2012 Year in Review
It has been another busy year for the Lighthouse Project! We’ve been involved in helping some more than deserving charities in the past year, including the Gemma Moran Food Bank, The LYMI Fund, The Cove, the New London Homeless Hospitality Center, the Glenn Landers Fund and the Melissa Laribee Fund. The employees of Smith Insurance have dedicated their time and kind spirits to make these projects come together and to benefit the lives of people all over Southeastern Connecticut.
To start the 2012 year, our featured charity for the months of January and February was the Gemma Moran Food Bank. Every year, the Food Center distributes over 2 million pounds of food to more than 96 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, day care centers, and senior citizens homes. These member agencies provide the food to more than 20,000 men, women and children throughout New London County. The Lighthouse Project donated 145 pounds of food, along with a check of $1176 to the Gemma Moran Food Bank in order to help them achieve their goal of trying to put an end to hunger.
For the months of March and April, we contributed to the LYMI (Love You Mean It) Fund. This fund was for the benefit of Amy Jones (AJ) who was a 27 year old coach at East Celebrity Elite Cheer & Dance in Oakdale, CT. AJ was diagnosed with Stage 4 rectal cancer which had metastasized to her lungs, liver and kidneys. She had numerous surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy before being accepted into a clinical trial in Houston, Texas. The cost for AJ to undergo this procedure was said to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. On top of our Casual Friday Collections, we wanted to do more to help AJ, so Smith Insurance put on our First Annual Chili Cook off in April. Along with Smith employees, a few of our vendors also participated in the cooking, judging and tasting. It turned out to be a great success! The Lighthouse Project donated $2100 towards AJ’s fund. While AJ unfortunately lost her battle with cancer at the end of 2012, her motto of saying that it’s very easy to say “I Love You” but it’s very different to say “I Love You” and “MEAN it” will never be forgotten, and we were lucky to be able to contribute to such a heartfelt fund.
The Cove was our featured charity for the months of May and June. The Cove: The Center for Grieving Children is the largest children’s grieving center in Connecticut, and is a volunteer-driven program developed to help children and their families deal with life’s hardships. Their goal is to help children understand the grieving and process, have open communication, be willing to share their feelings, and understand they are fully supported in a safe and healing environment. It provides family and school-based programs which focuses on peer support in order to deal with unresolved grief due to traumatic losses and the death of someone close. The Cove is a place that supports children, teens and families, where a variety of programs are offered as well as offering Professional Development seminars and workshops to educate adults on how to communicate with children going through the process. We were able to present Mary Anderson, the Executive Director of the Cove, with a check for $1288. With our help, this money went towards books and materials for their resource library, art supplies and toys for the children, and to help sponsor families in need.
For the summer months of July and August, The New London Homeless Hospitality Center (NLHHC) was chosen as our featured charity. NLHHC is a non-profit organization which provides safe overnight shelter and daytime access to a hospitality center for their adult homeless neighbors. In addition to the shelter, NLHHC also assists their homeless guests move from homelessness to permanent housing. Their goal is to offer homeless individuals access to support in order to make their day to day lives manageable and livable. By providing individuals with resources for financial help, a comfortable place to stay, and assistance in getting back on their feet, the New London Homeless Hospitality Center proves that they’re a great asset to the Southeastern Connecticut community. The Lighthouse Project contributed $1210, as well as miscellaneous supplies, such as cups, lemonade, iced tea and ground coffee mix, to the center that could all be put towards a good cause.
For the months of September and October, the Lighthouse Project chose a fund that was very dear to Smith Employees, the Glenn Landers Fund. Glenn, part of the extended Smith Family, was injured in a tragic trampoline accident in July which left him paralyzed from the neck down. After staying at Yale New Haven Hospital, his family did a lot of research and after talking with the Christopher Reeve Foundation, determined that the Shepherd Clinic in Atlanta, Georgia would be the best option for Glenn’s recovery process. After a few months down south, Glenn has now been moved to the Gaylord Facility in Wallingford, where he is getting continuous treatment before coming home soon. Since Glenn is the loved one of a cherished Smith employee, Patty, it was obvious that he was the perfect candidate for our September/October charity. We raised an amazing $1728 for the Glenn Landers Fund. Along with the infinite amount of support from his family, friends, and tons of people in his community, we are happy to be a part of Glenn’s recovery journey.
As an additional team building event, Smith volunteers, along with family and friends, collaborated with the Habitat for Humanity of Southeastern Connecticut once again, this time to help start the process of building a home in Norwich. These volunteers spent a Saturday dedicated to tearing down walls, banging on nails, and putting their hard work and team work to good use to help benefit Habitat for Humanity. Because of all our hard work the previous year on the Habitat build days, we were acknowledged by Safeco Insurance and awarded a “Make More Happen” community award, where we were able to donate an additional $2000 to Habitat on behalf of Safeco and Smith Insurance.
For the final charity of 2012, we chose to donate to Melissa Laribee for the months of November and December. Melissa Laribee is a 20 year old local resident who was involved in a hit and run on Friday, October 12. While unloading her groceries in front of her apartment, Melissa was struck by a car and severely injured, leaving her as a double amputee. Despite the tragedy, Melissa is in good spirits, but will need to adjust to a new lifestyle and will need a tremendous amount of help. When hearing that Melissa was a dear friend of a Smith Employee, Monica, The Lighthouse Project wanted to show our support and help in whatever ways possible. We collected $1708 for Melissa, and we are also in the process of planning upcoming events in 2013 to continue our support.
In the midst of collecting for Melissa, Smith Insurance held our First Annual Charity Shopping Night in November. By getting everyone in the holiday spirit, we wanted to hold an event that would bring the community together where they could shop, mingle and socialize, and at the same time, benefit a great cause. With this in mind, we donated ALL proceeds of this event to the Tommy Toy Fund (The Tommy Toy Fund is a health and literacy development program for low-income and needy families which provides books, warm winter gloves, and toys that foster educational development, self-esteem or healthy physical habits through play) With an incredible turnout of employees, clients, family, friends, vendors, and community members, we were able to raise an amazing $2293 as well as collected a tree full of toys! It was such a successful night all around, and we can’t wait to continue this tradition in the years to come.
Another busy year here at Smith Insurance has gone by, but all the time and effort makes each experience more rewarding. We feel confident in what we have done, are doing, and continue to do for the people in Southeastern Connecticut. Each project is equally special to the committee and Smith Employees. Each year we have grown in our abilities and are humbled by the help of everyone in the office, as well as their friends and family. It is all well appreciated and we look forward for what is to come!