The Lighthouse Community Center: A Beacon of Hope for Thousands

by | Feb 2024

FRESH OFF the heels of the American Civil War, 1869 was a tumultuous time for our nation. For Maurice Moore, a tycoon in the tobacco industry, it was time to inhabit his newly constructed mansion overlooking Lynchburg. The home had gained a reputation since breaking ground in 1866. Naysayers nicknamed his home on Church Street “Moore’s Folly” because of the steep grade and improbable location. 

Moore couldn’t have known that almost 100 years later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would dream of a “Beloved Community” where poverty, hunger, and homelessness would no longer exist. Nor could he have known that King’s dream would manifest in 2004 as the Lighthouse Community Center, with “Moore’s Folly” as its home base. What many considered a grave mistake had transformed into a beacon of light reaching thousands.

In 2023 alone, the Lighthouse Community Center provided food to over 20,000 hungry individuals and provided on-site primary health care through Lighthouse Community Health Services. It opened Light house Pharmacy, offering door-to-door delivery. Additionally, U.S. Veterans without homes received supportive housing and wraparound therapeutic services. 

Lighthouse Community Center is a haven for helping community members register and restore voting rights. The organization advocates for bicycles for mobility and transportation through Move-Up, offering services such as free rides to work, drug court, or other necessary appointments. Dedicated partners, like Focus Point Mental Health and Promise Ranch, supply mental health counseling, crisis stabilization services, and equine therapy. 

In 2020, when the world was slamming doors shut, the Lighthouse Community Center was opening them. 

It established the Lighthouse Beloved Community Land Trust through its nonprofit, the FARRR Foundation. Ninety acres of land were purchased with the radical vision to provide affordable, sustainable, and energy-efficient housing where lower-income families could finally attain their dreams of home ownership and escape generational poverty. Homeowners in the Beloved Community will have access to wraparound support services. 

For 30 years, Patricia Franklin battled addiction. After years spent partially incarcerated, Franklin desired to take back control. The Lighthouse Community Center helped transform her life. Recently, Franklin celebrated her ninth anniversary “clean, saved, and sober.” Now, she is a matriarch in her family and her church. 

“The people I hung around with, the places I went, and the things I did were all part of my addiction. I kept doing the things that kept me in my addiction for so long because I was comfortable. When you’re comfortable, it’s hard to change. Lighthouse Community Center helped me get my life back,” shared Franklin. 

Franklin now volunteers at Lighthouse Community Center and is a peer support specialist working toward certification. She also runs the Lynchburg Democracy Center as a voting rights advocate, helping citizens restore their rights and register to vote. Additionally, Franklin manages a state digital peer support line for struggling youth. 

“I don’t try to preach to them. I’ll just say what I have to say. And there are certain things I just can’t participate in, even with my own family. I’m just not willing to go back to who I was in no kind of way. I have no control over other people, but I can control what I do. If anybody needs help and they want to know the way out, I’ll support them any way I can while they’re trying to get their life back together.” 

Franklin struggled with reading before. But after returning to school, she’s become an avid reader, especially of the Bible. 

“If I don’t keep the Lord and my recovery first, I’m doomed. I know I’ll go back to what I used to do, and I don’t want to go back to that life,” said Franklin. 

When it’s all said and done, the legacy that Franklin hopes to leave behind for others is for them to understand that “their end doesn’t have to be the same as their beginning.” 

“However you start off, whatever you went through, it doesn’t have to be your finish. Whatever your family went through — you can change, and your life can get better. I want people to know that they can make it no matter what. You don’t have to do drugs for the rest of your life because you started off like that. You don’t have to not apply yourself because you didn’t finish school. We can grow, and we can do better. I hope others look at me and know they can change and be whoever they want to be. Just give yourself a chance. Give yourself a break. Life is possible.” GN 

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