The scramble to find an internship for the summer. A common thing that a lot of college students face when trying to figure out how they want to spend their summer. I was very lucky, to get an opportunity to interview with 1-800-FLOWERS.COM, Inc. and experience Smile Farms. As a freshman, it was very encouraging to get a chance, and see that there were people who are impressed with my qualities.
Day 1 = nerve wracking. Not sure what to expect. Will I fit in? Can I keep up and do the work? All those questions were answered on the first day, immediately when I understood the amazing culture of the organization. I felt immersed in an environment where the team’s motivation was fueled by a passion for giving back to others.
The transition from being a college intern to a member of the team was the most memorable. Campus trips, to meetings, and phone calls was a part of my daily schedule. I felt accountable, looked up to, relied on; actually made me feel emotional at times, knowing that the work I was doing was critically important. The most amazing part was seeing the operational end of a non-profit like Smile Farms. Believe me, non-profits are so much more than a mission statement and a fundraiser. It takes compassion, drive, ambition, and the ability to have vision and work to achieve it. Also known as hours of work, planning, calls and giving your time to contribute to a great cause.
With family members who have developmental disabilities, one of the scariest things is thinking about what life would be like after a time comes that you have to let go and set them free to be independent. These are the programs that keep families optimistic, knowing that there are opportunities for their loved ones to flourish and be a part of the community. When visiting the Smile Farms Campuses, its like visiting a little community, of people who accept each other, value one another, and shine a light to bring out individual’s confidence.
When the goodbyes are harder, that’s when you know the experience was worthwhile. These are the people who have made the sometimes freezing cold and sometimes humid buildings and the weekend train commutes worth it. Lastly, thank you Jim and Chris McCann, for taking a chance on an idea that has now helped people with developmental disabilities immerse themselves in the community. Just thank you.