In today’s economy, there are too many unique and qualified individuals who have difficulty finding a place where they are accepted for who they are and at the same time, a place they can be part of something bigger. This is human nature. Unfortunately, not every individual may be given this opportunity, even if that individual has a strong skillset and desirable talent. Individuals with developmental disabilities, a population that is often overlooked from an employment perspective, face this challenge every day, when there are many important contributions they can make in their local communities. Fortunately, Smile Farms is working with individuals with developmental disabilities, imparting pride and dignity that only employment can provide.
I am extremely humble and honored to be part of Smile Farms’ Planning Committee for the Annual Citi-Field Fundraiser. Smile Farms continuously and unconditionally fosters hope and instills the value of life into individuals with developmental disabilities. Founded in 2015 by the McCann Family (founders of 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc.), Smile Farms provides employment opportunities in agricultural settings to individuals with developmental disabilities. These hard-working and unique individuals successfully grow a wide variety of produce and plants. The harvest is then sold in a variety of venues where the campuses are located, are used in partner organizations’ kitchens, and are donated to local nonprofits. Smile Farms, with a following that continues to increase in size, inspires its neighbors to support the consumption of these products. As a result, individuals with developmental disabilities are provided with meaningful work which they earn a paycheck for, and at the same time, provide resources to their local communities. At its core, one that I deeply advocate for, Smile Farms believes that communities ought to take care of each other and are strongest when every community member has a stake.
In just three years, Smile Farms expanded from one campus employing 30 individuals to seven campuses employing over 100 individuals, with the support of its partners. I can’t even begin to imagine how far reaching Smile Farms’ impact will be over the next three years. The sky is the limit!
On July 24th, 2019, I will proudly be amongst the Smile Farms Family for their 3rd Annual Citi-Field Fundraiser, home to the New York Mets. I hope you will join us and come learn more about Smile Farms and the phenomenal work they are doing. You can also stay up to date with this and other events by signing up for their e-newsletter: www.smilefarms.org/contact
Show your support, enjoy the game, and meet the amazing and dedicated management team, and the rest of the Smile Farms Family. It will be an enjoyable and unforgettable time you and your family won’t want to miss.
Jeffrey Scott, CPA, MBA
Member of Smile Farms Citi-Field Fundraiser
Cerini & Associates, LLP
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
CREATING SMILES, ONE JOB AT A TIME