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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: Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Timothy Nurnberger

Today was a really good day. Throughout the morning and early afternoon we worked on our construction projects around the community center. Sam Dunn and I persevered with the compost bin project. At the beginning of the week, we had started constructing the bins with old pallets and scrap wood we found by the tool shed (which turned out to be much more than just scraps of wood- they were pieces of the old Pow Wow grounds, which has since been refurbished), not quite sure how it might turn out. Today was day three of construction and we came close to finishing. Just a few hinges and handles stand in the way of the completed product. What started as a simple plan has evolved into a totally awesome three-part composting extravaganza in which we’ve implemented ways to easily add meal food scraps, as well as the ability to churn the decomposing material, and eventually remove it to use in the gardens. When the kids came for camp this afternoon, we had an “Everyday is Earth Day” talk with them about keeping trash off the ground as well as the importance of composting. We debuted the almost-finished composting system, and a few of the younger girls excitedly help gather hay and dump the food scraps from the kitchen into one of the bins. It was a big hit until they discovered the stench that comes with composting.

Overall, it was an awesome day working on our projects and hanging out with the kids of La Plant.

- Hannah Miller


It’s our halfway point for the week, and a great one at that. We started off the morning with a community breakfast, it wasn’t a huge turnout but the team really took advantage of the situation. We all got to sit with the people from town and really talk and interact with them. But soon after dishes were cleaned we honed in our work projects. The first couple of days here had been windy with a shy sun poking in and out of the clouds, but today was sunny enough to make us forget the wind was blowing. I spent my project time at the compost bin, and was beginning to paint with Olivia before we switched gears for camp time.

Camp is one part structure and three parts fun. We really just want the kids to have a good time so whether that’s coloring inside or just having a good ol’ fashion roll in the dirt; if they are enjoying themselves then we are enjoying ourselves. Today was a roll in the dirt day; a couple of the younger girls and I ran around the pole barn playing tag and making up the rules as we went along.

On a more thoughtful note, for the duration of our stay on the reservation I make a point to observe, not only the new friends we make and beautiful surroundings but the less tangible key factors to our trip. For example, the big red bus is an essential Simply Smiles tool. It brought us to the Rez from the airport, it picks the kids up for camp and drops them off when camp time is through, and the moment I realized how important the bus is, we were on our way back from a traditional Wednesday night treat: dinner out at Dairy Queen, 32 miles away in Eagle Butte.

The bus is not from the Rez but it somehow belongs here. It is the bright red paint that you can see from across town that lets the kids know it’s time to be picked up for camp. It is its relentless interior that takes a beating but never waivers in its ability to hold bodies. It is what we pack with supplies before the team drives it across the country to its 5 month home, and it is an iconic part of Simply Smiles. What the bus represents is the dedication and durability that Simply Smiles has for this community. The bus and the Simply Smiles operations go hand in hand.

That’s all for now, see you all slow time.

- Sam Dunn