In these unprecedented times, we are all seeking a greater sense of connectedness; despite the challenges we face, this health crisis offers a unique opportunity to support one another more than ever before. Smile Farms Inc. is approaching the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic with transparency, vulnerability, and honesty. We are unwavering in our commitment to improve employment, vocational, and educational opportunities for people with disabilities. These rewarding experiences allow Smile Farmers to gain the satisfaction of mastering new skills, while contributing to their team and community.
We want to ensure our community is aware of what we are doing to be solution focused during this time of uncertainty. Acting with an abundance of caution, the top priority is to ensure all members remain safe from the virus. Our extraordinary partners took immediate actions to protect the Smile Farms community’s safety. This includes, but is not limited to, suspending employment and vocational activities to support social distancing advisories as well as visitation to Smile Farms program sites. Given the current state of the economy, our hardworking participants are facing an uncertain future. Smile Farms is committed to supporting our Farmers when they can return to the workforce.
Beyond prioritizing immediate safety from this pandemic, we acknowledge the rollercoaster of emotions and potential anxiety that comes with an unprecedented crisis. Like many others in this moment, we are missing a sense of human connection – an element at the heart of Smile Farms’ mission. We are grateful for the ability to accomplish work remotely and are learning that what holds a virtual workplace together is the trust and respect our team has for one another. We have found creative ways of staying connected to each other and community – we will continue to reach out to supporters, partners, and volunteers to check-in and offer support.
We gain strength from the health and well-being of our community and as such, made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone the 5th Anniversary Benefit from April 28, 2020 to November 13, 2020. We look forward to gathering together at Gustavino’s in NYC to celebrate with partners and distinguished guests. The newly designed Smile Farms website and social media platforms are among the powerful ways we are maintaining communication about events, programs, and updates in this time of crisis. A responsive community spirit is at the heart of Smile Farms. It is an extension of our signature philanthropic partnership with 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc., sharing in the company's vision to inspire more human expression, connection, and celebration.
Looking to the Future
As we navigate the new normal, Smile Farms is turning to where it all began – a community who makes all we do possible. We have confidence in the Smile Farms Network and team to adapt and move forward, creating more opportunities for people with disabilities to work and learn. From the committed leadership of our Board of Directors to unwavering support from donors – the Smile Farms community is willing and able to push ahead.
We wish you and your loved ones good health and well-being.
Jennifer Low & Devon McCann
Please visit our COVID-19 page for updates and resources.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Jennifer Carpenter Low is Vice President of Smile Farms, Inc. She leads the development and execution of Smile Farms’ vision and strategy. Jennifer brings 27 years of experience in the nonprofit sector serving in program, development, and executive roles working with local, national, and international organizations.
Devon McCann is a member of the McCann Family, who founded Smile Farms. She is proud of the work the organization has done to provide meaningful opportunities and purpose for people with disabilities. Devon is an Associate at Orr Group, a nonprofit consulting firm providing strategy leadership, fundraising, campaign, and events expertise.