An extra blessing for Project Blessing
By Steven Hoffman
Buzz Tyson calls the effort to build a new home for the Lighthouse Youth Center Project Blessing. The community has generously supported the Lighthouse and its many programs that help young people in the community during the last 26 years. But the move to a new, larger facility that will allow the Lighthouse to provide meals to more children and to expand the activities that the children enjoy each day after school. The visible signs of Project Blessing—the beautiful building rising on Commerce Street—have become evident only in recent months, but the dream of Project Blessing stretches back many years.
During the first week in December, a team of Sherwin-Williams Company employees traveled from all across the U.S. to add one more blessing to Project Blessing. They spent the week painting the interior of the new Lighthouse Youth Center using products that were donated by the company.
How the Lighthouse Youth Center became the one special project that the Sherwin-Williams Company took on this year for free is a story that started more than a year ago with a conversation between Mike Clarke and his wife, Denise.
Mike is a field technical product manager for Sherwin-Williams. Denise works as a health room assistant at Oxford Area High School. Denise is well aware of the good work that the Lighthouse does with hundreds of young people in the community each year, in part because Tyson regularly visits the Oxford schools to help Lighthouse youngsters. One day, Tish Foster, one of Denise's coworkers, was sharing how her son, Tyler, did an Eagle Scout project at the Lighthouse. He raised money and renovated, insulated, and painted the new weight room in the current building. Denise shared this information with her husband. Later, during one of Tyson's regular visits to the schools, he talked about the new building project with Denise.
Mike knew that the Sherwin-Williams Company supports non-profit organizations in various ways, including selecting one project each year to undertake for the benefit of a community. The company not only donates materials, it also pays the salaries of the company's workers who volunteer for the project. He thought the Lighthouse project would be an excellent candidate for this and made the suggestion to his company. Other field technical product managers also made suggestions. In the end, the Lighthouse project was the one selected.
“Sherwin-Williams encourages its employees to get involved in community projects,” Mike explained. “And the Lighthouse is a great cause. I have a lot of respect for what they do—they help youngsters develop and grow in the right way. This was a way to help out.”
Initially, Mike said, the plan was to do the work earlier in the year, but the project's schedule changed slightly because of unavoidable delays on the project.
The team of Sherwin-Williams employees started arriving on Dec. 1, coming from California, Oregon, Ohio, and other states. Some volunteers worked a day or two, while others worked on the job site for three or four days. Mike said that on some days he had as many as 11 volunteers working on the project at one time. They accomplished a lot of work in a short period of time and by the end of the week they were finished with the painting project. Mike was still finishing up with some tasks. The work that the Sherwin-Williams employees did will help immensely as the Lighthouse staff prepares to move from the current building to the new one.
Tyson said that the donation of paint and other materials, as well as the volunteer efforts from the employees of the Sherwin-Williams Company probably saved the Lighthouse about $30,000. He and the Lighthouse's board of directors are tremendously appreciative of the donation.
“We are humbled that they selected this project out of all the worthy projects that there are across the United States,” Tyson said. “It shows how the town of Oxford is blessed by generous givers of their time and talents.”
The new Lighthouse Youth Center is expected to open sometime in 2015.