Lives Changed

Love + Teamwork = Lives Changed

Tabitha : October 17, 2014 4:00 pm : Lives Changed, News

Love + Teamwork = Lives Changed
by Yao Dan Cao and Tabitha Peiris

The Lighthouse was very busy this past summer, especially in hosting our three summer camps: the Chinese children’s summer camp, the Hispanic family camp and the Vietnamese family camp. Each summer camp is unique with respect to the community it serves, how it is run and its key goals. Although each camp is distinctive from the others, the three camps often share in their philosophies, strategies and resources. For example, while the art therapy program was initially introduced as a sort of pilot project for the Hispanic family summer camp, for the first time this year, due to the success of art therapy in identifying and addressing certain emotional and social difficulties, the Vietnamese family camp augmented its programming by hosting an art therapy workshop. All three camps also share the holistic philosophy of The Lighthouse in the planning and implementation of their programs, that is to say, the programs seek to resolve underlying problems experienced by camp participants by addressing not only their more immediate physical needs but also their social, emotional and spiritual needs.

For this newsletter, we’ve interviewed a selection of our volunteers and participants to share with you their observations and experiences in how The Lighthouse’s summer camps have impacted the lives of their participants, including themselves. We had the pleasure of interviewing Tracy, a long-time volunteer of the Vietnamese family camp, Maira, a participant in the Hispanic camp, and Anita, a volunteer of the Chinese camp. Here is what they had to say

  1. How did you come into contact with The Lighthouse?

Tracy – I was asked by a friend to help out with the Lighthouse in 2011. They needed someone to do arts and crafts with the kids, so they asked me to do it, and I volunteered. So I’ve been helping at the Lighthouse with Tabitha [Tabitha Peiris, summer student and regular volunteer] and Tracy [Tracy Dang, Vietnamese Administrative Assistant] whenever they asked me to.

Maira – A long time ago, fifteen years ago, my friend invited me to one of The Lighthouse’s Christmas parties, and that’s where I first met Samia [Samia Saad, Hispanic Counsellor and Program Coordinator].

Anita – I came into contact with The Lighthouse through Rita Wong [Chinese Counsellor and Program Coordinator], whom I got to know when I was seconded to her church. (I was seconded to Toronto Chinese Alliance Church on 1st Avenue while working with Child Evangelism Fellowship). I was reaching out to the unreached children in that Chinatown area.

  1. How has The Lighthouse assisted you? (If applicable)

Maira – The Lighthouse has helped me a lot. I came to Canada from Guatemala with my whole family, knowing no English at all, and it was very hard back then. One day, I was given deportation notice of 48 hours back to Guatemala, but Samia helped through it. I have now been in Canada for 25 years, and am a Canadian citizen. Another time, my apartment was on fire back in 2000, and The Lighthouse and Samia helped me a lot. I have also finished the manicure class, am currently part of the make-up class, and hope to take the haircut class in the future. I also come to the food bank once in a while. I’ve received very good help from The Lighthouse.
Anita – The Lighthouse had assisted me in filing my income tax returns. Rita helped me out for a few years until I could find someone else to help.

  1. What impact do you think The Lighthouse has had on the children and families who attended the Summer Camps?

Tracy – I feel like this gives children and their parents a chance to have fun together and bond. I understand that parents might be too busy for their children, which can result in the kids filling in that emptiness with friends. With The Lighthouse events, I feel like the parents don’t have to keep up a barrier of being an adult, but get to enjoy and laugh with their children. They can show kids more about themselves and build a connection.

Anita – I think the Children Summer Camp held in Scarborough area (Calvary Logos Baptist Church) is a great help to families who cannot afford to pay too high a fee for children camp elsewhere.  I was involved from last year and could see the positive changes in a number of children’s character and behavior, especially for those who accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord.  This change was seen during the camp and one year after that. And for this year, most volunteers saw such changes during the camp as well. It is quite amazing.  I am sure, through the children, the parents are also more open to bringing their children for other church programs such as Sunday school, etc.

  1. What is your favourite aspect about volunteering or participating at this year’s Summer Camp?

Tracy – I really enjoyed watching the families work together for the art therapy. I always think that family is important, so to see kids and their parents laughing brings me joy. I never got that chance with my parents since they were always busy working; so I feel that things like these will stick with the children even when they get older.

Maira – I’ve never had experience working with children aged 4-6 before, and it was a beautiful experience. I also got to experience working with the Art Therapists, and learned a lot from them. My daughter also learned a lot – she expanded her skills in the arts, and is not afraid of making new friends anymore.

Anita – My favorite aspect about volunteering at this year’s Summer Camp is to counsel and pray with the children to accept the Lord Jesus into their hearts. This is done with much explanation on who Jesus is, what Jesus did for them, and why. It’s so precious to see them confessing their sins to Jesus with sincerity.   It’s my joy to see the children feeling so happy when they knew that Jesus’ blood could cleanse their sins and made their hearts clean again. God is good!


  1. What is something that stood out to you during camp/what was your favorite aspect of camp?

Tracy – This year, I’ve learned to understand the kids a little bit more. I know that there were a few rowdy kids, but I understood that they act like they do because they want to be noticed or given attention to. When I helped one of the kids with their craft because they got frustrated, they turned very timid instead of their usual outgoing self. I felt like some of the more outgoing kids were lonelier and wanted to be accepted by their peers.

Maida – Todo. I had a very good time. What I loved about it is that it wasn’t just Samia’s camp, or The Lighthouse’s camp – it was everyone’s project. Everyone did an excellent job with so many responsibilities. The food was also very good.


  1. What is one thing you would tell others about The Lighthouse / its summer camps?

Tracy – [regarding summer camps] It’s a wonderful experience, whether you’re a parent, kid, or volunteer. You learn to connect to others and help make a difference in someone’s life or see something different in your own life. It may not be the most extravagant thing in the world, but it still touches you in a way.

Anita – [regarding summer camps] I would say that the spiritual support given to families is more effective and long lasting, because follow-up activities are conducted to maintain the relationship with “clients.” Also, usually the focus is just not on the adults or the children, but the whole family. I must say, what I know and experience is largely confined within my involvement in the Chinese community.

Maida – [regarding The Lighthouse] Es un centro que ayuda bastante a las personas, especialmente a los recién llegados. Tambien nos da una buena orientacion a donde encontrar ayuda. Tambien es un lugar muy confidencial. (It is a centre that offers great help, especially to new immigrants. It also points us in a good direction to where we can find help. It’s also a very safe and confidential place.)




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Ride for Refuge 2014

Tabitha : September 12, 2014 4:00 pm : Events, Lives Changed, News

Ride for Refuge is a family-friendly cycling fundraiser that partners with various charities to raise needed operating funding for their work with the displaced, vulnerable and exploited. Ride for The Lighthouse by registering a team or registering as an individual rider. Check for a location near you and register today at to ride for The Lighthouse!

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Meet Yao Dan!

Tabitha : June 27, 2014 3:49 pm : Lives Changed, News

2014-06-27-15-31-44_photoHi everyone! My name is Yao Dan, and I am one of the summer students here at The Lighthouse this year. In the fall, I will be entering my third year as a Life Science student at U of T studying Neuroscience and Physiology.

My first encounter with The Lighthouse was volunteering at the Vietnamese Christmas Celebration with my church’s youth group in 2013. I learned about wonderful works that God has been doing through The Lighthouse, and since then have always wanted to be involved in this ministry.

Growing up, I’ve always seen the needs, the emptiness, and the struggles of the people around me, but at The Lighthouse, I get to see so many lives being transformed by the works of God. The Lord sees the needs of His people and He provides for them. He works through the hands of the loving staff here, both upfront and behind the scenes through counselling, workshops, the food bank, summer camps, and all the various services provided. It is such a blessing to be granted the opportunity to work with such a welcoming, loving, and diverse community here at The Lighthouse.

I am mainly involved with the Chinese Children’s Summer Camp held at Calvary Logos Baptist Church in Scarborough on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from July 8th to 30th. The theme of this year’s camp is “Treasure God’s Love”, and registration is already full with 66 kids! There will be singspiration and worship every day, Bible stories, arts and crafts, lunch, snacks, indoor and outdoor activities, as well as a field trip to the Ontario Science Centre with families and friends! There is still a lot of finishing-up to do, but we are so excited for camp to start!

I was also asked to lead exercises and teach English to a lovely group of Hispanic Seniors on Friday mornings. It is nerve-wracking as a 20 year old girl who has rusty Spanish and a quiet voice to teach a whole group of people! Even though I knew how friendly and loving they are as they always greet me with hugs and kisses, I was super nervous on the weeks, and especially the HOURS right beforehand. Thankfully, my first day teaching was a lot of fun, and at the end of the day they said “Bye teacher! Thank you!” and gave me more hugs and kisses as they were leaving!

I love everything about The Lighthouse. It’s honestly been such an amazing experience here. Although it’s only been four weeks, I’ve already learned so much, and I truly believe that God is equipping me to serve my own home and community by serving here.

Find out how you can support Yao’s work this summer, contact Rob at

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The Volunteering Spirit

Tabitha : March 28, 2014 4:00 pm : Lives Changed, News, Vietnamese Program

“On Monday March 10th and Wednesday March 12th, I had the privilege of volunteering for the ‘Healthy Cooking for kids’ program, and it was a great experience. I was able to try new kinds of food, work with kids joyfully, and give back to society. Chef Steve taught me many new tips and tricks about cooking and allowed me to try new things in the kitchen. While working with the children, I connected with many of the kids and they made a big impact on my life. Although at times they could be careless and cause trouble, they were also one of the kindest and most loving groups of kids I have ever met. The Lighthouse is a warm and welcoming place to be, and although I have only volunteered for two days, I would be glad to volunteer again!”

Sandy Leung

Tracy, thank you so much for the cookbook. I will definitely use it in the future. On Sunday I even made the Mac and cheese pasta for my family and they loved it. Give my regards to Steve for teaching us such useful and simple recipes. During my experience with the Lighthouse, I have learned many things about food, patience, and people. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience and would definitely want to do this again. The advisor, Tracy and Steve were extremely friendly and kind. They taught us many things involving food and how to have patience with the children. My time volunteering for the Lighthouse has been memorable. I’m sure I’ll remember all the little kids and Tracy and Steve for many years to come.


I had a lot of fun during the program. The children were very excited and joyful, which made me enjoy my time even more.  Although sometimes they were quite a handful, I found the cooking very fun too! I think that this program was a very good idea and if you decide to do it again, please contact me! Overall, it was very fun and I enjoyed being there with the kids.

Lina Ly

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More than a Community Centre

Tabitha : March 7, 2014 4:00 pm : Lives Changed, News

Cuando vine a Lighthouse, estaba partcipando en el programa del campamento de verano para familias. Este programa me ayudo muchisimo a mi y mis hijos con la terapia de juego. Desde entonces, he estado viniendo todos los años y e participado en diferentes actividades como voluntaria. Algo que e estado agradecida de lighthouse. Es la ayuda que me ofrecio por medio de Samia Saad (que por cierto es un exelente ser humano). Samia me ayudo con mis tramites de emmigracion. Gracias a su empeño y constancia, al final de la carrera pude obtener mi residencia en Canada. Lighthouse para mi a sido mas que un centro comunitario, a sido un lugar donde he conseguido apoyo moral, espirutual y material, en todos los aspectos en mi vida.

Escrita por E.J.

When I came to Lighthouse, I took part in the summer camp program for families. This program helped me and my kids with play therapy games. Since then, I’ve been coming here every year and I have participated in various activities as a volunteer. Something that I’ve been grateful of The Lighthouse is the help that was offered to me by Samia Saad, (she is certainly an excellent human being). Samia helped me with my immigration process. Thanks to her commitment and consistency, at the end of the race I could obtain my residence in Canada. Lighthouse for me has been more than a community centre, it has been a place where I have obtained a moral, spiritual and material support, in all aspects in my life.

Written by E. J.

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