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Lighthouse Mission Brought Tears to my Eyes

The lighthouse Mission is succeeding in breaking a vicious cycle of dysfunctional friends, and dysfunctional neighborhoods, creating dysfunctional children and young adults.

The Lighthouse mission, in Bellport, NY, runs a Youth Program for children and young adults, that helps to bridge the gap between a street mentality, and a civil mentality that promotes positive thoughts and actions. Unfortunately poverty breeds crime, guns, gangs, and drugs! The lighthouse Mission is succeeding in breaking a vicious cycle of dysfunctional friends, and dysfunctional neighborhoods, creating dysfunctional children and young adults.

The Lighthouse Mission runs Five youth and adult programs for ages: 18 Months through 4 years old, Kindergarten through 4th grade, grades 1 through 5, grades 6 through 10, and a young adult homework help group, up to grade 12.

Most of the children and young adults that frequent the mission are from local Homeless shelters. These days, the Homeless Shelter has become the norm rather than the exception. A countless number of hard working people lost their Jobs because of the economy. These days, the Homeless shelter is on veryone’s Radar Screen.

I was invited to observe the grade 1 to grade 5, youth program session; and was completely “blown away,” with what I witnessed! The children socialized under a closely supervised group of volunteers. I was amazed to see Police Officers helping the children. Traditionally Police Officers are considered “the enemy,” in dysfunctional areas. The constant police participation in this youth program, has caused the children to perceive the police as friends instead of adversaries.

I saw a young child make a decorated paper bag, during a “craft session,” and give it to a police officer as a gift. At this point in time, tears came from my eyes! The police officer was also showing an emotional response; this simple gift was symbolic of a positive change in the perception of the Police Department, by our youth.  Not too long ago the area kids used to throw rocks at the police cars; now the Police are being perceived as friends! How wonderful!

The kids do crafts, play games, and are given food for lunch. In many cases this will be the only food that this child will receive all day.

Quoting Pastor Jim Ryan, ”Abuse, drugs, gangs, and crime is a real part of these children’s lives.  We try to teach them that, Just because you come from that crazy lifestyle, it doesn’t mean that you have to be part of it.”

The Mission is a Christian based group; but instead of asking the children to say a canned prayer, the children are asked to write their own prayer! All  prayers are entered into a “Prayer book.”  I was given the opportunity to read the Prayer Book.

One kid wrote “take care of my family.

“ Another kid wrote; “keep my family safe and encourage me to
do better.” Another child wrote; “Make my mom better.”

Another youth wrote; “for my mom to find a job.”

Another child wrote; “for my mom’s foot to get better.”

Another wrote; “for my mom not to get sick again.

Children may act awkward, and speak in a non- articulate manner, but their minds are as sound as a rock. The prayer s above demonstrate that these children are indeed reacting to their environment.  Children are not at all disconnected or stupid. Our children’s emotional stature could be more advanced than we give them credit for. This is scary! Is it possible that all of us should have been better parents?

I am probably the world’s worst cynic; after visiting their youth program, I have become a believer. The lighthouse Mission has indeed had a profound effect on the lives of hundreds of our young people. Children learn by imitation, and are indeed being steered in the right direction by the Lighthouse Mission.

The Lighthouse Mission is not funded by the government, and depends totally on donations. In addition to the youth program, the Lighthouse Mission
distributes food to 4,000 people every month, 12 months a year. The Mission
also distributes clothing for those in need.  

This group is not like some of the mainstream charities that show up with a food wagon for a week and soon disappear. The Lighthouse mission is there for the people 365 days a year, every year. I cannot imagine an organization more deserving of your support. If you can help with your monetary contribution, please call (631) 758 7584; also look at their Web site for program details; www.LighthouseMission.net

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jo Miller February 18, 2013 at 03:03 PM
Ben, thank you for this heartwarming blog. It reminds us that even a small group can make a big difference
Annabella Veliz February 19, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I am a Volunteer for the lighthouse Mission. Everybody here are amazing, gifted by God our Lord doing an amazing job for God.
Ben Vitale May 21, 2013 at 09:23 PM
This article was inadvertently re-published to the front page of "Patch" because of an edit, to correct "system errors." "But again! Lighthouse Mission is a wonderful group, that has done many wonderful things."

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