Smith’s Story

Music has always been an important part of Rev. Denise Smith’s life. She grew up singing in church choirs, college chorales, and small Rhythm & Blues bands. She has written songs for the better part of four decades.  As an ordained minister, she even visits sick members of her congregation in their homes and in the hospital, singing to them by their bedside.

Ensuring that older adults receive the kind of care they deserve has also been a longtime passion for Denise. It started as a teenager when she was sent to live with her grandmother Esther. “It was so she could keep an eye on me,” remembers Denise. “But it turned out that I was her caregiver. Esther taught me everything I know about caring for older adults, and I am glad I was there for her.” In the years since she helped care for her grandmother, Denise founded “Be Our Guest,” a faith-based respite program for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia before serving as an intake coordinator for the Finger Lakes Caregiver Institute at Lifespan.

It was that same spirit of caring for older members of her community that led Denise to become a member of the St. John’s Board of Directors. “The first line of the St. John’s mission reminded me so much of what I experienced with Esther,” Denise explains.  “We embraced her life with vibrancy, and our life affirming relationship as grandmother and granddaughter. Now I have the opportunity to serve and care for more than just one person, and for that I am grateful!”

Now, a special event hosted at Brickstone by St. John’s will combine two of Denise’s greatest passions into one exciting evening. Under her stage name of D’Lynn, Denise recently recorded her first album of music. Love Liberates is collection of cover songs from artists like Etta James, Diana Ross, and Aretha Franklin. On Saturday, April 13, Denise will join a collection of musicians and entertainers at an event serving as the debut of her album. Proceeds from the event will support St. John’s Foundation, supporting long-term care residents with through innovative recreational, social, and spiritual programming.

For more information on the Love Liberates event, click here.