This past May, Lighthouse Autism Center celebrated it’s seven year anniversary. It’s hard to believe we have been open seven years already. It seems like not all too long ago we were welcoming our first group of kiddos to our center in Mishawaka. Since then, we have grown so much, opening six centers and preparing to open a seventh. We have provided services to hundreds of kids and families and had the opportunity to work with some of the most wonderful and talented colleagues. While Lighthouse has grown and changed, our mission has remained the same – bringing quality, center-based ABA therapy to children and families in need. On this anniversary, we celebrate the joys and successes we have achieved together with our kiddos, families and staff, and look forward to the many more that lie ahead!
A word from our Executive Director
The holiday season is a wonderful time to reflect on our many blessings and seek ways to give back to others who may be less fortunate. Each year, Lighthouse Autism Center participates in a community service project. Past projects have included: sponsoring a Christmas dinner and gifts for few local families, providing a day of free child care for families who attend Lighthouse Autism Center, and working with local nonprofit organizations to collect whatever donations they may need.
This year, our newest center, in Portage, MI, organized their own community project. Angel Tree Toy Drive helped provide “angel tags” to the employees at our Portage center. Each Portage center employee purchased gifts for a member of a local family. The gifts were dropped off to the Salvation Army in local Kalamazoo and Portage area to families in need.
For three years in a row, the Lighthouse Families First Foundation has partnered with Hockey 4 Life to bring autism awareness to the local community and help families in need.
Hockey 4 Life, a non-profit organization of civic-minded hockey enthusiasts, seeks to raise funds for local organizations through an annual hockey tournament, raffles, and silent auctions. We sponsor the event by providing scorekeepers for each game at the tournament while also sharing information about autism to participants and spectators.
In our three years together, hockey 4 Life has donated nearly $7,000 to the Lighthouse Families First Foundation! Their generous support helps LFFF provide scholarships for children in need of ABA services, gas cards for families to take their children to medical appointments, iPads and communication software for nonverbal children, and anything else useful for a family with special needs.
We are so thankful to Hockey 4 Life for their partnership, compassion and generosity. They help us to make a positive difference in the autism community. If you’d like to learn more about Lighthouse Families First Foundation or apply for a grant, please visit www.lhfff.org.
The holiday season is quickly approaching, and here at Lighthouse Autism Center we are already focused on how we’ll give back to our families, employees, and community.
In November, we will host our biannual “Parent’s Day Out” where Lighthouse Autism Center remains open on Saturday with staff who volunteer to give their time to our families. Parents are invited to drop off all of their children – and not just those who attend our center – and take the evening to do some holiday shopping, go to a movie, or simply relax. As a parent of a child with autism, I know how welcome and appreciated this is by our families.
Employees will have the opportunity to participate in an all-staff Christmas Party at the Oaks. This allows employees from all of our centers to come together and enjoy a potluck dinner, music, games and prizes. After a year of hard work and dedication to our center and the children we serve, it’s our goal to recognize our employees and show them how appreciated they truly are.
Finally, we feel it is important to give back to our local community during the holiday season. We will continue our tradition of adopting several families in need and providing gifts and essentials for them through what we call our “Giving Tree.” Employees and families at all centers come together to purchase clothing, food, household items, toiletries, toys and gifts. We wrap and deliver these items to our adopted families in an effort to give back to those less fortunate.
April was Autism Awareness month, which made it an extra special time for those of us in the autism community. To celebrate, we participated in several fundraising events while also collecting donations for the Lighthouse Families First Foundation. The LHFFF allows us to help special needs children, adults, and their families outside of Lighthouse’s capabilities by giving 100 percent of the money raised to help those we assist.
On April 15, the Lighthouse staff volunteered at the annual Hockey 4 Life tournament. This group of civic-minded hockey enthusiasts raises money each year with their weekend-long event, which includes hockey games, a silent auction and a raffle. We helped keep score during the tournament while also passing out information on Autism Awareness to participants and spectators.
One of our Mishawaka Lighthouse Autism Center neighbors, Evil Czech Brewery and Public House, also promoted Autism Awareness to their customers throughout April. This included “A Night of Awareness” on April 21, which we co-hosted with Evil Czech for the second time. On that night, Evil Czech donated 10 percent of all its sales to special needs families in the northern Indiana area. The event raised over $2,200 that will go directly to helping families in the area.
We can’t thank these groups, businesses and all those who participated enough for their compassionate generosity and support. Because of you, we’re able to make a positive difference in the lives of special needs children or adults and their families.