Brief History of The Smiles Foundation
Established to make a Smile – Developed to make an Impact!
In 1990, just months after the fall of Nicolae Ceausescu in Romania, the Smiles Foundation’s founders, Kevin Hoy and Nia Jones visited State orphanages in several major Romanian cities. Of the thousands of children seen, one common observation was noted with them all – a complete lack of Smiles.
Kevin and Nia vowed to return to Romania to make a smile appear on the faces of children and parents struggling with life in 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 both distribution of aid 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.
After several visits in the early years, the work was formally established in 1997, first as a ‘charitable club’, the ‘Smiles Club’ which 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, Elderly care, Child Care and Housing provision.
In 2003, Kevin and Nia stopped touring and ceased the professional Management arrangement with Contemporary Christian Music. Kevin was then Called to focus fully on developing the Work in Romania through the Smiles Foundation. He always believed real help for the Romanian people needed to be both Humanitarian Aid combined with Infrastructure Development to help the people progress by standing on their own feet.
Having established support of the Poor through a Family Care project in 2001, Smiles went on to open the first School for the Tileagd Gypsy Community in 2003 and the Tileagd Nursery in 2004.
2006 was a significant year with several major project facilities completed. The Cihei offices were built and the Cihei Children’s Centre was opened and operated for three years, followed by an Elderly Care Facility until 2013. The Emergency Housing Unit in Mierlau was finished (providing shelter for families in need and for those suffering domestic abuse). We also finished building a new Community Centre in Gepiu which includes a Day Centre providing education, training in life-skills and outreach to the entire community.
Also in 2006, 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 to include a Medical Clinic and a Community Centre/Gymnasium for sports, social and cultural activities. Along with the Foundation’s first Church Build – the entire Complex opened in June 2008.
In 2010 Smiles purchased land in Salonta to build the Joint Facility of Love and in 2013 opened a Care Home for the Elderly. We immediately began building work on Phase 2 – a Centre for those with Disabilities, including a specialist wing for residents with Dementia.
In 2014, Smiles opened ECO (Elderly Care Oradea) in partnership with the State and by 2016, JFL Phase 2 was complete and opened.
Also, within the Boga Mountains, land had been purchased with a view to providing a Mountain Retreat/Camp Centre. The first Camp was in summer 2015.
In 2017, considerable work was launched with converting part of the Tileagd Complex to an Adult Assisted Living facility, which opened in July, 2017.
We were already working hard on another project in Dezna, and for the first time, in neighbouring County of Arad. This was a very challenging project, but after a significant amount of hard work and blessings from God – Dezna Outreach Centre was opened in 2019.
There is no shortage of ideas for the ever-expanding Smiles.
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.
Following a Strategic Review by Founder & CEO Kevin Hoy, 2021 brought the largest restructuring process ever seen into the Smiles Foundation.
The restructure was really about acknowledging and being thankful for all that had been achieved, but also recognising our primary purpose was to share the Good News of the Gospel and greater focus needed to be on that objective in the years ahead.
We strongly felt that through the many and varied projects established and delivered over 20+ years, a great foundation had been laid through practical support ministry, and this caused many to want to know about the God who had motivated so many to do such wonderful things.
Details of the Strategic Review can be read about here on the Smiles Website. Take some time to read through the Reports and join us in making Smiles, making a difference in this world, one person at a time.
The Smiles 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 strong infrastructure that can then, from a position of strength and wealth, better support the weak and poor.
With over £1.5 million pounds (sterling), $2 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 European and American Trustees, and yet promoting the growth and responsibility within the Romanian people. Currently more than 100 Romanian nationals are employed through the Smiles Foundation’s work.
The Smiles Foundation may be a comparatively lesser-known Charity on the International stage, but for the hundreds of people, among the poorest of North West Romania already benefiting from its daily work, Smiles is a ‘life-saver’.
Success is seen daily in our work through a variety of standards and assessments, both externally and within the Foundation. However, in addition to those discovering God, many 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.
Updated: January 2021
By: Kevin D. Hoy
The Smiles Foundation