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
"Remarkable”. That was my exact thought after a couple hours spent at Smile Farms at IGHL. As I approached the Farm, I was welcomed by the staff that was delighted to have my colleagues and I as visitors. I admired the numerous flowers and plants that came in a variety of colors combined with the sunlight. Starting off in the retail store, I was greeted by many enthusiastic workers. These interactions filled my heart with joy as I was given numerous handshakes and even some hugs. The workers were excited to see new people and genuinely wanted to know about my day. They willingly shared information about their lives and were enthusiastic about their job. The time I spent with the employees truly warmed my heart. While I was already pleased with my visit, I was eager to see the rest of the property. As my tour continued, I caught a glimpse of greenhouses containing copious amounts of plants, garden beds with vibrant flowers and of course the coop in the back containing chickens, turkeys and peacocks. After leaving the farm, I am anxious to return. I loved having the experience of interacting with Smile Farm employees firsthand and seeing the results of their hard work. My visit exceeded all my expectations and I saw the true benefit and meaning behind Smile Farms.
Smile Farm Intern
I am Mira Awad and I am a Marketing Coordinator for Fruit Bouquets by 1800 Flowers.com. This past semester, I was lucky enough to serve as a consultant for Smile Farms for one of my final business classes in my college career. Although I’ve been an intern at 1-800-Flowers for several months and have heard about Smile Farms throughout the office, I never got to know what Smile Farms was truly about until this past semester.
In fifteen weeks, I spent hours doing extensive research about Smile Farms and learned about what they do and how they impact the lives of many developmentally disabled adults each day. I was extremely involved in accomplishing our tasks given by Smile Farms to give them our best recommendations on how they can expand and impact more lives. The more I worked on our tasks, the more interested I was to continue helping grow Smile Farms for them to help the lives of many others.
Working for Smile Farms over the semester really opened my eyes to a passion that I never thought I’d have. I found solace in knowing that the simple day to day tasks that may be challenging for a few never stopped the positivity in the work that these employees were doing. This sparked a fire in me to continue being a part of this organization and dedicate my time to such an incredible organization. I’ve always been interested in being a part of a non-profit organization and I’m happy to have had the chance to be a part of this one. I plan to continue helping the people behind the organization in their efforts to grow Smile Farms because I believe they have the power to positively affect the lives of others in the future.
Spring is in the air after another successful Emerald Volunteer Day!
The Greenhouse Workers at SmileFarms at IGHL were delighted to be joined by helpful volunteers this week. The 1-800-Flowers.com employees traveled from all over the country as part of their Emerald Leadership Development Program. The emeralds spent the day contributing to the success of Smile Farms at IGHL. They were all excited to lend a helping hand and many shared that they were impressed by how many greenhouses there are! The highlight of the day was after all the work was done, the Greenhouse Workers and the Emeralds got to spend some time together and get to know each other. The Greenhouse Workers could not believe some of the Emeralds traveled all the way from Ohio and Oregon to meet them.
Thank you to the Smile Farms at IGHL Greenhouse Workers and Staff for being such great hosts and to the 1-800-Flowers.com Emeralds for spending their time with us!
Smile Farms Inc., Intern
Last week, Smile Farms announced its latest campus expansion with The Viscardi Center at Hicks Nurseries' 27th Annual Spring Flower and Garden Show, “Living Dreams”. Over 150 people were in attendance including the Smile Farms and The Viscardi Center families as well as loyal friends and customers of Hicks Nurseries. The event was paired with a walk through of their beautiful garden creations. Many of the displays were whimsical and bright, mirroring images you would see in your dreams. Every display you walked past, you felt like you were in a different world, from the underwater scene with actual water waves and mermaids, to the forest scene with life size peacocks.
Attendees savored hors d’oeuvres prepared by The Viscardi Center’s own culinary students, which gave them a chance to show off their skills to this group of people. This event allowed Smile Farms supporters the opportunity to commingle with The Viscardi Center Family while enjoying the wonderful works of art. Smile Farms expects to double its footprint and open 3-4 additional campuses in 2017, with The Viscardi Center being the first one.
The Viscardi Center provides a lifespan of services that educate, employ and empower people with disabilities. Its programs and services include Pre-K through High School education, school-to-work transition services, vocational training, career counseling and placement and workforce diversification assistance to children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and businesses.
This “Living Dreams” event hosted by Hicks Nurseries was a perfect way to kick off this new collaboration because both, Smile Farms and The Viscardi Center, work to help the developmentally disabled community live out their own dreams.
Smile Farms Inc. Intern
Hi, my name is Gabrielle Luisi and I am the Winter/Spring 2017 Smile Farms Intern.
Having experience in working in the non-profit world, and having a family non-profit organization myself, I felt that this position would be perfect for me. As I soon learned, Smile Farms is nothing like any other non-profit I have worked with before. What really intrigues me about Smile Farms is that it was created through the collaboration of a family, alongside a billion-dollar consumer goods company. I have always worked with non-profit, but always wanted experience in the corporate world, and Smile Farms allows me to have experience with both. From my first day on, I continue to learn more and more about Smile Farms.
In this world today, sometimes not all people are given equal opportunities and I am proud to be a part of a group that is working to change that. I am excited to be a part of implementing one of the major goals of Smile Farms, expansion and creation of more farms. I believe that having a team made up of multiple sectors will be essential to the success of every goal. I cannot wait to visit the Moriches farm for the first time. I am excited to meet the employees of that farm and hopefully learn more about each individual on a personal level. I intend to also learn more about myself as well, through the work with these wonderful people.
I am excited about having the space to engage in a team that promotes the efforts of this organization and its opportunities for communities as well as individuals. I cannot wait to teach people what I have learned and open their eyes to an experience that many are unaware of. Teamwork is where I succeed the most and I look forward to the collaboration that I will be a part of.
Smile Farms Inc. Intern
CREATING SMILES, ONE JOB AT A TIME