I am honored and humbled that the Erick’s Place program, My PJs, was recognized by the Courier Post yesterday. In a write-up by Christina Mitchell, the program was applauded for providing brand new pajamas to chronically ill children as well as other children in need.
The original article has been archived, so I am sharing it here:
During years of grief therapy, she was once asked, “What is Erick’s legacy?”
Today — six years after Smith retired from the job whose benefits paid Erick’s monstrous medical bills — the answer is pajamas.
A foundation named for her son and run by Smith and her second husband, Roosevelt, collects new, donated PJs for pediatric patients, more than 300 pairs over the last three years.
At the Camden County Library’s Voorhees branch tonight, volunteers are invited to help pack PJs for delivery to Cooper University Hospital.
Other recipients of Erick’s Place donations have included Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where Erick and his mother were regulars; Voorhees Pediatric Facility for chronically ill children, where he lived for six months; and Providence House domestic violence shelter in Delran.
“The need for pajamas of all sizes is just so imperative for our program,” says Rachel Johnston, community affairs coordinator for Providence. “(Erick’s Place) not only provided pajamas, but they included notes for the kids and things like joke books.
“It was over the top and very thoughtful.”
“It’s taken on a life of its own,” Smith marvels of the foundation, which administers three other programs geared toward medical needs.
“We just about lived at CHOP. I’m so grateful for that, and that’s why we’re doing what we do … to help those families that don’t have the resources we did.”
“She’s a good person,” Johnston says of Smith.
Smith replies she did what any parent would have over the years, despite the blaze that killed her young husband and eventually took their son.
“We moms,” she acknowledges, “we do what we have to do.”