Phase 1 to begin of “A Place Like No Other”
SMILE Mass is excited to announce that paperwork has been signed to purchase the property to build a “Community within a Community” to help bring a sense of equity and inclusion to the severely disabled population in MetroWest.
“We have been working to come to an agreement with the owners of a property in Framingham, bordering Sudbury and I’m excited to announce that preliminary paperwork has been signed to complete the acquisition of the property. This will allow us to bring our Club SMILE Mass program in-house and to provide immediate relief to the nearly 10,000 families in Massachusetts without the services they need,” announced SMILE Mass founder and president, Lotte Diomede.
“When we launched Club SMILE Mass in 2021, we approached a national health club and secured the space to execute these activities. As the program became more well-established and more clients signed on, we have outgrown the health club and are now forced to have a waiting list. Our solution has been to invest in our own facility that offers even more activities for children and adults and to eliminate the waiting list. With the purchase of our very own property, we will be able to begin Phase One construction of “A Community within a Community.”
Fundraising is in full swing via SMILE Mass’ Capital Campaign and includes donation levels of many different levels. “We are looking for 200 donations of $5,000 and above from our donor base, businesses, financial institutions, and organizations, which will allow us to build out the kitchen, library, gym, music therapy room, and elevator and to make improvements to the garden and grounds,” explained Diomede who began SMILE Mass in 2014. “These donations will come with naming rights or partial naming rights, allowing families or businesses to leave a lasting legacy for generations to see.”
Diomede continued, “With a donation of $2500, donors can purchase a beautiful wooden bench, which we will place throughout the property and allow clients and their families to sit, relax, and enjoy the beauty surrounding them. Each of the solid and sturdy benches will be carved with your family or business name, creating a lifelong legacy commemorating your donation.”
“Every donation of $500 will be used towards the purchase of our main gate to be placed at the SMILE Mass Community within a Community. We will place a legacy plaque in the vicinity of the gate noting all donors who were responsible for its purchase. The main gate will be placed at the entryway of the SMILE Mass Community within a Community. Its presence serves as the symbolic threshold during the journey into the world that the Community represents.”
“We even have a donation level of $100, which will allow us to purchase a Legacy Brick engraved with a message of the donor’s choice. This is a wonderful gift to give for holidays or birthdays or to leave a legacy commemorating a family name, family member, or business. The bricks purchased during Phase One of the project will be placed near the front gate and leading up to the entry of the SMILE Mass Community within a Community. Bricks can be engraved with 3 lines with up to 18 characters per line (spaces count).
The state-of-the-art 8,000-square-foot activity center, also known as “A Place Like No Other,” will be customized using the Universal Design concept to deliver services to children and adults with severe disabilities. The proposed facility will be located on 30+ wooded acres on the Framingham/Sudbury line. It will include individual classrooms for one-on-one learning and activities with spaces that limit external and overwhelming stimuli.
In addition to the classroom and outdoor learning spaces, the “Community will contain a fully equipped, handicap-adapted gym where individuals with disabilities, a heated pool for swim classes and water therapy, a fully handicapped-accessible playground, a river walk outlining the property for outdoor exploration, covered pavilions for outdoor classes and activities, adapted trails throughout the property and even an adapted treehouse for purposeful fun and play, a fully accessible indoor and outdoor recreation area including trails for running, biking, cross country skiing, a water sports area for fishing and kayaking and a pavilion where fitness training, art, and music classes can be offered to those with special needs and a courtyard in the center of the clubhouse to allow for protected time in the fresh air and sunlight.
Club SMILE Mass consists of hybrid classes to stimulate clients mentally and physically. Classes include access to one-on-one training or small group classes, swimming classes at Atkinson Swimming Pool in Sudbury, and seven-day-per-week access to any LA Fitness in Massachusetts. The program also includes music therapy, storytime, Bingo games, small group workout classes via Zoom, and bike evaluations performed by a Physical Therapist. All trainers of Club SMILE Mass are fully trained and certified.
“These are services that were previously available to this very vulnerable population but dried up during Covid,” continued Diomede. “Through Club SMILE Mass, our fastest-growing program to date, we are providing much-needed daily activities with a focus on movement. There are currently no existing clubs for someone with disabilities, which is a huge problem, and this is why Club SMILE Mass has become so popular.”
“The severely disabled make up 12.2 percent of the disabled population,” explains Lotte, whose 22-year-old son Nicholas was born prematurely with a fluid buildup on his brain. “Nicholas faces numerous obstacles every day of his life, everything from getting out of bed to feeding himself – things an individual with a normal functioning brain can do for themselves multiple times daily. He has been in a wheelchair his entire life and requires constant assistance from family, teachers, and friends. The “Community within a Community” will be a place where Nicholas and others like him can enjoy both education and recreation in an environment they are comfortable in.”
“Our clients will never learn the things that a typical child or young adult will learn, but by educating them using a cross-therapeutic approach, they can learn many valuable tools that will be helpful in their day-to-day lives. The world is not built for people with severe disabilities, but everyone deserves a fully accessible world.”
“This is our biggest undertaking yet,” continued Lotte. It is an opportunity for those who believe in equity and equality to resolve a national crisis following the pandemic. We are relying on our existing donors, new donors, and sponsors to take us through each phase of the three-phase Capital Campaign. There is a donation level for everyone, regardless of your financial means.“
To donate to the Capital Campaign, visit SMILE Mass’ website at smilemass.org or call Lotte at 617-967-7755.
About SMILE Mass: Small Miracles in Life Exist (SMILE Mass) is a 501 C3 non-profit organization dedicated to helping families raising children or adults with disabilities enjoy happy, healthy memories through vacation and recreation experiences. For more information, visit www.smilemass.org
Contact information: Lotte Diomede- President-Founder email@example.com 617-967-7755
Susan Brown-Vice President- Co-founder firstname.lastname@example.org 978-460-7410
Todd Civin- Director of Communicationsemail@example.com