Lives Changed

9 Women Catering

Tabitha : May 8, 2015 4:00 pm : Lives Changed, News, Vietnamese Program

9 Women Catering is an income generating program to help low-income Vietnamese families. Created by the women of the Vietnamese women’s support group, the group aims to create a safe and non-judgmental environment for women to express their feelings and their daily concerns. Within the group, Vietnamese women have the opportunity to gather every Monday at The Lighthouse for group discussion, development of life skills, and stress management skills. And on the last Monday of each month, the women gather to cook and share a meal together.

The women of the Vietnamese women’s support group began unofficially cooking 4 years ago for 30 students from Chatham High School, who visited The Lighthouse. It was a positive and successful experience which continues annually. Building upon their success, the women catered The Lighthouse’s Visioning Day, as well as Classis Toronto meetings.

Officially establishing 9 Women Catering in 2014, the group was chosen to cater The Lighthouse’s Annual Fundraising Dinner. In order to provide a safe and professional catering service, a professional chef, Steve, was invited to teach the women about safe food handling practices. Through this training, the participants are learning important life skills valuable for job search or self-employment, building an empowered group of women with positive leadership abilities for the Vietnamese community.

To find out more about The Lighthouse’s Vietnamese programs or about the 9 Women Catering group, please contact Thuy at 416-535-6262 or thuy@lighthousecentre.ca

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Through the Eyes of an Intern

Tabitha : February 24, 2015 3:30 pm : Lives Changed, News

“As a multi-cultural Christian outreach and community centre, The Lighthouse demonstrates God’s love by offering unconditional hospitality, by sharing our resources and by helping people in need.

We offer an atmosphere of respect, dignity and security in order to address spiritual, emotional and physical needs, all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

– The Lighthouse’s Mission Statement

As an intern at The Lighthouse over the past four months, I have witnessed first-hand the above mission statement in action as the staff and volunteers at the centre work together to embody the love of the gospel message. They are in essence the hands and feet of Jesus here on earth to many marginalized patrons in the downtown area as well as new comers to Canada particularly from China, Vietnam and Spanish-speaking regions of the world. It has been an exciting journey partnering with The Lighthouse for this season!

During this time I have had the privilege of observing some of what happens on a weekly basis with the Vietnamese programming and Food Bank operations. I was able to see the mutual respect between clients and staff as groups met to plan for catering events and discuss parenting skills. These groups met the concrete needs of clients in a safe and nurturing environment where they could discover the love and compassion of Jesus. Additionally, in my experience with the Food Bank operations, I was able to see the relational approach to ministry and individual attention and care given to each person who came through the doors. I could see the spirit behind Jesus’ words in Matthew 25 verses 35 and 40 at work through The Lighthouse ministries: For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,” indeed, Jesus goes on to say – just “as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Beyond these experiences, my main focus was to assist Rita Wong in the various facets of the Chinese ministry in Scarborough. This involved the implementation of English classes, the dancercise program and special outings such as apple picking and TTC tours. As a Canadian born Caucasian, this has truly been a cross-cultural experience for me! I have learned so much and have only seen a snap-shot of all Rita is involved in as she also ministers in Markham to a group of Chinese women, as well as to a group of children and their families in Scarborough particularly during the summer months. Beyond these groups there are individuals in these regions who seek the aid and care of The Lighthouse through Rita, and she continues to be involved in programming offered through the downtown centre. For example, during early spring she aids clients with their income tax returns – a service which many benefit from and would have difficulty with otherwise. Though much of Rita’s ministry takes place outside of The Lighthouse centre, it still very much embodies the mission of the centre by fostering community and offering hospitality to new comers from China who have settled in the Scarborough and Markham areas.

One of the Chinese ministries which I would like to highlight is the ESL program which occurs weekly out of a Chinese church in Scarborough. Of the ministries I have been a part of, I have had the most opportunity to enjoy friendship with these students who are about 60 in total. The majority of these students are seniors who find fellowship, community and hospitality through this ministry. The English teachers are all believers who integrate lessons of faith with lessons of grammar. The environment of love, care and compassion exemplifies the gospel message and once a month the Mandarin church hosts a worship service and meal after the classes to share the gospel with the students. This approach is both relational and culturally relevant with the tight-knit community environment fostering a safe place to explore the gospel. One of my favourite lessons was one in which Rita urged me to teach the past tense using the Christmas story found in Matthew. The students were engaged and interested in knowing the meaning behind Christmas. Beyond class time, special outings such as TTC tours provided opportunity to meet students’ needs while also providing a small-group context in which to deepen friendships.

Fewer things are more worthwhile than this, to be an instrument of God’s peace and hope in a world that does not know the love of the Father. According to Rita, approximately 80% of the students and 50 % of the dancercise class are not followers of Jesus – yet each week these programs provide opportunity to discover more about who God is and experience his love first-hand. I have been blessed and enriched by the time I have spent with Rita and the Chinese clients who have taught me more about community, sharing, hospitality and looking out for one another. I am grateful for this experience and pray that God would continue to bless the ministry of The Lighthouse through the care and support of donors like you. I also invite you as a reader to join in the vision and mission of The Lighthouse by getting involved and volunteering – you will be glad you did! Thank you for taking the time to read more about how God is at work in and through The Lighthouse,

May God bless and keep you!

Michelle Bauer
Student Intern Fall 2014

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“Mi casa:” Celebrando 16 años con mis amigos de la 3ra edad

Tabitha : February 22, 2015 3:00 pm : Lives Changed, News

“Mi Casa”, el cual comenzó hace más de 16 años luego de ver la necesidad en la comunidad hispana de crear un lugar para el adulto mayor donde pudiera compartir sus alegrías y tristezas y a la vez sentirse útil dentro de las actividades que el centro compartía.

Mi historia comienza hace más de 15 años cuando me invitaron a reemplazar una voluntaria en el banco de comida de Lighthouse. Luego ya pude integrarme al grupo “Mi Casa ”el cual se transformó en poco tiempo mi segunda familia. Fue después en ese mismo año que comencé a trabajar con diferentes actividades para este grupo de ancianos tales como paseos, artes plásticas, estudios de la biblia y grupos de conversación, También les ayude con buena información sobre los servicios en la comunidad Hispana pero lo más importante, fue y es el de compartir mi amistad y cuidado hacia ellos.

No puedo expresar con palabras todo el apoyo que este hermoso grupo ha significado para mi sin dejar correr lagrimas por mis mejillas y recordar todos los momentos de alegrías y tristezas que ellos compartieron conmigo, fueron en esos momento y aun hasta la fecha de gran apoyo para mi vida.

Cada vez que llego me reciben con un gran abrazo y me hacen sentir una persona Importante en sus vidas…Al comenzar en el grupo mi prioridad era servirles y aportar lo que se necesitara, pero al pasar el tiempo me di cuenta que además de yo entregar mis servicios recibía a cambio mucho amor y cada vez me sentía parte de un hermoso grupo, el cual siempre está en la disposición de acoger a todo aquel que lo necesita.

Ellos han formado un pilar muy importante en mi vida, la de mi esposo y mi hijo, ya que al dejar nuestro país solo con una maleta cargada de sueños y anhelos, nos enfrentamos a un nuevo comienzo, en donde el grupo nos brindó todo ese amor que dejamos atrás y nos ayudaron a que el tiempo de espera de nuestra situación migratoria se hiciera más corta y llevadera.

Por ultimo quiero agradecer a todo las personas que trabajan en The Lighthuose, en especial a nuestra coordinadora hispana Samia Saad por su gran apoyo y amor y además agradecerle a Dios por haberme permitido conocer mi segunda Familia “Mi Casa”

Doy Gracias a Dios por permitirme ser parte de este grupo y por haber conocido a mi segunda Familia.

-Irma Luque

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New Year – New Beginning

Tabitha : January 2, 2015 3:30 pm : Lives Changed, News

With the start of a New Year comes new beginnings and The Lighthouse offers a new beginning to many of our clients in need. For Linda, a mother who managed to escape domestic abuse and start a new life with her children (full story in Spring 2014 newsletter), this opportunity for a new beginning is the hope to which she has clung onto, as she remains resilient and positive in her ongoing journey. This is the continuation of Linda’s story as she remembered the birth of her new child in the spring of 2014.

Childbirth is one of the most stressful yet joyous moments in the journey of motherhood. It is a time of celebration with family and friends, and a time of sharing in the miracle of life. For Linda, this happy occasion was overshadowed by the feeling of overwhelming loneliness and worry. As the time of delivery approached, Linda was filled with dread, concerned with how she would cope and care for a newborn without the support of family and friends, and worried about the well-being of her elder daughter who was in foster care pending Linda’s discharge from Mount Sinai hospital. The following are extracts of Tiffany’s interview with Linda on her recent experience:

Color Picture 1“Childbirth was so difficult. With all the stress in my life, I knew that my pregnancy was not stable, and the delivery would not be easy. I felt quite sad and alone during my time at the hospital. I was placed in a room with 4 other ladies surrounded by their happy families. It became all the more obvious that I have no one with whom to share this time.

“During the birth, I bled a lot, and I ended up staying at the hospital for 4 days and 3 nights afterwards. After the birth, I was constantly dizzy and tired, basically lived on milk and cereal and unable to provide care to my newborn. Thankfully, Rita and her church friends visited me. They brought food and spent time with me every week, they even brought me clothes and magazines to read. They cared for me like family.

“As I was discharged from the hospital, I thought to myself, “How am I going to care for a newborn all by myself?” I was also worried about my older child feeling left out and neglected, as she was still under foster care. I wondered, “How is she going to cope with a younger sibling when she returns to my care?” I was very weak after being discharged, and then my newborn became sick from dehydration and was admitted into Sick Kids Hospital for observation. I felt terrible as a mother, like I was constantly letting my children down; I didn’t know what to do or how to fix this. And once again, Rita and her friends came to my assistance. With their weekly visits, I felt encouraged, and that I was strong enough to get through this for my children. They kindly gave me pointers and assistance with caring for my newborn, and donated $130 to help me financially through this difficult time. I am just so thankful for their ongoing support and care of me and of my children.”

Colored Picture 2This past autumn, Linda and her children finally settled into a family-friendly subsidized housing apartment. It is an affordable place where they can truly settle down and call Toronto home.

“Despite our success of escaping from an abusive home, I still look back and regret that I didn’t pick a better father for my children. But now I know I have to focus on moving forward, so that I can grow and mature to be a stronger person and mother for the well-being of my children. In the future, I want to go to school and church, make new friends and create a safe, happy and healthy life for me and my children. I am more than ready for a new beginning.” 

Please continue to pray and support Linda as she settles into her new home and prepares for another Canadian winter with her children. Contact Rita at 416-535-6262(ext.223) if you would like to know how you can be a blessing to Linda and her children.

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Lives Changed @ The Lighthouse

Tabitha : October 31, 2014 4:00 pm : Lives Changed, News

From our Vietnamese Summer Camp volunteers:

When I first began to volunteer at The Lighthouse, I did not intend to make any new friends or build any sort of relationship with others. My only goal at the time was to gain my volunteering hours, and have fun with Henry Tang and the kids. However as each day passed, I felt more open and comfortable with everyone and eventually ended up becoming great friends the other volunteers as well as the campers. I believe this is due to the fact that The Lighthouse is made up of such amazing people who are honest, reliable, respectful and fun. I feel as if we have all bonded into one big family, where everyone matters and we look after each other. I enjoyed the time I had at The Lighthouse and will definitely volunteer again next year and the year after and the year after that and the year after that year and so on. #lighthouse4life

– John Lee

I had a great experience working with The Lighthouse. Each family reminded me of how a well-constructed family should be. Through the camp, I have developed responsibility, commitment and leadership capabilities. I really hope to be able to volunteer for The Lighthouse next year to see how much the children have grown. Thank you.

– Alexander Do

I’d like to start off by saying that I had fun every single day of camp. For me, it was easier since there were only a few little kids in my group. But I’d like to try supervising a different age group next year. That means that I’ll be back next year! It’s really unique how The Lighthouse’s Vietnamese Summer Camp allows parents to stay and do activities with their kids. The volunteers were also amazing and fun to work with. Thank you for being an amazing coordinator along with Tabitha (summer student). I hope to see you all again at the Christmas event.

– Richard Vu

To hear more about the Vietnamese Ministry at The Lighthouse, RSVP to our Annual Dinner on Saturday November 8th, 2014! For more information about The Lighthouse’s Annual Dinner, head to our events page for details.

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