Updated: May 30, 2019
Each week here at SMILE, we like to to take a moment to reflect upon the week prior. We do this not only to celebrate our adventures and accomplishments but also to consider what we could have done better as we strive to integrate the abilities of each of our residents with the pulse of our community. SMILE in the Mirror is a documentation of that reflection.
Last week across the United States, Americans honored those that gave their lives serving in the United States Armed Forces. Many chose to visit cemeteries or memorials, some held family gatherings and others participated in parades. Our SMILE residents chose to celebrate Memorial Day by participating in Hopatcong’s Memorial Day Parade and hosting a gathering of family and friends at the SMILE house afterward.
The parade began at the Hopatcong Borough Municipal Court and proceeded about 1.2 miles down Durban Avenue and across Flora Avenue all the way to Veteran's Field Memorial Park. During the parade, Carl donned a patriotic multicolored wig and walked “Smiley”, who was also dressed patriotically in a stars and stripes dress. Andrew, alongside his mother Monica, tossed lollipops to the crowds of parade watchers and took turns carrying the SMILE banner. Nate also helped carry the SMILE banner and was laughing throughout the trek while waving an American flag alongside his friends and family. SMILE was joined by Hopatcong residents Amie and Jarrod Torgersen, who supported SMILE in their beautiful black 1980 Corvette. The parade concluded with an emotional ceremony, led by Hopatcong Councilwoman Dawn Roberts, at Veteran’s Field Memorial Park. The community was incredibly supportive, applauded SMILE throughout the parade, and even shouted out asking for Steven, who was absent from the parade in order to attend his brother Danny’s wedding. Big congratulations to Danny and Brittany Milford! The entire day was an experience that SMILE is proud to have been a part of.
Earlier in the week, on Monday, SMILE spent some time with Mayor Mike Francis at the Hopatcong Community Resource and Wellness Center. Carl bonded quickly with the mayor over their fandom of the Washington Redskins. Andrew meanwhile, had dozens of questions for Mayor Francis, who was more than happy to answer each and every one. Andrew and Carl were fascinated by each response the mayor gave and enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with such an interesting and generous man.
On Tuesday, Nate decided to head on over to SMILE’s garden plot, at the Hopatcong Community Garden, with SMILE President Allan Milford and SMILE board member Michael Roome. SMILE had been wanting to plant fruits and vegetables, but the weather had been uncooperative and caused multiple delays. With some sun finally spread across our garden, Nate, Allan, and Mike set out to till the soil in preparation for planting. Mike brought his tiller and taught Nate how to properly and safely operate it. Nate was absolutely ecstatic while operating the heavy machinery and afterward stated, “It reminded me of working on my grandpa's farm”. In reflection, it was another week worth smiling about.