"He sheds light on this community every day. He is our sunshine," said Randi Banks, who studies the Bible with Smith.
Rube Smith has dedicated his life to the children -- all children. It all started in his Carson home. Rube holds Bible study at home every Wednesday, but the impact he has on this community goes far beyond his garage.
"I came and it was like life-changing," said Banks. "He showed us how to open up and how to respect and love others even though stuff goes on around here, and you may not like stuff that happens to you, but he's like, 'Respect and love them.'"
"This is not something that you pick up on the weekend. Since I live here, it is 24-7. They know they can call me anytime and I will be here," said Rube.
And he is there for everyone. Generations of families have passed through the Smith home. Rube has been a steady figure in his neighbors' lives, helping with family counseling, a warm meal, or simply being the one to show up at an afterschool program. His home is a safe haven for foster children and for single mothers struggling to make ends meet.
"His phone is blowing up all the time. If someone needs money for a bus pass they are going to call him, and hook or crook, he is making it happen," said Gina Smith, Rube's wife.
When possible, Rube takes the children on field trips so they can see what the world has to offer.
"I have exhausted my funds over the years," said Rube. "When it comes to a kid and a bill: later bill. That's just the way it is. Bad credit. It's just the way it has to be."
He's making a difference one child at a time.
"There used to be a lot of cursing, and people like little kids sagging and gangbanging and all that type of stuff but all that stuff is stopping, slowly but surely, and he's putting God in their lives," said Bible study member Tyree Evans.
So how did they feel when they heard that Rube was the recipient of the Jefferson Award?
"Everybody said, 'Finally.' He needed to be recognized even though he doesn't think so, but we feel like it's important, because he has really helped the whole community and other people outside the community also," said Randi Banks.