Pete is an IT Professional living in South Florida. He has worked for a number of electronic publishing firms in Boston, New York, Michigan and Virginia, including many startups and early stage companies. His avid interests include guitar, yoga, sailing and vegetarian cooking. I learned about Hugs and Smiles at an art gallery event that Tina was participating in 2019. Right away I could tell how passionate she was about her mission. This was definitely the kind of endeavor you wanted to see succeed. Every mission like this needs money and help to thrive. So I offered a few hours a week of my time. It's amazing how much she's accomplished online without being IT professional herself, so mostly my help has been to pitch in here and there to tweek the Hugs and Smiles online presence.
I grew up in a lower income town in Massachusets raised by a single mother. But even in the over-crowded and under-funded public high school I went to in the 60s and 70's, there were full sports, music and arts programs for everyone who wanted them. The entries in my yearbooks are filled with photos of plays, musical performances, art exhibits, competitions and other adventures. Where has that gone? What kind of person would I be if I didn't have those outlets growing up? I hesitate to guess, and I wonder about today's kids who's formative years are starved of that opportunity. My own kids had those same opportunities in the 90's and later, but only because of the resources that wealthier school districts are able to afford.
Tina's vision for Hugs and Smiles will go a long way to correct for that lack of opportunity and help kids that need it the most.