Established to make a Smile – Developed to make an Impact!
In 1990 – just months after the fall of Ceausescu in Romania – the Smiles Foundation’s founders, Kevin Hoy and Nia Jones visited State orphanages in several major cities of Romania. Of the thousands of children seen, one common observation was noted with them all – a total lack of Smiles.
Founders Hoy and Jones vowed to return to Romania to make a Smile appear on the faces of children and parents struggling for life within this impoverished nation.
After several years of regular visits to Romania, supported by many from the UK and America who were providing significant aid for distribution and funding for several ongoing projects, Kevin and Nia decided to establish an official Charity – The Smiles Foundation. They and an army of like-minded people began the work to help bring Smiles to the Romanian people.
Established in 1997, first as a ‘charitable club’, the Smiles Club subsequently became a fully approved Charity in the United Kingdom, America and Romania itself.
The Charity seeks to relieve poverty, promote education and provide hope & opportunity for many through a variety of projects which include Evangelistic Outreach, Food Distribution, Medical Support, Social Assistance, Education, Child Care and Housing provision.
2006 was a significant year of completing several major project facilities. The new Cihei offices were completed and what is now the Cihei Elderly Care Centre was opened. An Emergency Housing Unit in Mierlau was finished (providing shelter for evicted families and safety for victims of domestic abuse). We also finished building a new Children’s Centre in Gepiu which includes a Day Centre providing education, training in life-skills and outreach to young people, often unable to attend school or need help with homework as parents are unable to assist.
In Tileagd, phase 1 of building the community complex incorporating a new School for up to 250 children was completed. In 2007, phase 2 began incorporating a Medical Clinic and a Community Centre/Gymnasium for sports, social and cultural activities. Along with the Charity’s first Church Build – the entire Complex opened in June 2008.
In October 2013 the Foundation opened Phase One of the Joint Facility of Love – a Elderly Care Home for up to 32 Elderly people. Phase Two is aCentre for Children with Disabilities and is currently the major Capital Building project. Also, in the Boga Mountains, land has been purchased with a view to building a Mountain Retreat/Camp Centre. There is no shortage of ideas for the ever expanding Smiles Foundation.
The Smiles Foundation – its Board of Trustees and thousands of supporters around the world are motivated by a strong Christian faith and its teachings to help the poor and look after widows and orphans.
Today the Foundation has a Family Care project that delivers Food packages each and every month to over 200 families. This is the cornerstone of the Foundation’s work. The Foundation has built, equipped and operates many facilities and projects including the Tileagd Community School, which includes many Gypsy children, often experiencing education for the first time in their lives.
The Social programme provides assistance for families to be properly registered with the authorities and know the options of support available to them. The Foundation also seeks to help with employment opportunities for those physically and mentally capable of working.
The Housing project has met a desperate need for many families who have seen the economic pressures of life in Romania get on top of them. Many, having been evicted, find refuge and security in one of the 30 residential houses owned by the Foundation, provided free for families otherwise facing life on the streets. For those still facing Homelessness – Smiles has a significant project to the Homeless including a Container Village serving nearly 50 Homeless residents.
The Foundation uses the significant funds donated to its work as an investment in the people of Romania for whom the government cannot assist until it builds a stronger infrastructure that can then, from a position of strength and wealth, better support the weak and poor.
With nearly one million pounds (sterling) – 1.6 million US dollars invested each year, the Smiles Foundation is proving to be a Charity of significance – operating professionally under strong leadership with oversight from Europe and America and yet promoting the growth and responsibility within the Romanian people.
The Smiles Foundation may be a comparatively lesser known Charity on the International stage, but for the 1500+ people, among the poorest of Romania, already benefiting from its daily work– Smiles is a “life-saver”.
Success is seen daily in its work through a variety of standards and assessments, both externally and within the Foundation. However, in addition to people eating regularly, having a roof over their head, medical provision when sick, social assistance when in need – poor people through the Smiles Team in Romania have a friend they can rely on and that makes them Smile – that’s our Success.
The Smiles Foundation Mission Statement
Inspiration : Galatians 6 v. 2 (N.I.V.)
“Carry each others burdens and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ”
Our love for Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and our desire to share His Love with others
Objectives as per Charity Commission :
a) To advance the Christian religion Worldwide by the promotion of the Gospel of Jesus Christ
b) To relief of Poverty
c) To the advancement of education
Our prayer is to put Smiles on faces in the Name of Christ.
To help people, especially children, to know they are loved and not forgotten whatever their circumstances.
To share from the bounty God has blessed us with, with those in need of basic shelter, food and love.
Nia was Kevin’s longest serving Artist under management since 1987. Her passion for Missions developed through the Music Ministry, and as co-founder of Smiles, continues to the present day to support, promote and develop the work. Since getting married in 2004 and starting a family in 2007, Nia’s role has changed to Honorary Trustee so as to involve her less in the business and legal responsibilities of the charity.
Dave Clark has many years of experience in all aspects of construction, running large commercial projects. His passion and commitment to the work of Smiles, as Building Advisor, has been constant over the years of his involvement. He has produced conception drawings for all the building projects in Romania and provides continuing professional advice throughout the build to completion, through his many trips to Romania, which he manages in addition to his full time job in the UK.
Living in the heart of England, Stephen and his wife Carol have been supporters of The Smiles Foundation from the late 1990s, but it was in September 2002 that Stephen was first asked to be involved in the building of a school and nursery to serve the disadvantaged Gypsy community in Tileagd. Following an introductory visit in December of the same year, he became Educational Adviser to the Foundation, using his educational experience and expertise to guide, encourage and drive the projects forward. As Stephen’s involvement has grown, so has his love of the people and, especially, of the children.
A successful business man, Gordon has been known to our Chief Executive for 20 years. In the early ‘80’s, when Kevin Hoy was Managing Director to a Christian Record Company, he appointed Gordon as General Manager and they worked as a great team for several years. Gordon has since established and run various businesses and now serves on the Board of Charities and Business’s in his native Scotland. Gordon will bring new ideas, energy and vision to see the Smiles Foundation move forward on all levels.
Brian is a man of many talents and responsibilities. A Family man, an Elder at Church, Chair of a Youth for Christ Board for Europe & the Middle East and runs a successful business in Play Equipment based in Ballynahinch, Co Down. He has supported the work of Smiles for many years both at home, hosting the Romanian Choir at his Church in Northern Ireland as well as donating and installing Play Equipment at the Tileagd School in Romania.
Mark and Sheryl Jones are based in Phoenix AZ and have been strong supporters of the Missions Ministry for many years. Having retired early after selling their successful business, Mark now supports Smiles in a Development capacity on the West coast of America, Sheryl assists with finance and administration.
John Schwab is a Senior Vice President and Financial Advisor with Sterne Agee, a private wealth management company. He and his wife Donna have four children, Ryan, Anna, David and Brannon. His family have travelled to Romania for the past four summers on mission trips and they have helped coordinate performances by Nia and the Gypsy Choir in Baton Rouge, Louisiana to raise significant awareness and funds for the work of Smiles.
Mircea Toca is known to many for his loving care with wife Lidia, as House parents to House 5 at Caminul Felix in Romania . Having worked with Kevin for 20 years now, he was delighted to serve the Board in Romania for the development of Smiles.
Maria joined Smiles in January 2003 as the fifth employee in a small but growing Charity. Today, we have over 70 employees – and Maria’s commitment to serve beyond the ‘call of duty’ is a testimony to what it sometimes takes to see such growth.
Based in Northern Ireland, Barbara co-ordinates a group of volunteers throughout the province for Fundraising Events, Mission Trip Teams and filling of Containers. Always looking for new opportunities to develop.
Based in Troon, Ayrshire and wife of our Trustee Gordon, Ann loves to put on fundraising events and spread the work out Smiles.
From his home town in Redcar, Rob has spoken at events throughout the North East along with his wife Margaret and undertaken various fundraising events.
Carlisle is Tracey’s base as she looks to develop new opportunities for Smiles in her immediate area and further afield.
Annette has been promoting the work of The Smiles Foundation in and around the Worthing area where she is based. She has led a number of Mission Trips, encouraged School Visits and completed a Mobile Home Challenge, in addition to fundraising.
Based in the Forest of Dean, Keith & Sandra look for opportunities to share with the work of The Smiles Foundation in their local area.
The best part of working with Smiles/Smirno is that I have the opportunity to meet wonderful people, I really don’t want to sound like a cliché, but for me, the personal example of some people makes me go forward and be more committed to my own job and commitment to succeed.
Best part of Working for Smiles: – (1) Is when “desperate” people are coming searching for some long desired clothing articles and they find it in our shop. That satisfied look on their face, with that long smile makes me really proud to be part of this business. (2) The team, is made up of great people.
Every night I am wondering for the next day, how I will find all the elderly people that I love so much. I cook for them, I take care of them and I enjoy helping them to do all the things that we are doing as a routine and they just can’t do it anymore for themselves. I know how important is to be helped by someone when you really need it – because others helped me too.
I love to worship Jesus; He is the delight of my heart. My passion is to see in Oradea a 24/7 house of prayer —a perpetual solemn assembly gathering corporately to fast and pray, in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.
I work with SMILES since 2005 as a teacher in the Tileagd School. My job is incredibly hard and stressful, but very beautiful. I have a lot of satisfaction and I can’t see myself doing something else.
Regarding inside activities, I like reading and doing crossword puzzles. As for the outside activities I love swimming, playing volleyball and hiking.
Working in SMILES gave me the opportunity to meet dedicated people, who are a life model for me- and what’s even more important is that my activity in Smiles can impact people’s lives.
I hope for the world economical situation to improve and will change so that Smiles will be able to continue the project in Tileagd – to help people that really need our support.
With my first job, before Smiles, I was complaining it was boring, but now my program is full and I like this because I’m an active person. The most important thing is that ‘I like what I do’.
Even though I studied Theology hoping to become a preacher and working with youth, God had different plans for me. After my graduation I started to work with social cases, counselling people addicted to alcohol and drugs.
Gastronomy is my number one hobby. I also like reading and trying new things all the time. And one more thing….I love watermelon!
I found the Smiles Romanian website in 2008 just by looking for a picture with a gypsy kid. I saw the website and made the decision to change it, so I called the office and told them about it. They agreed and since 2008 we are a team making smiles in Romania.
Words are not enough to describe the joy of bringing a smile to a child’s face, seeing them doing their first things in life, becoming what they want to become.
My wish and hope is that through my work I can be a blessing for the people around me. I know that the place where I am now is not random, and God wants me to give my best. I wish my life will be a model for the Smiles Foundation’s beneficiaries and to leave my fingerprint on their life.
I like reading, working with the children in the Sunday school, spending time with my family and help, as much as I can, those around me who are in need of help.
My hope is to help as many people I can through my work in Smiles. I also hope that this world be a better place because of some small contribution I can make.
I can see people that were changed by the work of Smiles’ Team and this is the reason why we keep pushing, even against the odds sometimes. It is worthy to try and when we do not succeed, we don’t get discouraged, because we aim for something beyond immediate, visible results.
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I hope that our work will be even more blessed. I hope the crops next year from the Polytunnels to be even greater and I hope that many children from those we help in Gepiu will become somebody!
I remember the first day of school, when the kids were much older than normal and even then I tried so hard to explain what they needed to do – but they didn’t understand me. The surprise was I needed a translator from Romanian to Gypsy language!
The best part of working with Smiles is that you can see how God changes other people’s lives and also changes your own life too. What are we doing has an impact on people’s lives and at the moment I am more than thankful.
If there was a special moment in my life it would be the most important moment of my life – the time when God worked in my life after a car accident. Then I understood that my life is only in His hands, that I owe Him my life and the wisest thing was to devote myself to Him, because He knows how to take care of me and of all the things He gave me in life.
A great joy and blessing for me is the opportunity to be a good Christian at our shop in Salonta. Every morning I come to the shop, first thing I do, is to thank God for that shop and pray that every person that enters that shop to find Christ.
The best part of working in SMILES is that I never get bored, because I have so many and very diverse jobs and the laws in Romania are changing so fast- when I start to know a little better- it’s not valid anymore – another new one is passed!
Since I work in Smiles I learned to value more what we have, be thankful with what we have, but I also have been encouraged to be the best in everything I do.
The greatest joy that we had last winter was when we were able to offer accommodation to 50 people in the Homeless project. When they were outside in -20 degrees and people were happy to come to us in the evening for hot food and a place to sleep. Of course I made some new friends and this is a extra gift.