The Lighthouse Youth Center’s week to shine
● By Steven Hoffman
This is a big week for the Lighthouse Youth Center in Oxford.
On Sunday, the Lighthouse’s new 12,000 square-foot home was unveiled to the public during an open house that drew more than 700 people. This week also marks the Lighthouse’s 27th anniversary of serving the Oxford community.
At the open house, the word “blessing” was mentioned frequently as Lighthouse officials talked about how the community generously supported the effort to build a new youth center. Chester County Commissioner Terence Farrell said that Lighthouse Youth Center has been a blessing to the Oxford community. He’s right, of course.
Law enforcement data shows that the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. are peak times for juvenile crime. Nationally, the juvenile crime rate doubles in the hours immediately after school.
The Lighthouse Youth Center provides a safe, structured environment where youngsters can learn and have fun—and what is better for children to do than learn and have fun?
When children are left alone in the first few hours after school, they are at risk of committing crimes, being the victims of crime, receiving poor grades in school, and abusing alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. Studies show that being unsupervised after school can double the risk that an eighth-grader will smoke, drink, or abuse drugs.
Southern Chester County is fortunate to have the Lighthouse Youth Center—as well as the Garage Community & Youth Center in Kennett Square and West Grove, and the After-The-Bell Program in Kennett Square.
These after-school programs make a real difference in the lives of young people. It’s not just a matter of preventing crime or curbing drug abuse. It’s about making sure that children in the community understand that they are cared about.
In the last 27 years, more than 3,000 children and teenagers have benefited from the programs and services that the Lighthouse offers. Executive director Buzz Tyson, the staff, and a dedicated team of volunteers have created a nurturing environment for young people in the Oxford community. The Lighthouse is a place where the youngsters can get help with homework or play games with their friends. They can take a music lesson or play basketball. The Lighthouse even provides meals. The programs and services are constantly evolving to meet the needs of youngsters. Staff members and volunteer mentors at the Lighthouse have helped youngsters take a test for a driver’s license, apply for college, or find a job.
We would like to extend our congratulations to the Lighthouse for the fine debut of the new home, and for the 27 years of service to the Oxford community. We’d also like to congratulate Tyson for his 20th anniversary as the executive director. The community is better, brighter place because of the Lighthouse.