News & Press: Member Highlights

Parkway Place Member Crafts Wooden Chairs and Toys for Children in Need

Tuesday, November 13, 2018   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Julianna Ems
Share |

Giving back has been a lifelong passion for Paul Smith. The 84-year-old Parkway Place member spent more than 30 years as a missionary in the Middle East, and he now dedicates his time making wooden chairs and toys for children in need. Smith spends his time in the workshop at the senior living community perfecting a craft he finds extremely gratifying. So far, he has made nearly 30 chairs and dozens of toys that he has donated to children. The chairs require no nails or screws and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. They were originally called “puzzle chairs,” but Smith renamed them “gospel chairs” because a cross pin holds each one together. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into each chair, which takes Smith about 12 hours to make. He then donates the chairs to local organizations. As for the toys, they are mostly wooden cars, and he donates them to the hospitality house at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville so young children have something to play with when visiting family members.

“When I was overseas, I did a little woodworking if I could get my hands on the materials,” said Smith. “When we returned to the U.S. and moved to Oklahoma, I decided to build a home on Lake Eufaula. It took me three years to build it, but I did it on my own and it was our dream home. That’s when I really started getting into woodworking. After moving to Texas and seeing the chair I made my granddaughter almost 20 years ago, I was inspired to start making the chairs again. It’s my passion to give back, and that is why I will never sell a chair or a toy. I enjoy knowing the chair goes to a child in need. I’ve donated to orphanages and other local organizations, and I hope to grow the list of organizations in the future. The toys entertain children during a difficult time in their lives. It’s never easy going to a prison, so if I can put a smile on the face of a child, the hours spent making the toy are well worth it.”

The workshop gives members like Smith a creative outlet for their skills and allows them to work on what they love or learn a new hobby while giving back to the surrounding community. Smith says woodworking is also therapeutic, and he plans to continue going to the shop as often as he can. The senior living community encourages members to discover their interests and engage in all the activities the community has to offer.

“Paul is a wonderful man who has given so much to other people and never expects anything in return,” said Susan Phelps, executive director at Parkway Place. “We are blessed he calls Parkway Place home, and his beautiful chairs and toys will make any child jump for joy when they see them. Knowing the process he goes through to make these items is truly amazing. His attention to detail is impeccable, and the time and effort he puts into this craft is inspiring. He has really outdone himself, but we know he’s far from done. We cannot wait to see what else he has in store.”


Paul Smith, Parkway Place Member

Parkway Place in Houston, a Buckner Retirement Services community, is a nonprofit, faith-based senior living community located on a 15-acre manicured campus that includes flowers, walking paths, gazebos, benches and raised gardens, putting green, as well as an outdoor heated pool and spas. It is also one of the few Independent Living communities in West Houston that has no entrance fees or long-term contracts and provides spacious apartment residences on a rental basis. As a life plan community, Parkway Place offers Independent Living apartment residences, spacious Assisted Living, and innovative Memory Care and Skilled Nursing services.

At Parkway Place, members can enjoy delicious dining and warm fellowship in beautifully arranged dining rooms, as well as maintain active lifestyles at the wellness center.  The community also has an on-site life enrichment coordinator, chapel, full-time chaplain, on-site worship services, beauty/barber salon and weekly housekeeping/linen service. For more information about Parkway Place, please visit the community website at or call (281) 677–5912.

Buckner Retirement Services, Inc. is one of the largest not-for-profit senior living organizations in Texas dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for senior adults and their families by promoting an active, healthy Christian lifestyle while maintaining their independence and dignity. Buckner Retirement Services is part of Buckner International, a global faith-based ministry serving people each year in the United States and worldwide.


Contact: Chelsi Smith/Amy Jones, The Point Group.                                         
Phone: 214-378-7970 ext. 238/302                                                                      
Mobile: 956-358-3300 / 469-261-7544 /


Wes Wells, Morningside Ministries at The Meadows says...
Posted Monday, November 19, 2018
Love it! I have been to the Smith's apartment and seen the toy maker at work. Such wonderful people. How lucky are we ALL to get to spend life with such incredibly selfless people! I am adding the residents/friends we have at our communities as something I am thanking God for this week of Thanksgiving!