A Shining Light

Lighthouse Ministries Banner

“I was giving up on life…there’s got to be something more. I wanted God to love me, for God to want me if nobody else did.” These are the words of a man named Matthew, a resident at Lighthouse Ministries. Matthew and his mother grew up homeless for the majority of his life, spending many nights under an Amtrak train overpass. Lighthouse Ministries first met the needs of Matthew by giving him a place to live through their residential placement program—then they met his spiritual needs through displaying the love of Jesus Christ.

Lighthouse Ministries’ main objective is to give people hope and change the lives of  struggling people. They meet the needs of the people in the community by going to where the need is, whether it is on the streets, on their campus or thrift stores or in the community. It offers a wide array of services including a rescue shelter, residential ministry, children’s ministry, community preschool, community outreach, thrift stores, adult learning, a hydroponic garden and a hope center.

Steve Turbeville, President and CEO of Lighthouse Ministries said, “We are a Life & Learning Campus For Men, Women, and Children who need a place of refuge to begin a new life. We serve Central Florida with the hope of impacting lives for Jesus by       giving food, clothing, shelter, childcare, education and job placement.”

Two men, who were sensitive and obedient to what God was telling them to do, founded Lighthouse Ministries’. Their names are Carl Warnock and Jim Welch; they started this organization in the mid 1970’s. Through a sequence of events that can be read here, Warnock and Welch were two men with a vision, a plan, and faithfulness to God’s plan.  When Warnock was concerned about his ability to run a shelter, his partner Welch said, “It’s not about ability or inability. It’s about availability.” In 1977, the first Lighthouse Rescue Mission shelter was opened.

Distribution Center

Since that time, Lighthouse Ministries has expanded into numerous campuses with many different ministries all over the Polk County region. It has  seven different buildings,  which includes, five stores, a Hope Center and a Distribution  Center. Not only do these stores provide food and clothing for a very reasonable price, they also provide jobs and volunteer opportunities.

Lighthouse Ministries has provided invaluable support for the community in numerous ways. In 2011 the men’s Rescue Shelter had 4,416 overnight guests, 15,104 meals served and 70 faith decisions. Also in 2011, The One Stop Residential Care Program served 122 people, 40,509 meals, filled 11,929 beds and had 17 faith decisions. These are only two examples of how Lighthouse Ministries has benefited the community; they have served thousands more through their thrift stores and various children’s and tutoring ministries.

Jessica, a woman who was once a person being served by Lighthouse Ministries, stated, “Lighthouse is everything I needed: childcare, education, saving money, a schedule, routine. I didn’t know where to find it, and it was here at Lighthouse.” You can read more about   Jessica’s testimony by clicking here.

Jessica is now an employee of Lighthouse Ministries H.O.P.E. Center.   She is living proof of the positive impact Lighthouse Ministries has on the community.

For organizations such as Lighthouse Ministries their ability to help the community directly comes from donations and volunteers. A nonprofit organization cannot function without people in the community who are willing to give back. The fact that numerous nonprofit organizations can coexist in the one town of Lakeland, FL shows the heart of its residences. The world is full of struggling people who have many different needs, so it is up to the fellow citizens of the world too sacrifice some time and resources for the benefit of the greater good.

Lighthouse Ministries Sign

For more information about Lighthouse Ministries’ services and how to get involved click on the links below:

Get Assistance

Lighthouse Ministries Get Involved

Lighthouse Ministries Donations


Spreading the Dream

Post Game Prayer

Often when people think of community service they associate it with words such as boring, tedious, or even punishment. For Nick Tedeschi, he associates community service with words like hope, love, kindness, and selflessness.  When performing community service the person inflicting change is many times the one changed the most. This was a realization that occurred for Tedeschi soon after getting involved with the Dream Center of Lakeland.

Open Gym

Community service can be defined as a service that is performed for the benefit of the public or its institutions. Service that benefits a community can be done in various ways such as personal initiative, meaning own your own or through an established nonprofit organization. A nonprofit organization (NPO) is an organization that distributes its excess revenues back into the organization, rather than to owners or shareholders in order to better serve and fulfill their goals.

In Lakeland, Florida, there are numerous nonprofit organizations,

each which provide unique services for the community. The Dream Center of Lakeland is a Christ centered NPO. There services include tutoring, mentoring, athletics, food distribution and general cleaning/maintenance that are requested by people in the community. The program has only two paid employees, Pastor Mike Cooper and Steven Hill. Though they are in charge of the administrative aspects, the program is able to thrive due to dedicated volunteers.

“I have been a part of the basketball program at the Dream Center for over  a year now. The fact that I continue to show up week after week definitely earns the kids trust,” said Tedeschi, 21, senior, head basketball coach and mentor at the Dream Center.

Southeastern Volunteer

The Dream Center is located between Fifth Street and Kettles Avenue. This particular part of Lakeland is geared towards low-income residents, which includes hundreds of children and teens. The Dream Center of Lakeland’s primary objective is to get these children out of the street and into a fun environment that is also integrated with faith.

According to Pastor Cooper, the organization is making new strides and reaching out to more people. Cooper also especially appreciates the great deal of hours that local volunteers invest into the Dream Center.

“Without them this program would not function, I am very grateful for all of them,” said Cooper in reference to the volunteers that help advance the Dream Centers mission.

Hill, a fulltime employee at the Dream Center, has witnessed first hand the impact that the Dream Center has had on the community. Hill watched a Saturday morning food distribution turn into a full day of evangelism, activities for children, door-to-door food distribution, and basic property upkeep for people in the community. A program that only had four volunteers on a good day now is carried out by literally hundreds.

Nick Tedeschi Pregame Devotions

“When we first started [Dream Center of Lakeland] there was a lot of tension and skepticism by people in the neighborhood,” said Hill. “We had to prove our worth to the community. Amazingly, there has been a huge level of change in receptiveness. The fact that we get so many volunteers on a consistent basis, especially from Southeastern University, also really helps.”

Dream Center’s are located all throughout the country and there collective vision is to, “Encourage and train a community of resilient people whose lives have been redeemed by God’s love, who share that love with others to transform and restore broken lives to wholeness.”

The goal of both Hill and Cooper, along with the volunteers, is to meet the needs in the community, help the hurting, and take steps to solve the problems of low income neighborhoods.

“I love the vision that the Dream Center has. I want to help be a part of spreading the vision of the program all across the country,” said Tedeschi.

Being a part of an organization such as the Dream Center is a truly rewarding experience. Volunteers are able to spread hope to people that need it the most and witness the tremendous strides people are able to take with just a helping hand. If you are interested in being a part of the mission of the Dream Center email Steven Hill at shill@dreamcenterlakeland.org.

Making A Difference One Town at A Time

All across America there are people that have a desire to help others and bring change to a community. The purpose of this blog is to inform people about nonprofit organizations, as well as what people are doing right now to bring change in desperate communities. A nonprofit organization is an organization that does not distribute its surplus funds to owners or shareholders, but instead uses those funds to pursue its goals. This particular blog, “For the People by the People” will go into detail about what is being done in the town of Lakeland, FL. Various feature stories will be conducted on organizations such as the Dream Center, Light House Ministries, and Wings of Eagles. Hopefully this blog will not only inform, but also inspire people to go out and be a part of what is happening in your local community. A small number of people can make a significant impact on a town. A small number of towns can make an even bigger impact on a state, and a group of states can change the country. Every person is significant when starting a revolution. A revolution can be defined by as a drastic and far-reaching change in ways of thinking and behaving. So let’s start a revolution in America and inspire people to change the way America thinks and behaves as a whole.