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Creativity Connects Milford: Meet Joan Smeland, Founder of Walks with Buddy

Creativity Connects Milford

What fuels a vibrant, connected, and creative community? What makes people feel good about living in Milford?

When locals share the creativity that they uncover in the nooks and crannies of their community it brings about connectivity and makes us all feel good. Believe it or not, you discover creativity every day as you walk, shop, work, and play in Milford. 

Creativity Connects us.

Meet Joan Smeland, founder of Walks with Buddy.

Any Place in town where you go for inspiration and creativity?

Milford has many facets; the beauty of the Downtown Green with the charm and reminders of History, the woods and trails that sit north of the Post Road, the Audubon and the 19 miles of coastline that embraces the city, with a harbor that is simply incredible. I find the most creativity personally on the coastline and beaches. Daily walking at dawn every morning on one of the beaches brings the appreciation of the day ahead.

 Is there a person or organization using creativity to provoke change in Milford?

There is a beauty in Milford that comes from the people within the city that I grew up in. Milford has the charm and an energy to want to Be Better and do things to help others. Walks with Buddy, Inc, a 501 (c) 3, that raises awareness for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention, has met many people and organizations through the years, Beth-El, Milford Prevention Council & Alexander Jordan Jamieson Foundation to name a few.  As we walked all the streets in the City, we created Events to Raise Awareness and Funds for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention. 

Together with my dog Buddy, I created an event that kicks off Suicide Prevention week in September called Walk Milford Challenge. It is an event like no other and has two goals. The first is the raise awareness and funds for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention. The second is to have the Entire City of Milford walk simultaneously for a few hours. We created 162 throughout the city.  You simply go out and walk your neighborhood on a specific day, track the walk and send it in (along with photos of you, your group walking along).  Following the walk, a gathering that takes place with music, yoga, meditation, stretch/chair massage and more - all things that can help a person with their overall mental health. This year will be the 3rd event on September 13! Each year it is getting bigger and more streets are being walked. 

There is another event that launched in the middle of the pandemic called Milford Coastline Challenge & Music Fest for Mental Health to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month in May. Both events adhere to social distancing. This challenge is to walk the Milford Coastline in 42 hours. The event raised $1,600 (without having the gathering!). 

For both community events, Walks with Buddy, Inc has partnered with Milford Prevention Council and Alexander Jordan Jamieson Foundation. 

Is there an organization in town that makes you feel good?

Buddy, Dash and I are connected to the Beth-el Shelter here in Milford. They love to visit the shelter and bring donations. Buddy’s last visit was to Beth-el to bring some paper products to them. The work being done for the homeless and getting them back on their feet is amazing.

The director, Jennifer Paradis is always looking for ways to get the message out through education and creative endeavors. The boys always love to go there.

How does creativity connect you to Milford?

Milford is the “Small City with a Big Heart”. You can find many who want to get involved. To be able to see an amazing landscape and create challenges is incredible. Milford is an amazing city and the landscape, events around holidays, the charm of the downtown, and the most amazing coastline to see the beauty of the sunrise or sunset. Buddy and Dash have had appointments with Mayor Blake and it has always been productive on raising awareness through unique events.

When I think of creativity in Milford I think of ...

I think truly of the charm and the coastline, there is no other place that offers the diversity of nature. Wooded trails, coastlines, downtown, the Audubon and the harbor are all a quick drive. Truly blessed to see the sunrise and walk there daily.

Buddy has walked the entire City of Milford once and we are in the process of walking it again with his brother, Dash. Buddy walked with us for 803 streets before going over the rainbow bridge at almost 14 years old. Dash and I will continue with the mission to raise awareness and funds with the events Walk Milford Challenge & Milford Coastline Challenge. 

Creativity Connects Milford is made possible by LIFEWTR.

If you have local creativity to share and would like to be featured in this series, feel free to email  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of HamletHub or LIFEWTR.

 

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