The Strategic Review for the Future of Smiles, Romania
The thinking behind the biggest Smiles restructuring ever
By Founder/CEO – Kevin Hoy
As Founder of an organisation that has grown and developed as Smiles has, one becomes acutely aware of the responsibility you have towards ‘succession’. As the years pass, you realise firstly, you can’t do quite as much as you once did, and secondly, you won’t be around forever doing whatever you can do – so plans need to be put in place for the future.
I am aware of the challenges often faced in organisations and particularly churches, that flourish under the founder, or a long-term leader, yet face immense challenges when that person moves on or is no longer able to lead as they once did. I sincerely believe it is the responsibility of the founder to prepare for succession and problems that occur later are not necessarily the fault of those who took over, but the one who had years to prepare for what was inevitably ‘coming next’. I therefore felt very responsible, while I could, to prepare for the next chapter of Smiles.
These thoughts became particularly pertinent when the Board of Trustees starting to express their concern for my specific succession, and efforts to source possible candidates proved difficult, so I decided to approach the challenge from a different perspective.
I strongly felt we had to consider the fact that many of the projects that were required 20+ years ago on which the Foundation was built, were not so required today or as we looked to the future, as life and indeed the whole country of Romania has progressed in many ways over the past 30 years since the fall of Communism and my first visit.
I also anticipated, and indeed was experiencing, the shift of focus in the world and media attention which has made fund-raising all the more difficult. 30 years ago, the scenes and stories of distressing conditions in the orphanages in Romania encouraged millions around the world to support efforts to improve the situation. Those images disappeared as the country progressed, and support significantly dropped, but sadly the needs for a country like Romania went deep into society, and the need today is as great as it was in 1990, just in different areas and less obvious.
However, significant funds were still needed for Mission Charities like Smiles. I concluded in 2010 that it was increasingly important to provide Projects that could contribute support from Romania enabling a lessening dependency on external support in future years. Therefore, over the past 10 years, I have worked hard to ensure options are in place that are providing greater financial self-sustainability, both now and for the future.
The only exception I believe we could hope for, with regard to on-going support from the UK & America, would be for Outreach Ministry. So, for the work of the Churches planted in Tileagd and Rapa, the Children’s programmes of Rapa, Gepiu, Community Work and the Dezna Facility could all expect to receive significant continuing support.
In fact, my criteria on any new ‘project’ or area of work added to the Smiles impressive list of activities, was to have some degree of Romanian Income and at best look for minimal ‘top-up’ of required budgets from the UK and America. Outreach being the only exception to this policy.
I also felt that Smiles had grown exponentially over the years and we had always added to our projects when new needs became apparent. Seldom replacing anything, just constantly adding. Some of the older projects were no longer front line needs and it was time for some ‘pruning’ to ensure the Smiles Tree was bearing as much fruit as possible into the future.
So, I studied the projects and issues that felt most important, the concept of ‘bearing fruit’ was heavy on my heart. This is what we are called to do. Along with all our attitudes and actions we should have towards the needs of this world, we as Christians are called to bear fruit. Whatever the Church or Mission Organisation is doing – it must bear fruit. So, the process began of pruning the Smiles Tree, so as to bear more fruit.
Sometimes with such a process, one can look at adjusting or tweaking issues. A slight change here and there. But I felt embarking on a new decade, we should look to some significant adjustments that would truly prepare the Smiles Foundation to serve more effectively in the areas of greatest importance for the years to come and this was needed in both leadership and the projects on the ground.
Management and leadership have been fundamental areas to strengthen over the years. As a result, I have endeavoured to prepare Romanian individuals, dedicated and committed to God’s Call through Smiles, to learn and be prepared for stepping up to the demands and responsibilities required to lead the Smiles work in Romania. This will enable more direct management in Romania and less from someone, however experienced and willing, to travel between Romania and the United Kingdom or America.
The Executive Management team of Maria, Adi and Simona are ready for stepping up and want to continue learning as much as possible in the coming years. I am also thankful for an excellent middle-management structure with people like Ligia at TAL, Carmen at ECO and experienced Social Assistants such as Mioara, Ioana and Diana.
Believing we had the Team in place for handling the implementation of a Strategic Review, I pressed ahead with the restructure theory which was presented and approved by the Trustees in August 2020. I immediately set to work with the Executive Management in Romania, Dawn and Luke in the UK to prepare for launching the program come January 2021.
The significant difference was changing from 5 Clubs covering up to 24 projects to the new concept of presenting the Smiles Foundation as 4 Pillars – focusing on around half as many individual projects. This is the concept I came up with:
The MISSION Pillar – with 5 areas of activity/project responsibilities would have Maria as Director of MISSION in addition to her overall responsibilities as Director of Operations in Romania.
The 5 areas are:
1. Mission through visitors – Mission Trips
2. Mission through Education and After-School
3. Mission through Emergency Housing for Families in need
4. Mission through Medical Assistance
5. Mission of sharing Joy at Christmas and other Seasonal programs.
The OUTREACH Pillar – will also have 5 areas of activity/project responsibilities. Four are current and one is hoped to be developed in the future. Adi will be Director of Outreach in addition to remaining Assistant Director to Maria and Office Manager in Cihei.
The 5 areas are:
1. Church Development and Pastoral Care
2. Children’s Outreach – COP’s and Children/Youth programming in Gepiu, Rapa & Tileagd
3. Community Outreach – incorporating Family Support, Homeless, Elderly Lunches & Communities
4. Dezna Outreach – Camps & Events
5. Evangelistic Outreach Events – local, regional, or national (A future development)
The RESIDENTIAL Pillar – has 3 immediate areas of activity with additional plans on the horizon. Our grouped Facilities will be overseen by the Smiles Executive Management team – Kevin, Maria, Adi and Simona.
The rapid and substantial development of Smiles Residential Care since 2010, has created a significant project with an annual budget in excess of £650,000 / $845,000 so a team effort is required supported by a tremendously dedicated team of Managers and Social Assistants in each facility – all dedicated to the objective of the Smiles ministry.
The 3 areas of current activity plus possible future options are:
1. JFL Salonta (2013) Joint Facility of Love
2. ECO Oradea (2014) Elderly Care Oradea
3. TAL Tileagd (2017) Tileagd Assisted Living
4. SHC Cihei (2024) Possible Planned Development – Sunset House Cihei
5. CAH (under review) (Care at Home) Potential Development being considered.
Finally, the ENTERPRISE Pillar which in essence was established in 2010 with the creation of a wholly owned Business by the Smiles Foundation (holding 100% of shares) called sc Sminro srl. Initially managing a Farm and Retail shops along with the Glasshouse built in 2011. Simona will be Project Director as focus is now exclusively on the Glasshouse to provide the crucial contribution to Smiles future self-sustainability efforts.
These new Pillars and the active projects streamlines the Smiles Structure and I believe will enable greater focus on our primary calling – to ‘bear fruit’.
The biggest change and development for the future is through the Outreach Pillar, where the focus and emphasis of many established and loved projects will be more channelled through an evangelistic program and objective. Adi shares my vision to see this happen and will be the basis of bearing more fruit.
Adi will be looking to expand the Outreach Team from the current three of himself, Pastor Vasile and Ioana Tamas to hopefully six in total. Bringing in gifted and committed people for Evangelism and Outreach with children, youth and families. It may take some time to find those special new members of the team, so please join us in praying for God’s provision of the right people at the right time.
The Outreach Pillar will also provide more opportunities for visiting Mission Teams to get involved with COP’s and other Children’s outreach, plus Camps in Dezna and of course the support we will provide through Community Outreach to families, the homeless and communities in need.
We are excited about the greater potential for focusing on our core ministry that the new Pillar Structure will provide. Our aim for the Outreach work will require significant support from the Smiles family of partners to enable the work to grow nearly 50% more on what it has been, but I am confident the Smiles Family will want to see the Outreach work grow and will provide the support Adi will need to direct the Outreach activities the way he plans.
All exciting plans for the future which I’m delighted to say Trustees, Management and Staff are equally excited for and we all believe this is God’s Leading for the years to come.
After all the planning, we have finally reached the point of implementation. When the ‘rubber hits the road’ some would say. Although a little frightening to be embarking on such an operational change, I believe 2021 is a perfect time to be facing and taking on the challenge.
Thank you for the past 30 years and for partnering with Smiles into the future. May we all work towards bearing more fruit in these crucial days.
In Christ’s Service
Kevin D. Hoy
Founder & Chief Executive
The Smiles Foundation. January 1st, 2021