Citizens National Bank in downtown Waxahachie was a flurry of activity as employees set the stage for a surprise celebration to recognize Cindy Smith, executive vice president, for her 30 years of service to the institution.

It was all smiles as friends and coworkers slipped in the back door and made their way to the lobby in anticipation of Smith’s arrival Wednesday morning.

Chelsi Garcia, marketing coordinator, arrived at the bank early to help coordinate the surprise event, directing the caterers from College Street Pub and floral deliveries. She said they invited employees, director, past directors, friends and family to share in the celebration.

“We managed to keep this a surprise, we think,” Garcia said.

Caroline Ford, director of marketing, who has served five years with the bank, was tasked with delivering Smith on time without raising her suspicions that it was anything other than an average day at the bank.

“Cindy is really the backbone that keeps us all together,” Ford said. “She gives 100 percent and more.”

Attendees stood quietly grouped together trying to remain out of sight as Smith came through the front door. As they yelled, “Surprise,” Smith’s expression made it clear the staff had done a good job of keeping the breakfast a secret.

Mark Singleton, president and CEO, said he hoped Smith’s 30 years of service was just the halfway point in her career.

“Cindy gives us much more than we give her,” Singleton said of her dedication.

Eugene Head, a long-time CNB customer who has worked closely with Smith over the years, made his way to her side to offer congratulations.

“Years ago, when my wife passed away, she (Smith) took me under her wing and showed me her hope and her charity,” Head said, saying he was retired from the school district. “I only have 30,000 kids, but this is my only adopted one. She’s one in a million.”

Smith was presented a photo album filled with memories of her years with the bank.

“I love absolutely every minute of what I do,” Smith said. “It’s not work, it’s a pleasure.”

Smith said she was absolutely surprised and had no idea what the staff had been planning to mark her 30 years with the bank.

“I just want to say thank you. I get paid to do what I love,” she said. “I absolutely love what I do.”

Smith mingled with the crowd, sharing stories and extending a hearty thanks to everyone as attendees lined up to enjoy the breakfast buffet.

“She’s always there for you – a friend. She is an all-around great person,” Crista Williams, assistant vice president, said. “She’s a natural born cheerleader – always there for you no matter what. If we need anything, work or not, she’s there.”

Contact Rebecca at rebecca.hertz@wninews.com or call 469-517-1451.