The mission of SML Good Neighbors is to develop good neighbors' skills and values in children through programs that nourish, educate and support them while providing life-changing experiences for college students through internships. The vision for SML Good Neighbors emerged from conversations about hunger among members of several local church congregations around Smith Mountain Lake. Begun in 2006 as a sack lunch and weekend food bag program for students in several area schools, SML Good Neighbors grew the following year into a summer day camp program that addresses elementary school students’ educational and nutritional needs.
During the school year, many children receive free or reduced cost lunches, but these meals are not available when school is out for the summer. Parents often cannot afford to pay for summer enrichments (such as trips to museums, or educational camps) and many children thus suffer the “summer slide”—a significant loss of reading and math skills over the summer. In addition to educational programs during the 4 weeks of camp, campers receive at the end of each week food bags and free books to keep.
Carefully selected college interns from across the country and the world are the classroom teachers for summer enrichment camps. Many of them are Bonner Scholars who are committed to community service. All foster a love for learning and healthy living through example and mentorship with the campers.
In addition to summer enrichment camps, SML Good Neighbors also offers after-school activities (including theater programs) in public elementary schools located in rural communities around our offices and house in Bedford County.
In 2022, thanks to a generous donor and additional gifts, SML Good Neighbors launched the Nancy Horton Scholarship. Each year, two high school seniors in Bedford or Franklin Counties receive scholarships to support attending trade school, community college, or a 4-year institution.
- All SML Good Neighbors' programs are offered at no cost to children's families.
- Since 2008, more than 1,000 students in Bedford County have benefited from SML Good Neighbors' Summer Enrichment Camps.
- We served nearly 300 children through 2023 summer enrichment camps in Franklin and Bedford counties, and sent home 900 weekend food bags.