Updated: Jan 21
It is so deeply important to periodically stop and remember. We can be such forgetful people and can forfeit so much joy in letting both pain and celebration pass us by without thought! This is why Jesus commands us in scripture to do things in remembrance of him, because we often need to be reminded of what is right before us. At Lower Lights, much has shifted in this last year, and there is so much to celebrate! We wanted to take a moment to reflect on some of these things, as well as look forward to a hopeful future with all we have planned for 2022.
Here are some of the reasons we are celebrating 2021!
Another Recovery Housing Unit
This year we added another housing unit to our drug recovery center, bringing us to a total of 20 recovery beds! This is specifically used for our program graduates as a "sober living" house so residents can be more independent while staying connected to the LLM supportive community.
Celebration of Hope
We were able to host COH for the first time in 2 years. This annual celebration tells a compelling story of how creating safe places and quality program options allows for amazing growth and transformation, as we gather around a special meal together. It was such a beautiful celebration! Watch the powerful story we shared that night here.
New Staff Members
Throughout the year we grew and welcomed new staff! Bre joined Recovery, Gene joined Property management, and Sarah joined Philanthropy. We are so grateful for what they add to our ministry!
Growing Kids Program
Bright Light Kids had several new faces join the program this year, and real change is evident in many of them. One child in particular who wanted nothing to do with school or the program has since fallen in love with both through having a mentor. His school counselor even asked about it because he was a whole new kid this year! He goes to school every day, participates in class, made so many new friends, and he even won student of the week!
30th Birthday Celebration
2021 was the year that Lower Lights turned 30 years old! It was a wonderful time to reflect and celebrate. Thank you to our many, many donors and volunteers who helped us reach this new decade.
In 2020, many of our partnerships lost momentum and disconnection came about, but in 2021, we’ve been able to reconnect with many organizations, as well as build relationships with new ones! Many of you have commented on the beautiful relationship Columbus Police Officers have developed by engaging with our Bright Lights Kids program. It is hard to overstate the power of this wonderful partnership.
Moms Regained Custody of Their Children
Several women were able to reconnect with children this year. On Mothers Day they had a photoshoot with their children for the first time! Professional photographs were taken and printed as a gift to celebrate the reunion.
Program Graduates Doing Great Things
25% of the staff of Lower Lights are program graduates. It is wonderful to watch our graduates become forces for good in the world today. One graduate, a survivor of human trafficking, serves on the board of a non-profit serving those women. We’ve had one just return to college as part of her ordination process, and another, after years of faithful service as a house manager, return home to minister to her grateful family, and the list goes on.
A Hopeful Future Ahead!
In a difficult 2021, we still found so much to celebrate and be grateful for. As the year drew to a close, many of you gave so generously to our year-end giving campaign to bring a Fresh Start to many lives in 2022. Here are a few big ways we are moving forward into 2022.
As a response to COVID in 2020, we identified a major need for low income families to be able to secure quality, living wage employment. As a result, in 2021 we ran a pilot program called TEP, Transitional Employment Program. This great program allows those in our housing programs to secure a job with Lower Lights that teaches them a specific skill, pays a good wage and gives them a great reference on applications. The pilot program went so well, we have plans to increase those served by 125% in 2022.
Mom & Me Program
As COVID sought to disrupt and tear apart families throughout 2020, Lower Lights identified a major need: secure, safe housing for the most vulnerable in our society-the children. In 2021, Our family housing program began a new service for women with substance use disorder who found themselves pregnant. Mom and Me seeks to give a voice and focus to infants, securing for them a great first year in a single-family home, fully stocking and surrounding them by trained staff and volunteers. 2021 saw 3 infants served, and with funding from the Department of Health and donations from our Fresh Start campaign, we plan to increase that number in 2022.
Child Enrichment Center
Finally, Lower Lights announced at Celebration of Hope their vision for Child Enrichment Center in 2022. It will be a quality early childhood education center, not only providing excellent pre-school servicesallow but childcare and after-school programming for kids from birth to age 12. Our unique model will also address multiple issues of disparity and provide exciting opportunities for children and families alike. Watch our newsletters carefully for more information and exciting opportunities to be involved in this great Fresh Start for 2022.
To all who have helped bring dreams to completion as well as spark new ones - THANK YOU! God is doing wonderful things, and we are so excited to continue working with you to build hope and transform lives.
- All of us at LLM