Shining Light Ministries, Inc. (SLM) is an IRS recognized 501(c)(3) whose purpose is “To minister to human need and bring hope to at-risk children, youth, adults and families in the Twin City area, by providing opportunities and resources, allowing for lives to be repaired and restored while providing a safe haven and basic necessities to those in need.”
Established in 2010, SLM began reaching out to the Elm Street Neighborhood through the Adopt-A-Block program (as developed by the LA Dream Center). This program is done in conjunction with the Elm Street Church (and potentially other churches soon), and has worked to keep the Elm Street area (and Lowe field and playground) clean, as well as reaching out to the neighbors by going door to door and helping meet the needs of the neighborhood. These have included finding furniture and clothing, providing food to families in need, and even finding people and organizations to help with utilities in a few extreme cases.
In 2012, we received the Byrne grant to help us move into the next phase of outreach, which was opening ayouth center for the youth in the center of the city. We found a space that would meet some of our objectives, and opened in July of 2012. The majority of the youth who are involved in this program come from low-income, single parent/guardian homes.
To be a part of this program, we receive release forms so that we can work with the Fitchburg Public School system, receiving bi-weekly attendance reports, progress reports and grades. Since its inception we have had over 200 kids stop in, and we have worked with 69 youth. We currently have 33 in the program. Of the 20 we have at least 2 benchmarks on over the last quarter, we have had 50% improve their grades, with 40% maintaining. We have partnered with the Elm Street Church afterschool program to get some of the youth afterschool help if they are not already involved in a program.
In 2013, we added mentoring at the Wachusett Boxing Club for some of the city’s high-risk youth on Mondays through Thursdays, an endurance program to help the youth get physically active and learn the importance of setting and achieving goals, and Dance Outreach Zumba classes (currently held at the Elm Street Church) for girls on Thursday afternoons, and for women on Friday mornings.
In 2014, we hope to accomplish the following: have some of our youth attempt a duathlon; expand the Adopt-A-Block program through affiliations with other churches; expand our partnership with the Elm Street Church afterschool program; and add a young adult work program teaching carpet-laying and painting.
The following are a few of our hopes for the future beyond 2014: to offer a Life Skills Mentoring Immersion program for young adults who dropped out of high school or didn’t go to college; to add a food pantry and clothing thrift/swap shop; and to provide an opportunity for individuals and groups to come and volunteer on short-term missions trips to Fitchburg.
As Shining Light Ministries is a missional organization, some of our outreaches, such as the Youth Center, are not intrinsically Christian. We do, however, have the opportunity to show through our lives what Christian love is like, and through our relationships share Christ as opportunities arise.