The parking lot traffic at Schmidt’s Market on North Sea Road in Southampton has been known to cause headaches, but future patrons can look forward to brighter memories from the blacktop. Starting in July, Schmidt’s will begin honoring one local hero per month by displaying a roughly 72 by 55 inch portrait outside the Schmidt’s building, distributing a short biography in the store and by creating a custom hero sandwich and naming it after the honoree.
The project, titled “Celebrating Our Local Heroes,” is being organized by Jennifer Meihofer of Spirit Catcher Studios, with the help of her husband Dennis Schmidt, the owner of Schmidt’s Market.
The project is aimed at celebrating the community that has supported Schmidt’s for more than three decades, said Ms. Meihofer, adding that she specifically wants to honor “people who have made a difference, but who aren’t necessarily in the spotlight.”
After each month, the portraits will be taken down and kept by Ms. Meihofer, who said that an eventual goal is “to put together a book” and at some point “create a larger body display.”
To choose the honorees, Ms. Meihofer is relying almost entirely on the community. She plans to put a suggestion box up in Schmidt’s where people can enter names they think deserve recognition. For the first local hero, Ms. Meihofer took her husband’s suggestion and decided to honor Brenda Simmons.
Ms. Simmons is known across the East End for her service to the community and more recently for being the assistant to Southampton Mayor Mark Epley. Among the many things that Ms. Simmons has achieved, what stood out most in her biography was her work as a counselor for Southampton College’s Higher Opportunity Education Program, her service as director of the Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk County, her co-founding of the East End African American Museum and her hosting “Voices of Wisdom” on Cablevison’s Channel 20.
Ms. Simmons, who described herself as a humble person, was “a little skeptical” about having her face on the side of Schmidt’s, but after some thought she decided to go through with it.
She said that she’s doing it to leave “a legacy for my family and for my community” and she added that she’ll be proud to show her granddaughter, who works in Southampton, too.
“Where I am today,” she said, “should be an inspiration for anybody and everybody” and she added the advice, “Don’t give up.”
Ms. Simmons’s portrait was set to be unveiled on Tuesday, July 2, and her custom hero will be a Jamaican curry chicken sandwich. For more information, visit Spirit Catcher Studios on Facebook.