Last year, The Light House provided emergency and transitional housing to 187 individuals and 18 families, including 34 children. Each person or family in our Residential Program is unique and brings individual strengths and challenges with them. During their time at The Light House, residents are provided with food, clothing, a safe space to live, a wide variety of programs, and integrated case management through their Client Advocate. Our Residential Program enables residents to rebuild their lives, address their barriers, and begin a path towards self-sufficiency. But what happens when they leave The Light House? The first year of independence can be extremely challenging, but our hope is that they continue to grow and become more self-reliant each day.
With this hope in mind, The Light House began the Open Table model to support our residents transitioning out of the shelter. Open Table is about offering transformational relationships to build a supportive community, called a “Table”, for one of our individual or family residents. Tables consist of 6-12 volunteers who make a one-year commitment to serve as life specialists, encouragers, and advocates for the individual being served (referred to as a “Brother” or “Sister”). Tables are made up of regular people – not experts – who have a desire to serve their Brothers and Sisters by being open, non-judgmental, giving and receiving friendship, and building trust that creates positive outcomes. The Table experience is life-changing for all who participate, and actively transforms communities through mutual relationships.
One of our congregations which has been paired with a former resident, shared the following letter about their experience working with Light House and Open Table.
My name is Fred and I’m a Mission Leader for Open Table through The Light House. Our “table” is formed out of Revolution Church in Annapolis with 9 people. We were matched with a “Sister” who has recently gone through the Emergency Residential Program at The Light House and is currently in transitional housing. We’ve been meeting with her as a Table since May of this year. Her stated goals include financial security, physical health, and general support in her life situations. We have assisted her in practical matters such as transportation and support regarding her job.
Open Table is a relationship-centered program and even though we have offered some practical suggestions over the last 4 months, our primary success has been building a sense of family and spiritual community with her. She is not our project. She is a person with unique assets and challenges and personality – as are the members of our Table. Trust and friendship have been our focus. Starting this month, we will be shifting to have our Sister set the agenda and lead the meetings, and we will also have new group-building and teaching times.
Through this process, we as a Table have grown as individuals, committed to love and respect, guarding simplistic solutions and “fixing.” We each have learned a lot about ourselves in this process.
Grateful and growing,
For additional information about the program please visit www.theopentable.org.
To learn how your group or congregation can support individuals or families as they transition out of The Light House, please contact Kris McNally, Director of Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (443) 569-4212.