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Streets of Schenectady, NY Flooded with People Showing their Community Pride by Lining Up for a Mile

August 12, 2015 (Schenectady, NY) – The challenge is on! Over a thousand people lined the streets of Downtown Schenectady to show off their community pride and to support Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County. Showing off smiley faces, signs and banners, the community came together to show their pride for Schenectady, donate to Habitat for Humanity, and challenge communities around the world to do the same.

By 10:30 AM on August 12, State Street was flooded with community members representing businesses, neighborhoods and other organizations wearing smiley face t-shirts and holding up signs to support all of the positive things going on in the community.

This officially marked the first mile in the Miles of Smiles, a global initiative to spread smiles around the world. Miles of Smiles is challenging communities across the globe to show their smiles in a photo or video and support their local Habitat for Humanity chapters through donations.

“It’s all about community pride,” said Jeff Goronkin of Buzz Media Solutions. “In Schenectady, we lined up for a mile but anyone or any group, in any community can show off their pride with a simple smile and by posting it to social media with the hashtag, #MilesOfSmiles. We want to encourage people to use their creativity to show the world their smile and support their local Habitat for Humanity chapter.”

The mile was kicked-off in front of the MVP Health Care building where Ellen Sax, director of community engagement at MVP, welcomed everyone to the event. Community leaders, including Mayor of Schenectady Gary McCarthy and New York State Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, provided opening remarks.

“Schenectady is a city rich in history and Miles of Smiles is shining a positive light on all of its accomplishments,” said Mayor Gary McCarthy. “We are so fortunate to have residents and business who are creative and passionate.”

“We love every opportunity we get to showcase what we believe is special about Schenectady. Miles of Smiles demonstrates just how passionate our community is and we’re going to use this passion to build momentum and encourage others around the world to do the same,” said Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara.

Immediately following the event, MVP Health Care donated $1000 to Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County.

Madelyn Thorne, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Schenectady County also welcomed media and those in attendance and thanked them for their support.

Before sending the procession down State Street, Goronkin challenged other communities to get involved and show off what makes them smile. “We would love to see the smiles become contagious and spread throughout the county and across the globe. This is a feel-good initiative that can easily be replicated in creative ways throughout the world. It doesn’t have to be a mile, it can be as simple as a few smiles,” he said.

At 11:00 AM sharp, the Mile of Smiles was off! The procession was led by a fire truck and followed by a float decorated in smiley faces from end to end carrying dignitaries and the media down State Street. Even the Capital Region’s own Smile Ambassador, the Smile Monster showed up in his Smile Mobile to join the procession.

Cameras were lined up across the mile to capture all of the smiles. As the procession made it’s way down State Street, everyone cheered while smiling from ear to ear. The procession ended at Schenectady County Community College.

“Schenectady is a very cohesive city. ‘Miles of Smiles’ is a celebration of the wonderful community we are all a part of.  It is quite powerful to have everyone gather to spread our infectious smiles onto the world around us,” said Martha Asselin, vice president of student affairs at Schenectady County Community College. “At Schenectady County Community College learning and smiling are done simultaneously.”

Many local groups and volunteers were involved in the planning and execution of the big day including Buzz Media Solutions, neighborhood representatives, the Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp., The Capital Region Chamber, City Hall, The Millennial Council, Proctors, MVP Health Care, Schenectady County Community College, the police and fire departments, Open Stage Media, Paul Mitchell, Legere Restorations, and The Daily Gazette.

“Everyone wants to feel great about where they live, work and play, and an event like Miles of Smiles gave Schenectady a fun and creative outlet to accentuate the positive,” said Jim Salengo, Downtown Schenectady Improvement Corp.’s executive director. “We love to see people smile while enjoying the many fantastic things to see and do in downtown, and today our district was smiling from end to end… literally!”

“As advocates for businesses on all levels, the chamber is always looking for ways to promote Schenectady. Miles of Smiles is a perfect way to put Schenectady on the map as a vibrant and innovative community,” said Chuck Steiner, president of The Capital Region Chamber.

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