On the way to 3,000! (Used with permission – R. Eisman.)
Week #176 – Happyness in Action Re-Visited: 2,000 Smiles and Counting! (with Renee Eisman)
Greetings Happyness Tribe!
Always thrilled to re-visit a Happyness in Action story — especially when it includes a fresh call to action!
During 2016’s Ten Weeks to Happyness, I shined a spotlight on Hopatcong native Renee Eisman — who is the Mail Program Manager for Bring Smiles to Seniors. “Bring Smiles” is a non-profit in Odessa, Florida that works with schools and organizations to decorate cards for seniors that are in nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and homebound.
Their motto is “One card, one smile at a time.”
Last year (2017) they sent over 18,810 cards. Renee was responsible for over 2,435 of those!!! That’s almost 40 cards a week!
(You can see all their 2017 stats on their Facebook page here.)
But last week, the program’s founder Ron Tyson sounded the alarm. With a new goal of sending 20,000 cards in 2018 — they were running dangerously low on supplies. Within just a few days, cards started pouring in from all over the country: handmade, store bought, donated, signed and not signed.
So I followed up with Renee to get an update on her story…and find out her personal goal for 2018. Here’s what I learned…and what you can do to help!
[Visit my original post here to learn more about how Renee got started…or keep reading!]
Renee’s story began about three years ago now — when she first moved to Florida. “I fell and hit my head two months after relocating.” Renee suffered a subdural hematoma (bleeding of the brain). Surgery and recovery followed. “I never really had the chance to look for work.”
So Renee started mailing cards and letters to friends and family — to pass the time.
“I always sent a lot of mail to friends and family when I moved to Florida.” And as things go — once you start doing something, you start seeing it in other places. She saw individual Facebook posts from friends, acquaintances, and other programs requesting cards for seniors, shut-ins, and children with special needs. So she added them to her list!
“I enjoyed writing and decorating cards…I call it my arts and craft time.”
And then, in the spring of 2016, “I saw a post in my newsfeed from the local TV station in Florida about (Bring Smiles) and ways to help. I immediately put a package together to send to them.”
Renee started donating supplies (cards and stickers) to Bring Smiles for a few months — and after a while, started chatting with the program’s founder Ron Tyson (a former Jefferson, NJ local). “I was hoping to go visit nursing homes with them but the timing never seemed to work.”
Renee continued to donate cards and supplies to the program though — all while continuing to grow her own private mailing list. And then, in June on ’16 — Ron decided to begin a home mailing program. Renee immediately volunteered to be in charge.
Renee worked up to sending 150/200 cards per month! Topping 2,000 cards in 2017 alone!
“I was used to working 40-50 hours a week. It’s good for my mental health to keep busy and have a purpose.”
Bring Smiles operates 100% on donations for all expenses and supplies…and happily, one of Renee’s biggest challenges is keeping her supplies organized! “It’s a lot to take out all the cards, stickers, stampers, postage, etc.” But it’s worth it.
And the joy just doesn’t come from SENDING cards.
“The surprises have been receiving cards in return from a few people I send to.” Of course, there are those moments when cards are returned, or she finds out through posts that one of the seniors — or children — have passed.
That’s how I got involved. I’d seen Renee’s Facebook posts with photos of all the mail she sends — but a post in late 2016 caught my eye. It was an email and photo from an 81-year-old man in East Brunswick, NJ — writing to thank HER for the cards! He wrote:
“As you know, I am 81-years-old and don’t have much to look forward to until these letters started to come in. Who are these people that would send a card to someone they don’t know? Just to cheer them up.”
Well, Renee was (and still is) one of those people!
What about you? Are you interested in donating cards, postage, or supplies — or decorating and sending cards by yourself or with your group/organization? Because BSTS needs your help!
“We are now sending packages of cards and supplies to groups and organizations all over the country to fill out and decorate for us. People can help by sending us blank cards and or supplies, stickers, postage, etc. We love getting cards filled out with Happy messages to distribute to our seniors.”
Your Happyness Challenge for the week ahead: BRING SMILES TO SENIORS! Visit “Bring Smiles to Seniors” on the Web or on Facebook to find out how you can send supplies or support their mission to send “Happy Mail” to seniors, shut-ins, or children in need. Look for the pinned post entitled “HOW TO PARTICIPATE” — or reach out to Renee at the contact info below.
Renee told me this year, “Happyness to me is the heartwarming feeling I have from knowing I’m bringing smiles to so many.”
And her goal for this year? 2,700 cards! How’s she going to do see it through?
“I know that I’m sending a smile and making the difference in someone’s day…that’s what keeps me going.”
Spread Happyness — send a smile! Send Happy Mail! And BRING SMILES TO SENIORS!
(And if you or someone you know is hosting their own local charity event or fundraiser that Spreads Happyness directly to those who need it — please let me know! I’d love to feature them on the blog!)
1/26/18 by Grace Church
© Grace Church
(PS: Special thanks once again to Renee Eisman for taking the time to share her story for my original post and update me this week! To learn more about Bring Smiles to Seniors, visit them on the web at www.bringsmilestoseniors.com — or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bringsmilestoseniors — or contact Renee directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.)