Smiles are for Free is our community-focused project offering outreach in our Chicago communities.
Read below for information on our upcoming events, our upcoming annual Back-to-School event, and our Remembrance Ceremony.
The story behind the name…. Sofia regularly attended her big brothers’ basketball games at St. Helen School in Chicago and loved to help in the concession stand. During one game, on the concession stand’s whiteboard menu, she added “Smiles are for free!” We are frequently reminded of Sofia’s joyful spirit and her belief that just a smile can do so much. It is with that spirit that we offer these outreach events.
Please contact us with any questions about these events.
Back-to-School Drive – August 28, 2021
In 2019 we served over 50 kiddos and families in our first back-to-school drive at Haas Park. Each child received their choice of backpack to fill with provided school supplies. Our friends at Hairitics Dye for your Beliefs were on hand to offer back-to-school haircuts, and Wendy’s served us ice cream.
𝐒𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐅𝐫𝐞𝐞 the community project of 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐟 𝐂𝐨𝐦𝐩𝐚𝐬𝐬 𝐍𝐅𝐏 is partnering with 𝗪𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐓𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐅𝐞𝐞𝐝𝐬 to hold our third 𝐁𝐚𝐜𝐤-𝐭𝐨-𝐒𝐜𝐡𝐨𝐨𝐥 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭!
Free backpacks and school supplies will be given to the first 300 children. The event will also feature free food, an ice cream truck, and live music!
The Back-to-School Event is 𝐒𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐝𝐚𝐲, 𝐀𝐮𝐠𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝟐𝟖𝐭𝐡, from 𝟏𝟐-𝟑𝐩𝐦 at 𝐇𝐚𝐚𝐬 𝐏𝐚𝐫𝐤, 2402 N. Washtenaw in Chicago.
Your 𝐭𝐚𝐱-𝐝𝐞𝐝𝐮𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐝𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 is accepted with love & appreciation via 𝐕𝐞𝐧𝐦𝐨 or 𝐏𝐚𝐲𝐩𝐚𝐥.
I’m truly heartened by the return of this event and the expressions of kindness and generosity it imparts. I attended in 2019 and was humbled by the effort. Tremendous respect for this cause and the positive impact it will continue to have in the community. So glad it’s back in 2021.
Honoring those we have lost is empowering and creates a space for healing. We gather as a community to both support one another and honor our loved ones at Sofia’s Garden in Haas Park. This ceremony is family-friendly and children are encouraged to attend. The ways in which we remember and honor are so deeply important to our own healing.
In this annual ceremony, we gather as a community to honor those who have died. This community-based support helps create a space for healing and empowers us to share our grief because truly we can help one another carry its weight.
- In 2019, we wrote our loved one’s names and messages on strips of cloth and placed them high in the garden tree’s branches where they remain visible today.
- In 2018, after a ritual of walking around the garden’s small, beautiful path, attendees were invited to share names and stories of their loved ones as chose. We wrote messages on river rocks and buried them in the garden where they remain today.
I am an adult son who was a caregiver for both of my parents for approximately 15 years. I lost them both rather unexpectedly within 2 months of each other. It was an immense sense of loss because of the bond that is often created when a person is in the caregiver role. Although I had a difficult time adjusting to this dramatic change in my life, Sheri Khan’s Grief group was a great resource for information and some camaraderie at a very difficult time. The most helpful experience for me was attending the annual Remembrance Ceremony at Haas Park at Sofia’s Garden in remembrance of her daughter. Everyone attending had experienced loss of some type and this Ceremony provided any opportunity to share that experience and find some sense of solace.
Sofia Khan Garden in Haas Park
Sofia’s Garden is located on the southwest corner of Chicago’s Haas Park in the Logan Square neighborhood. It was envisioned and created by Joe Henry, Haas Park longtime supervisor, and Haas Park Advisory Council leaders including Bridget Montgomery and Tony Porfirio.
Journalist Heidi Stevens wrote about the Garden in 2018 soon after the dedication ceremony. She writes, the Garden, “bears the name of a girl who used to play there, back when there was no soccer field. Back when a baseball diamond took up most of the play space and home plate sat in that same southwest corner, the one where purple coneflowers and blue lupine plants now grow.”
While the Garden is named for Sofia and originally created in her remembrance, we very much want this space to be for the Community! Truly, there is no person unimpacted by loss, and when we can learn about Grief, we learn to make space for it… and for healing.