When I learned that Riverpark Farm was going to be working with Smile Farms, my concerns were what you would expect from someone who has never worked with adults with developmental disabilities before. How is this person going to fit in with the team? How much extra attention will they need? How productive will they be? I understood that creating an opportunity for Kevin would be a positive thing for him, but I hadn’t realized the impact that his positivity would have on me.
Like most jobs, even urban farming can grow to be monotonous and tedious. With the demands of production goals and the uniformity of routine, it can be easy to overlook the excitement of germination, the color of the flowers, the sound of the birds, the smell of the rain, and the victory of the harvest. Kevin shines a light on all of those things.
Kevin’s biggest contribution to Smile Farms at Riverpark Farm has been his attitude. He shows up every day with a smile that always proves to be contagious. The mood amongst the entire farm staff lightens when Kevin shows up. He is always happy to get started with whatever task I put in front of him. More than anything, Kevin wants to know that he has done a good job. He is always eager to show off the work that he has done.
Kevin’s second biggest contribution is his sense of wonder. This also happens to be what distracts him the most. Kevin is often distracted by the very things that I wish I noticed more of throughout my day. He often calls me over to talk about the difference in color on the front and back of a butterflies wings, the amount of growth of a particular plant from the previous day, or how a particular herb smells different when it’s wet. If he isn’t calling me over to tell me these things, he is calling me over to answer his questions. He wants to know the gender of the insects, how long their lifespans are, and where they live. Why are these flowers yellow but those flowers are white?
Kevin's unique characteristics have proven to be very valuable. I believe that people work harder when they are happy and engaged with wonder at the task at hand and Kevin helps my entire staff achieve that mindset.
I look forward to having Kevin back at Smile Farms at Riverpark Farm in the spring and I am so grateful to be able to contribute in providing him with meaningful work.
Farm Manager, Smile Farms at Riverpark Farm
Cerini & Associates LLP created the Long Island Imagine Awards to showcase the nonprofit sector’s work and provide opportunities for deeper collaboration within the sector. More than 165 applications were submitted for consideration in five categories, including Social Impact, Leadership, Arts & Culture, Innovation, and Rising Star. Smile Farms was selected as one of eight semi-finalists in the Rising Star category.
“We are honored to be a semi-finalist in the 7th Annual Imagine Awards and proud to be part of an extraordinary group of dedicated nonprofits working together to strengthen communities, said Jennifer Carpenter-Low, Vice President, Smile Farms.” “Smile Farms provides employment to people with developmental disabilities in agricultural settings – one job at a time.”
The Rising Star Award recognizes nonprofits for outstanding innovation, impact, and achievements in meeting its mission. Imagine Award winners will be announced at the awards gala at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Tuesday, April 30, 2019.
Each year, Alexandria Real Estate Equities (ARE) selects a worthy non-profit to benefit from its Annual Chips for Charity Holiday Party. Smile Farms was honored to be chosen as their 2018 recipient, along with Children of Bellevue. Earlier this year, ARE partnered with Smile Farms and the Center for Family Support to employee 2 individuals with developmental disabilities at the Riverpark Farm in New York, NY. We are so grateful to ARE for their ongoing support and generosity this holiday season.
At 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., we’re in the business of delivering smiles – in fact, it’s the mission of our company. We believe that an integral part of how we accomplish this mission is by giving back to the communities we serve.
Our company’s signature philanthropic partner is Smile Farms, a national non-profit organization providing meaningful employment in agricultural settings to adults with developmental disabilities. The organization serves hundreds of adults and children with developmental disabilities across seven campuses – and counting. You can learn more about this wonderful organization here.
This holiday season, for the first time ever, we’ve launched a special holiday gift collection benefiting Smile Farms. The collection features a curated selection of items from across our family of brands. For each gift purchased from the collection now through December 24, our company will donate 20% of the Net Proceeds from each item to Smile Farms.
As you check off items on your gift list in the days ahead, we hope you’ll consider helping us share smiles by shopping from this special collection. Together, we can assist in providing employment to adults with developmental disabilities and contribute to a sense of belonging – one job at a time.
CEO, 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.
Smile Farms, a non-profit dedicating to helping provide employment to adults with developmental disabilities in agricultural settings, officially opened its 7th location with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday, June 22nd, 2018. The new location employs 24 adults at Holly 's Guest House in Moriches, NY.
Holly's Guest House is a bed and breakfast where family and friends of Independent Group Home Living (IGHL) residents can stay when visiting, and is run by IGHL, a non-profit whose mission is to provide programs and services such as Day-Habilitation, housing, and family support for people with intellectual disabilities so they can realize their full potential as human beings and contributing members of their community.
The first Smile Farms was created in partnership with IGHL, after IGHL CEO Walter Stockton asked Jim McCann, Smile Farms founder and executive chairman, for help securing jobs for some of his residents who were having trouble finding work. Holly's Guest House is Smile Farms' third farm with IGHL.
Both Walter Stockton and Jim McCann spoke at the ribbon cutting ceremony, where McCann described how the work Smile Farms does benefits developmentally diabled "folks who are ready, willing, and able to work and had a hard time finding work." These individuals now work in the 8 raised garden beds which produce an array of vegetables. Their harvest is used to prepare meals for guests of Holly's, with any surpluses being used by IGHL residents.
After the ribbon was cut, guests to the ceremony joined the new horticulturalists in the garden where they were excited to give a tour and share what they've learned. The passion and excitement they have for their jobs is contagious and anyone could see just how important their jobs already are to them.
Smile Farms Intern
Beachgoers were in for a treat when they arrived at The Ocean Club, Inc. in Atlantic Beach on Saturday. They were met with a colorful array of potted and hanging flowers, plants carefully arranged in unique containers, and, perhaps best of all, herbs in pots painted by employees at Smile Farms. The plants were part of our 3rd Annual Pop-Up Shop. The Pop-Up Shop gave us an opportunity to sell herbs grown by employees at Smile Farms at League Education and Treatment Center in Brooklyn, NY. This urban farm employs ten developmentally disabled young adults and adults from their Vocational Program, and consists of 8 raised garden beds, a hoop house and a sensory garden. The employees were also kind enough to hand-paint flower pots for their herbs and they attached a recipe for fresh chive vinaigrette to their chives.
The rest of the flowers and plants for sale were grown at Smile Farms at IGHL, the first Smile Farms campus located in Moriches, NY. This campus employs over 30 people with developmental disabilities and consists of 19 greenhouses. It is also the workplace of Kevin McCann, Jim and Chris McCann's brother, who joined us at the shop. He had a great time joking with both volunteers and customers while helping to sell the plants that he worked to grow.
Everyone loved the plants grown at Smile Farms, but of particular interest were the unique arrangements created by Mrs. Teresa Madtes. She worked hard to arrange various plants and flowers in a variety of containers to make one-of-a-kind creations. Everyone loved her work and all of us at Smile Farms appreciate the hard work she put in to making the day a success. Not only did she contribute arrangements to sell, she was there bright and early, working with the Ocean Club to put on the event.
Ms. Ann Liggio also deserves great thanks. She spent hours making two quilts to be raffled off at the end of the day. The lucky winners went home with either a blue nautical-themed quilt or a red envelope-pattern quilt. Both winners are extremely lucky to receive such beautiful, homemade quilts.
In addition to the quilt raffle, two tickets to our Smile Farms 2nd Annual Citi Field Fundraiser were raffled off. The fundraiser will be held on Wednesday, July 11th and tickets include access to a Pre-Game Party where the first 56 attendees will receive a free drink and all attendees can enjoy endless appetizers provided by the Planning Committee. Ticketholders then enter Citi Field through a private entrance where they will listen to the National Anthem, sung by the FREE players ensemble, from the Warning Track! Ticketholders also receive a free Mets hat, Smile Farms t-shirt, and $12 Food and Drink Voucher. Our lucky winner is sure to have a great night!
All-in-all, our Pop-Up Shop raised over $3,000! We couldn't have done it without our wonderful organizers and volunteers, everyone at Smile Farms, IGHL, and The League School, The Ocean Club, and all of our supporters who purchased our beautiful plants and flowers! We're already looking forward to another great Pop-Up Shop next year!
Smile Farms Intern
On Monday, November 27, 2017, Smile Farms, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing meaningful employment for developmentally disabled adults, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the grand opening of its fourth location, Smile Farms at League Education and Treatment Center (LETC), at the League School in Brooklyn, NY.
This urban farm facility is launched in conjunction with LETC, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of individuals that are emotionally and developmentally challenged, and consists of eight raised cedar garden beds, a hoop house to allow for year-round operations, and a sensory garden to grow a variety of traditional and nonconventional fruits and vegetables.
This campus provides meaningful employment for 11 people with developmental disabilities, 10 from LETC’s Vocational Program and 1 farm supervisor from the local community. Additionally, Smile Farms at LETC will provide emotionally and developmentally challenged students, ages 5 - 21 years of age from the League School, opportunities to use the sensory garden as educational resource and work alongside its employees in tending to the garden.
“We’re proud to partner with the League Education & Treatment Center to continue delivering on Smile Farms’ mission of providing meaningful work opportunities for adults with disabilities”, said Jim McCann, Chairman and President, Smile Farms Inc. “Along with growing plants and greens, we’ll also be growing hope.”
Smile Farms Inc. is a signature philanthropic partner of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.
ABOUT SMILE FARMS: Established by the McCann family in 2015, Smile Farms is a 501(c)3 organization that provides work in agricultural settings to individuals with developmental disabilities. The organization’s mission is to build a movement that fosters a world where people with differing abilities are always fully included. Smile Farms currently employs 61 developmentally disabled adults and serves over 100+ adults and children with disabilities through its now four locations – and counting!
A couple weeks ago, I went to volunteer in Oakdale at Smile Farms at Skills Unlimited as a part of the 1-800-Flowers.com’s Summer of a Million Smiles program. After a day of volunteering with the employees there and getting the garden beds assembled and filled, I was able to go back today for the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. Getting to spend the morning with the farmers that I had previously worked with and gotten to know was awesome and it was even better seeing how excited they were for this event that openly showcased all of their hard work to get the farm ready in time.
So many people came to join in the celebration of opening this new location that was only started a month ago! In addition to the Smile Farms Team, Skills Unlimited employees and board members, we were joined by Jim McCann, the Executive Chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com and Board Chairman of Smile Farms, and New York Senator Phil Boyle. Seeing all of these people come together for such a great cause was extremely exciting and heartwarming. Everyone gathered in front of the newly planted gardens to cut the ribbon symbolizing the beginning of the partnership between Skills Unlimited and Smile Farms. The event was also recorded and will be featured on News 12.
Being surrounded by so many people with so much happiness and positive energy for the start of this farm created a very welcoming and positive atmosphere. It was so easy to see how proud everyone was, especially the employees at Skills Unlimited, making it easy to catch their excitement. I’m excited, as I’m sure is everyone else, to see how this farm will grow and what else will come out of this new and exciting partnership!
Yesterday, I woke up and drove to Oakdale to participate in a Summer of a Million Smiles event for 1-800- Flowers.com. We went to Smile Farms at Skills Unlimited and from the moment I arrived I not only felt welcome, but the energy from the farmers and other volunteers was contagious. Talking to the farmers and getting to know them was awesome. They had the most positive attitudes even on one of the hottest days of the year (96 degrees)! Every time I was feeling discouraged or tired from the heat or work the farmers smiled and it motivated me even more.
One of my favorite parts of the day was lunch, but not for the obvious reasons! This was an opportunity I had to sit down and talk to the farmers. It was awesome to hear about who they were, what their family was like, and even what their favorite thing they were growing was. As I got to know them, it gave me more and more of an appreciation for Smile Farms because what they provide for the community is so important. I cannot wait to watch Smile Farms grow even more and I look forward to volunteering again soon!
What a wonderful day! Numerous people gathered to celebrate the grand opening of our new location, Smile Farms at The Viscardi Center. I was lucky enough to take part in such a momentous celebration. I was surrounded by individuals with varying occupations that came together for a worthy cause. Board members of The Viscardi Center, IGHL and Smile Farms in addition with students from the school, employees of Hicks Nurseries, Assembly Members and Town Clerks attended this event. The CEO of The Viscardi Center, John Kemp as well as Executive Chairman of 1-800-Flowers.com and Board Chairman of Smile Farms, Jim McCann made heartfelt remarks. The event was recorded and will be featured on Fios1 News.
Attendees gathered around the beautiful hydroponic gardens as students and board members cut the ribbon, representing the beginning of the partnership between Smile Farms and The Viscardi Center.
Overall, the smiles from the attendees today were contagious and I could feel the sense of joy in the air. Myself along with many others are excited for the future plans of this location and cannot wait to see how sensational this partnership will be.
Smile Farms Intern
CREATING SMILES, ONE JOB AT A TIME
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