Our Story

Following the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina, NAAWS and ACA led a fundraising effort to aid the victims of that terrible storm. The Correction Peace Officers Foundation was right there with many other organizations from across the country including the Association for Women Executives in Corrections. Over $180,000 was raised from around the country with the Michigan Department of Corrections leading the way. Even inmate groups recognized the enormity of this cause and contributed their funds to assist the people of Louisiana. The money raised was donated to a Louisiana Department of Corrections employee committee, formed by then Director Richard Stalder, to assist those who lost so much. About a year later it was obvious that many in the communities ravaged by Katrina were still suffering. Some NAAWS members asked what else we could do to help. It was quickly decided that we wanted to help the children impacted by the storm by rebuilding their parks and playgrounds. A committee to accomplish this mission was formed and Make-A-Smile was born.

An abandoned city park was identified in the 9th Ward of New Orleans and NAAWS members responded by raising money and volunteering to help. When we learned that two more parks, one in Moss Point, Mississippi and one in Bogalusa, Louisiana also were in dire need of help, then NAAWS President Mark Saunders said let’s restore all three and we did. In the years that followed, Make-A-Smile subsequently helped communities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Nashville, Tennessee, after both cities also suffered devastating floods.

What's Coming Up

For our ten year anniversary Make A Smile is going back to Louisiana!

Ten years ago we formed a group of NAAWS volunteers to help familes and communities after they suffered through a natural disaster. Our hope has always been to try to put smiles back on peoples faces after they have lost so much. Since our inception we have completed projects in New Orleans, Bogalusa, Louisiana, Moss Point, Mississippi, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Nashville, Tennessee, and Fairmont, North Carolina.

After our successful build in Fairmont, North Carolina last year, this year we are going to the communities of Albany and Clinton, Louisiana. We will be taking on a very ambitios project of building and restoring 2 parks in the same week. Both these communities suffered severe flooding in 2016.

Albany is a very unique project. Four years ago, 2 high school students took it upon themselves to try and build a park in a community where there isn't one. They garnered community support and started to build. Then the flood hit and everything stopped. It was very dissappointing to both the students and the community. We will go to Albany to work with the commuunity and school students to finish their park by building a playground, walking path, volleyball court, picnic tables and other enhancements.

At Clinton this park was already in need of repairs before the flooding only made it worse. Try as they might, there is simply no funding to help this park. The Mayor who lives next to the park tells about how when she was a young girl that this park was the place to go, and with our help it could be again. The Sherrif is all in. The park needs equipment repair, painting, a new playground, and a lot of love.

This will be an ambitios project because we need to fundraise for 2 parks and find enough volunteers to work on both. The good news is that both communities are ready to join with us to restore their parks. We would arrive on Sunday Sept 30th and set up at Albany. Then on Monday morning we would start work there. We would complete that project on Wednesday and move on to Clinton which is less than an hour away. We would work on Clinton through Saturday. To those who can stay we will go to the Rodeo at Angola State Prison on Sunday, an event that you do not want to miss.

We have visited both these sites and met with community leaders. All of them are excited by the possiblity of getting their parks repaired. They have offered lodging, meals, and open arms. In addition there are Correction Facilities and a county jail to support us.

All of us need to work hard in order to make this happen. With 2 projects we will need twice the fundraising. Please be creative and reach out to all you know. All checks can be sent to Make a Smile PO Box 503, Collingswood, NJ 08108 You can also donate or volunteer at our website Make-A-Smile.org. Please be generous.

We will need 6 days of volunteer work. Some volunteers may only be able to work 1 or 2 days, others all 6. We need everyone from labores to skill trades persons. New volunteers can sign up on the website. If you have worked with us before please join us, we need you.

Please help!

Make-A-Smile is a 501c3 charity and, as such, your donations are tax deductible. Donations may be mailed to the following address:
Make-A-Smile, PO Box 503, Collingswood, New Jersey 08108

For additional information, to volunteer or to make an online donation, please visit our organization’s website: make-a-smile.org

Thank you for being a part of a corrections family that continues to care about and support our communities in need.