Posted On: Wednesday, August 14, 2019
There is just something special about the summer; It is the time of the year where millions of families make time for vacation, building memories, sleep a little longer and, for some, eat too much ice cream. The Summer of 2019 has been a little atypical in the Diomede household; I am still recovering from my shoulder surgery and won’t be able to do any lifting of Nicholas until late November so, for someone that is used to doing everything, I had to learn to be patient. Not my strong suit!
As a parent, I was looking forward to a vacation with the kids, getting off the “hamster wheel”, even if it was just for a week and spending quality time together. We did not have an opportunity to spend time with extended family from Europe for the first time in 10 years. We have always gone home to Denmark to see everyone before venturing off to a spot somewhere for a little family time. Despite lots of planning, with our children getting older, holding our usual family reunion vacation has become challenging. We never quite know if all the older cousins will show up, unless of course we are doing a family reunion somewhere exiting; something that involves, an exotic location, Europa, a cruise, jet skis, boats etc., and is fully paid for ‘of course’. I think you get where I am going with this. Yes, building memories can be exhausting, but worth every ounce of time and energy. There is no better pleasure than being able to create amazing vacations, build memories and get to relax together – no matter where you are.
So, as I am quietly sitting in our beach rental on Cape Cod, writing this newsletter, I was worried I wasn’t doing enough for the kids this summer. I was feeling a little guilty. But when I started to reflect, I realized all the good that had happened, just because we had to stay home for the summer; It is well past midnight as I write and all I can hear is the sounds of crashing waves, Nicholas’ quiet breathing, Annabelle giggling with a friend, my little dog JoJo sleeping and the peace of knowing we are together. I am so blessed. I am enjoying all the little things.
The summer of 2019 might not have been a big vacation summer with family and friends from near and far, but what I did experience in the Diomede household is we all learned something new; Annabelle got her license, she is now “free as a bird” and yes, we are slowly looking at possible colleges. King Nicholas attended soccer and baseball camp for the very first time and he absolutely loved it! He has become quite a navigator in his power wheelchair, gaining new independence every day.
I have had the privilege to have extra time at the office (my dining room table). One of my goals for the summer was to evaluate what we do well at SMILE Mass and what we can improve. Here is what I found;
– We have over 8000 social media followers & email subscribers
– We have donated over 140 Beach wheel chairs
– We service over 50,000 families a year with all of our programs
– Our beach house has been fully rented in both 2018 and 2019, with a waitlist anticipating the release of the calendar for the 2020 season in mid-September
– Our equipment loaner program has, for the first time in 8 years, also experienced massive growth and we now have a wait list
– Our monthly activity program for our kids and adult with disabilities is growing
– Our Coffee Club is slowly but surely growing
– With a lot of classes and training it seems we are getting better at Grant writing
Yes, of course there is always room for improvement in any organization but, I must admit, I am quite impressed with YOU! Yes, YOU and the whole SMILE Mass Team. All of this would not have been possible without all of YOU!
It is with that in mind that I ask you to join us once again in the latest SMILE Mass donation campaign. “Be the reason someone SMILES today” was launched so that NO ONE has to be on a wait list to do something you and I take for granted – like a beach day. By continuing to support SMILE Mass, you will ensure that we will be able to continue to grow ALL of our programs.
Susan and I always knew there was a need for what SMILE Mass does, but we could NEVER have predicted the demand of our many programs. As our summer nights slowly, but surely, are coming to an end, I ask that you help us once again; Let’s continue to support equal opportunity for everyone. No donation is too small, and all donations are tax deductible.
Your support will insure, a child with a disability can enjoy a playground, a family can have a day together at the beach and a vacation can now be a reality because of accessibility.
Together we will build a better tomorrow, where everyone belongs despite their differences.
From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU!
Lotte & the SMILE Mass Team