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Bridgeport, CT, 06605
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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!

Naugatuck on the Reservation 2013: Thursday's Reflections

Timothy Nurnberger

Hello from La Plant! There is so much to say and so little time to say it, this week has certainly been an adventure. It’s hard to believe it’s Thursday already, it feels like I am just getting into the groove of it and now we are starting to wrap it up. My time here has been the most challenging and rewarding experience that I’ve ever had. I have pushed myself both physically and mentally and wish I had words to describe it all to you. The family back home will never believe the things I’ve done this week. The Simply Smiles team have been amazing, the people have been warm and welcoming and the in love I am with the children.

Yesterday was a quiet camp day and we were crafting with the kids when Stace, an adorable little girl who I had done yoga with the day before, ran up to me and asked if we were going to do yoga again. I was so excited that she enjoyed my activity! There are a million stories like this and I’m sure all of you will be sick of hearing them when I get home.

We are getting ready for the community breakfast and I can’t wait to get some more conversation in with these lovely people. I have learned so much from them and they are thrilled to teach you. Barbara and Kile have been so gracious and willing to share their culture with us and I will hold these memories in my heart for the rest of my life. Thank you Simply Smiles and the Lakota people for this opportunity, I am counting down the days until I can come back!

- Jennifer Dupont

A simple day in La Plant is anything far from simple, and the work and love that  the staff  provide for this town goes above and beyond the name of Simply Smiles. When I hopped off that Big Red Bus I was ready to conquer the world, I was determined to work every fiber of my

being into this town, and provide them with the effort that they deserve-and I feel that I have kept this unspoken promise. And its the people of La Plant that make all the hard work worth while, their gratitude, stories and smiles provide a  spiritual Bengay of sorts. We may provide a meal for their stomachs but they have given me food for the soul.

We start each day with a handful of work projects and do our best to wrap them up before the kids trickle in for another jam packed day of camp : Art projects, basketball, connect 4, Guitar Hero, baseball, boo-boos, yoga, and the occasional piggy back ride. I have given more rides than a Staten Island Ferry. The Community Center, which doubles as a dining hall, hotel, and activities hall, turns into a giant jungle gym. Kids are making bracelets and munching on snacks, but I love every hectic minute of it.

Meals are a group effort, with mainly Josh and Nancy leading the way. Between preparation and clean up everyone manages to help in one way or another. And let me tell you, you haven’t truly washed dishes until its 40 mph winds, dust is embedding itself in your teeth, and your under the stars with a spuratic spotlight for inspection.

The truth is that I cant explain this place or this experience to you in a paragraph or even ten paragraphs. I can share statistics and show you photos but you don’t fully understand the magnitude of whats being done here until you have La Plant soil under your feet. Ill see you all Eastern Standard Time.

- Sam Dunn