A Community of Support Through The Light House and Open Table

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,

Fred

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 kmcnally@annapolislighthouse.org or (443) 569-4212.

Volunteer Spotlight: Walter

Walter has been volunteering at The Light House for over 9 years, and for the last 7 years has been volunteering in our kitchen 5 days a week, every week, helping serve lunch to residents and community clients.

Walter, a life-long Annapolitan, retired basketball coach, and dedicated Light House volunteer, was also a Light House resident many years ago at our original shelter location. Before coming to The Light House, Walter had been working the same job for 25 years. He was approaching retirement when circumstances derailed his plans and he ended up struggling with homelessness. At The Light House he was able to receive food, shelter, and case management. His client advocate was able to place him in sustainable housing, resolve issues with his retirement benefits, and soon he was back on track.

With determination to make the most of his retirement years, Walter has dedicating much of his time to our Light House food programs. He has volunteered a total of almost 2,000 days, and has served over 118,000 meals to the community! A big thank you to Walter for being a light for our neighbors!

Announcement: Three Ways To Help Us Fill Our Pantry!

Our food pantry is low on certain items and we need your help to ensure that we can continue to provide food to those struggling with homelessness and poverty.

To help, you can:

Donate online through our Amazon Wish List: https://bit.ly/2KDiVMf

Hold a food drive and download the flyer: https://bit.ly/2Ns201x

Purchase and drop off the following items:

  • Cases of Bottled Water (16oz bottles)
  • Fruit Juice (100% fruit)
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Diced Tomatoes
  • Pancake Mix
  • Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • Hamburger Helper

Donate anything in the list above, 24/7 by dropping them off at 10 Hudson Street in Annapolis. Thank you for your support!

Announcement: Free Yoga Sessions at The Light House

Our staff, volunteers, and clients have been loving these healthy and healing sessions. Thank you to instructor Leslie Gibbons, founder of Root To Rise Yoga, and to Nature Sacred for making this possible by generously sponsoring two yoga sessions per month!

Upcoming Dates:

September 12th at 12 PM
September 26th at 7 PM

October 10th at 12 PM
October 24th at 7 PM

RSVP to Kait Dawson at kdawson@annapolislighthouse.org, and be sure to bring your own yoga mat and water bottle. All are welcome!

Client Spotlight: Rebecca

“In 2013 I had moved to Maryland with desperation for a much-needed change in my life. Unwilling to fully surrender to my addiction I was lost and hopeless. My husband had just died resulting from a fatal overdose and with devastation in my heart I used drugs to cope. My life had become unmanageable to the point where I felt rock bottom had a basement. After successfully entering and completing treatment, I contacted The Light House and was accepted into the B.E.S.T. Culinary Program. I finally had career goals and my path made sense. Contacting The Light House was one of the best decisions I had made in a long time. I had the opportunity to learn and give back to others in need at the same time. That feeling was priceless…

“Thank you to The Light House for being a foundation to build on, to the volunteers for providing their time to a place of hope, and to the residents for showing me that no matter what obstacles you may be faced with, there’s always something to be grateful for…The Light House and B.E.S.T. Program have shown me that anything is possible if you are open minded and willing to learn. It can be done, I just did it!” – Rebecca, B.E.S.T. Culinary Graduate

In The New: Light House B.E.S.T. Graduation Featured in Capital Gazette

Light House Celebrates Training Graduation

Mayor Gavin Buckley was the keynote speaker at The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center’s graduation for their 19th Class of Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.) students. The B.E.S.T. program is a 16-week job-training program for people impacted by homelessness and poverty that provides hands-on training in Culinary Arts or Facilities Maintenance and Landscaping. With this 19th class, The Light House has graduated a total of 309 students since it began in 2011. 100 percent of these graduates have passed their rigorous exit exams, qualifying them for gainful employment in Anne Arundel County and beyond.

During the ceremony, each student gave a moving speech about their personal journey, what they learned during their time in the program, and their hopes and plans for the future. The May 24th event at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis brought together Light House volunteers, donors, important city and county officials, and friends and family of the graduates. The sanctuary was filled with attendees eager to celebrate the positive path these graduates are now on, and their determination to overcome their barriers.

The Light House Reflects on the Capital Gazette Tragedy

Dear Light House Community,

We are deeply saddened by the tragic event at The Capital newspaper office yesterday where five lives were taken: Gerald Fischman, Rob Hiaasen, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, and Wendi Winters. Our hearts go out to all the families and to our entire community which is shaken by this loss.

The Capital Gazette team works tirelessly to report on stories and issues that impact our organization and community. We honor those we have lost and the entire Capital Gazette team for their service to our community through true journalistic integrity.

Our staff, clients, and supporters would like to take a moment to remember Wendi Winters for her years of dedication to our organization. For many years, Wendi had been a caring and compassionate member of our Light House family. We are forever grateful for her volunteer work serving meals in our kitchen, and her heartfelt efforts and determination to tell the stories of those struggling with homelessness and poverty. She was also a frequent diner at our Light House Bistro.

Her many “Home of the Week” articles that featured Light House residents ( https://bit.ly/2KxcStE) were a window into the issues and people we serve every day. Her enthusiasm, generosity of spirit, and genuine kindness in her reporting of these stories will not be forgotten. The Light House cares for individuals and families when they are at their most vulnerable, and Wendi understood and respected this. She brought professionalism and an open heart to every interview. She cared deeply that our residents were shown as the valuable, beautiful, and complex individuals they are. We honor her today, and hope that her light will continue to shine through us.

As we grieve, our entire Light House community holds the family, friends, and loved ones of those lost in this tragedy in our hearts.

With love,
The Light House Family

Client Quote: Tim

“The B.E.S.T. Program was the next step I took after going through treatment. I was determined to do something new and positive. At The Light House I was able to learn, grow, and start on a new path. Now I can build a better life for myself. Thank you to everyone who believed in me and encouraged me when I needed it most.” – Tim, Graduate of The Light House B.E.S.T. Culinary Program

In The News: Light House celebrates having graduated 300 employment training students

Mayor Gavin Buckley was the keynote speaker at The Light House Homeless Prevention Support Center’s graduation for their 19th Class of Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.) students.

Light House Employment Training Program Awarded $5,000 State Farm Grant

The Light House is pleased to announce a grant award of $5,000 from State Farm for their Building Employment Success Training (B.E.S.T.) Program, an entry-level workforce development program for people impacted by homelessness and poverty. To kick off this new partnership, State Farm representatives visited The Light House to meet with Light House staff, toured the facilities, and learned about the programs and services provided by the organization. During their visit, State Farm Agent, Debbie Hart, also dropped off 20 bags of pantry items that had been collected during their recent State Farm food drive, stating that “State Farm is here to help things go right and whatever I can do to further that mission, especially in my community, is my pleasure.”

The Light House is deeply grateful for State Farm’s significant investment in the B.E.S.T. Program and looks forward to building a lasting partnership. The B.E.S.T. Program provides rigorous job-focused, hands-on learning modules that include paid in-house training in Culinary Arts or Facilities Maintenance. Case management, addictions counseling, and social service support are also provided during the 16-week comprehensive skills training program.

The B.E.S.T. Program has trained over 300 people since 2012, with 100 percent of graduates having passed their rigorous exit exams, qualifying them for gainful employment in Anne Arundel County and beyond. The Light House provides emergency shelter, food, clothing, case management and other vital homelessness prevention and support services to over 2,000 community members in need each year. This important work is only possible thanks to the generosity of their community and companies like State Farm.

Photo: (L-R) State Farm Public Affairs Field Specialist – DC Metro, Delaware, Maryland, Dwayne Redd, Light House Director of Development, Jenny Crawford, Light House Culinary Assistant and Former B.E.S.T. Culinary Graduate, Liz Fleury, State Farm Agent, Debbie Hart, LTCP, RICP, State Farm Sales Leader for the Annapolis Sales Territory, Tawana Mensah, and Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Arts Training, Linda Vogler