Char­i­ta­ble Giv­ing

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Con­necti­cut. The staff helped rebuild two houses, turn­ing them into beau­ti­ful homes for de­serv­ing fam­i­lies.

“See­ing the em­ploy­ees out there in hard hats work­ing so hard was awe­some” said Budds.

The good works with this or­ga­ni­za­tion led to the agency win­ning a Safeco In­sur­ance “Make More Hap­pen Award,” which gave Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity an additional $2,000.

“We are con­tin­u­ally amazed and hum­bled by the en­ergy and gen­eros­ity that pours out of Smith em­ploy­eeswhen­ever they see a lo­cal cause or fam­ily in need of help,” said Amy D’Amico, di­rec­tor of re­source de­vel­op­ment at Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity of East­ern Con­necti­cut. “They do so much to help our com­mu­nity on many lev­els.”

In April 2013, The Light­house Project hosted a “Fam­ily Night of Magic” to ben­e­fit the Bri­anna Dzieken Fund. Bri­anna was born with a con­gen­i­tal heart de­fect and was re­cently di­ag­nosed with Eh­lers-Dan­los Syn­drome, which weak­ens con­nec­tive tis­sues. The fund helps her fam­ily with the costs as­so­ci­ated with her treat­ment, which has in­cluded mul­ti­ple heart surg­eries. The event, which in­cluded a pasta din­ner, raf­fles and ma­gi­cians, raised $6,500.

“The beauty is overwhelming and no words can ex­press the ap­pre­ci­a­tion,” said Carol Dziekan, Bri­anna’s mother.

The Light­house Project hosts an an­nual “char­ity night of shop­ping” which ben­e­fits the Tom­myToy Fund. At­ten­dees bring a new toy or­makead­o­na­tio­nand­spendtheevening shop­ping among over 30 ven­dors, in­dulging in wine and ap­pe­tiz­ers, and hop­ing to win one of the amaz­ing raf­fles.

“It’s a beau­ti­ful night,” mar­veled Pamela Mu­gavero, an an­nual at­tendee. “Won­der­ful people, great raf­fles, amaz­ing ca­ma­raderie.”

“The most amaz­ing part is the re­la­tion­ships built by the group,” said Mike Meeneghan, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer of Smith In­sur­ance. “I fre­quently hear the com­mit­tee mem­bers dis­cussing the sta­tus of pre­vi­ous re­cip­i­ents and time spent with the fam­i­lies they have helped. It’s not just about the check; it’s a life­time com­mit­ment to main­tain the re­la­tion­ship of sup­port.”

The list of re­cip­i­ents is stag­ger­ing: Toys for Tots, Chil­dren’s Mu­seum of South­east­ern Con­necti­cut, East Lyme Po­lice Cadets, Terri Brodeur Foun­da­tion, Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity, Sen­sa­tions Char­i­ta­ble Foun­da­tion, Covenant Shel­ter of New Lon­don, Tommy Toy Fund, Melissa Laribee Fund, Glenn Lan­ders Fund, The New Lon­don Home­less Hos­pi­tal­ity Cen­ter, The Cove, LYMI Fund for Amy Jones, Gemma E. Mo­ran Food Cen­ter, Child and Fam­ily Agency of South­east­ern Con­necti­cut, Bri­anna Dzieken Fund, Caro­line’s Mir­a­cle Foun­da­tion, The Re­liance House, Lawrence & Me­mo­rial Hospi­tal Pond House, Kyle Seidel Fund, Suc­cess on Skate­boards, and The Brain In­jury Al­liance of Con­necti­cut.

“We don’t do it for the recog­ni­tion; we do it to put a smile on a face,” said found­ing Light­house Project com­mit­tee mem­ber Mandy Panik. “That is the best gift we could ever re­ceive. Know­ing that we helped make some­one’s day just a lit­tle brighter, that is why we do what we do.”

To fol­low the “Big Check,” like The Light­house Project on Face­Book at face­book.com/ smith­ligt­h­ouse­pro­ject.

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