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33407 “Black” History Memoirs
Denise Smith-Barnes


Denise Smith Barnes was born and raised in Sarasota County; she is a divorcee, and mother of five children.  She has resided in Palm Beach County for over 42 years, where she has been serving and contributing to the community as a pioneer and activist. She is indeed a true legend.

Barnes began working at the age of 15 with a passion for helping others, but her main focal point has been the elderly. Having a very active mind, she always found herself seeking ways to make a difference in her life and for the people around her. Years of experience and education afforded Barnes the strength and ability to assist many residents and organizations as a volunteer; which led her to become more of a Community activist for over 30 years. Solution-oriented and results-driven with a keen sense of commitment, has led Barnes to have a true impact on not just her community, but communities throughout Palm Beach County.

Barnes is the Founder and Executive Director of Creative Trend Setting Outreach (CTSO) Inc., a 501c3 nonprofit organization. The organization serves the elderly, disabled, and at-risk youth and provides mentoring, volunteering, and partnering with other non-profits. She has great pride in mentoring residents who want to create or strengthen their own neighborhood associations or coalitions.

She assists many of the seniors in the communities by delivering freshly cooked meals, providing minor exterior property improvements with the help of youth, conducts home visits or calls just to say “HELLO”. Youth in the communities has an opportunity to attend youth summits and summer camps developed and designed by CTSO and other educational partnerships. The camps assist in guiding the youth by providing services and support that foster the improvement of the youth’s “Life and Employment Skills.”

Both professional and volunteer activities have been Barnes's focus in servicing the community and serving as a voice for those who often are not heard by the power structures that shape their lives.

"Actions taken are based on the belief that safe, decent, and quality of life, are basic human rights," she said.

Creative Trend Setting Outreach (CTSO) Inc’s Mission: Improve the quality of life surrounding our elderly, disabled, and At-Risk youth and empower our citizen voices in the communities.


Civic Involvement/Volunteer Boards and Commissions


Currently serving as West Palm Beach Housing Authority, Commissioner (Chair), Paul Laurence Dunbar Holistic Advisory, West Palm Beach Mayor’s Nominating Advisory Committee, Pinewood Park Neighborhood Association (President), Northend RISE Board Member, West Palm Beach Chief Advisory Board and the Coalition of Courageous Citizens (Chair).

Formerly served in the Northend Coalition of Neighborhoods (2007 President,) Criminal Justice Advisory (Vice Chair,) Weed & Seed Advisory (Vice Chair,) Palm Beach County Re-Entry Panel, State Attorney Resident Advisory, City of West Palm Beach Housing, City of West Palm Beach Budget Committee, City of West Palm Beach Beautification, City of West Palm Beach Citizen on Patrol,  West Palm Beach Fire Department (C.E.R.T.) Certified Emergency Rescue Team, Graduate of the West Palm Beach Leadership Academy, and Front Porch Florida.

This story is part of the 33407 “Black” History Memoirs, a 2023 Project in celebration of Black History Month. View other stories here.

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