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Simply Smiles provides bright futures for children, families, and communities. The organization partners with populations in need to create physical and emotional environments where suffering is alleviated and from which local leaders can emerge.

Simply Smiles blog

Follow our blog and read insights from Simply Smiles staff, volunteers and other individuals whose lives are affected by our work!

East Haddam Day 1!

Timothy Nurnberger

After a long day of driving on the red school bus, flight delays, and a delicious taco dinner yesterday, the East Haddam group was ready for action this morning as we kicked off the first full day of our first summer volunteer group.  Up surprisingly early after such a long previous day of travel, the group cooked pancakes and headed off on the school bus to check out La Plant. They were warmly welcomed by Emory Different Horse, whose house we made-over last summer, as they got a chance to see what Simply Smiles groups can get done here. They also saw Barbara and Roland Roach’s bright green house which was completely remodeled last summer.  I was relieved to see that its still standing strong after all of that hard work! Also standing strong are Shaun and Anthony's tomato plants, as it looks like they may be taking the lead in this summer's tomato growing contest. Needless to say, the East Haddam group was inspired to get to work! We split up and half of us went to start this week’s project at Ronnie Bowker’s house, ripping off old shingles and getting ready to put a new roof on. A few of us stayed at the community center to fix picnic tables and work on dismantling a decayed handicap ramp. To cool off, the group got their first taste of the Missouri River in all of its freezing yet beautiful splendor. Some were brave enough to take the full plunge, while others splashed their bodies in a feeble effort to clean up. Looking and smelling slightly better, we headed back to the community center to prepare for our first town-wide dinner of the week.

The community dinner was a huge success, especially since we cooked up some buffalo burgers that helped us reclaim our culinary status after a failed attempt to make barbecue chicken at the last dinner. The kids were running around getting to know their new friends and demanding piggy-back-ride after piggy-back-ride. Our guests commented on the triumph of Gaby’s black bean and corn salad, and everyone sat for several hours catching up and making new friends.

All in all it was a great first day for the East Haddam group. We were forced to overcome some slight technological mishaps when our friend ran over our electricity line with a lawn mower and a horse tripped over our phone line...standard daily protocol on the reservation. Miraculously we splayed together the phone line, but half of the community center is still out of power - just a small bump in the road of which I'm sure there will be many. This is why we preface every activity with our favorite saying, "flexibility is fun!" And it certainly is.

Off to bed to get ready for tomorrow's full day of work and our first day of summer camp!


Shaun and Anthony with their tomatoes!

Shaun and Anthony with their tomatoes!


Erin and Evan on the roof!

Erin and Evan on the roof!