Charm personified: the sight of a sweet old man sits in a chair at the Easter Seals Day Break at the Miller Center. His subtle but sunny smile lights up the whole room. Although coy in nature, you can tell he was (and arguably still is) a heartbreaker. But, Francis Smart, an Easter Seals Florida (ESF) client for six-months to date, is more than just your average fellow. To many, Francis is known as “a man of the people.”
Born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago, Francis moved to the U.S. when he enlisted in the army in the 1940s. After serving our country for several years, he set his sights on new horizons. To call him a go-getter is an understatement. Francis worked for the New York Times. In his spare time, he hosted annual trips to his hometown for 29 consecutive years in time for Carnival to donate food and clothing to the needy. He also claims to have introduced bitters to the U.S. After many years filled with adventure, giving and achievement, Francis’ family sought a place for him to rest his tired feet. That’s when his daughter, Arlene, found Easter Seals Florida.
ESF is a non-profit organization that provides services to children, adults and veterans with disabilities and special needs, along with their caregivers. The organization proudly presents its Day Break at the Miller Center in Winter Park, Fla. to adults over 18 years of age with disabilities or special needs, and those with Alzheimer’s or other dementia-related disorders, in addition to those who are experiencing stroke recovery, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and mental illness. Francis, a proud veteran, now spends his days enjoying specialized care and recreational activities in this safe and warm environment.
As its name indicates, Day Break welcomes its guests during daytime hours. From Monday to Friday, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Day Break is open to allow family members and caregivers to continue working in the community knowing their loved one is in a safe, stimulating environment. Day Break presents a unique opportunity for its clients to be a part of a place to socialize and have a day full of meaningful activities.
“Easter Seals is a life savior to our family because it gives us time to take care of my siblings’ needs and gives Francis a place of familiarity,” said Arlene. “Being involved in group activities and receiving social stimulus helps him feel important as he did during his busiest years. We couldn’t ask for better care.”
In addition to its Day Break at the Miller Center, ESF also provides an Early Intervention program, vocational training and recreational services, including its famous Camp Challenge. Nationally, Easter Seals is the largest non-profit provider for services for individuals with autism, cognitive and physical disabilities, and other special needs.