Q & A about The Beacon

Saturday, 18 March 2017

100 Women Who Care

    A couple of weeks ago a lady from my church named Jodie Richards came to The Beacon and spoke to David Green about how her organization, 100 Women Who Care, starting up in Brighton, could contribute to The Beacon. David told her the good things we are doing. Neither he nor I had heard of the 100 Women Who Care group, but the internet revealed it is part of the 100 Who Care movement that is springing up all over Canada.
    True to her word, Jodie invited me to attend their inaugural meeting at Evangel Pentecostal church on that Tuesday night. The ladies present were all very organized and got down to business without any fuss. Three organizations had been narrowed down to possible recipients of the $50 each participant brought with them that night. Jodie spoke about why they should give to The Beacon and two others spoke up about two other worthy causes they supported. We answered questions within our strict five minute time limit and there was a vote. The Beacon was voted to be the recipient of all the money collected there that night.  Since it is a new organization, not 100 members were on hand, but thirty-nine women contributed a total of $1950.00 to our youth centre.  Wow!

We all are very grateful for this obvious and important show of support from these people of our community. God bless these 100 Who Care groups!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

What if Jesus attended my high school?

I was discussing the personality of Jesus with some teenagers.  Did he become who he was in an instant or did he grow into his position?   Was he an 'ordinary' teenager or was he different in some way?  It was an interesting discussion.

So extending the thought, suppose Jesus was a teenager today - a student at E.N.S.S. - what would he be like? What might he look like? What might he do for sports? What clothes would he wear?

So here is a little poem I wrote about that.

If Jesus Attended My High School

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school - a student like me?

Maybe young Jesus would be the total sports achiever
Who could anticipate passes as a football receiver
Would his game-skills be awesome or his skating the best?
Would he be faster and smarter than all of the rest? 

Would he be good-looking for the girls to admire?
Strong and handsome and he’d never perspire?
Or would he be a joker, the best kind of class clown,
Witty and smart, someone cool to be around?

When I try to fit in I wonder how Jesus would fare?
Would he buy the latest styles or blue-dye his long hair?
Would Jesus the teenager even think of these things?
Like who to ask to the semi, or perhaps the spring fling?

Would he friend me on Facebook or tweet us on Twitter?
Would he wear clothes with pinstripes or glitter?
Maybe Jesus would avoid that social media so speedy
And instead be spend time with a friend who was needy

Maybe Jesus would be a studious guy off in another zone
Reading dusty old textbooks in the library, alone
He’d surely be smart, especially in History,
And know all the answers – to him nothing’s mystery!

He would know me, right down to my middle, 
But would I know him? Recognize him, a little?
Jesus on earth wasn’t automatically respected
Born to poverty, not influence, and often rejected

WWJD says try to do what he would do, live as he did 
But we imagine him a grownup man, not a teenaged kid 
Because as a teenager in my school, I’m guessing that rarely 
The day would go by that a Jesus would be treated fairly

Maybe teased for being good or the way that he talked  
Or who really was his father, was he born out of wedlock? 
Maybe he’d be short and ignored, not allowed in the club
Because those shy quiet types are the ones people snub.

If a kid was friendless Jesus would text that kid’s phone
And he’d talk to that strange kid who is always alone
Jesus had a purpose and wouldn’t be embarrassed 
To be seen with me when I’m being harassed

So maybe not fitting in at school isn’t the worst thing ever
Not belonging with the cool groups, or being thought clever
If Jesus went to my school, I hope that I’d recognize
Him for his goodness and kindness not his beauty or size 

I look at my high school and see the big crowd
There are so many, some shy and some loud
I wonder of all things how Jesus would be
If he were at my school - a student like me? 

We don't know what Jesus looked like.
The paintings we have are pure guesswork.
My guess is that Jesus would be ordinary looking and would not look like this gentle European-looking fellow, neatly groomed and attractive.

I think Jesus would have looked more like the guy below; depicted by artists in the Middle Ages who were familiar with sorrow and suffering. The artist remembered what Isaiah had predicted about Jesus:
Isaiah says:
 He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

This makes sense, because being born to ordinary folks and being treated as he was he knew others' suffering.
He felt intense pain and rejection from friends who later on turned on him and betrayed him, yet still he forgave those people.

Either way, as a teenager, I doubt Jesus was tall or handsome or especially talented or outstanding in some way.

I think he would look pretty ordinary, like the kids we see at The Beacon.

Please continue to support The Beacon with prayers, your time, and donations of money.  God is working some great things out in the lives of our teenagers.  Help us by being a part of that.

Contact me at rene@qyfc.com

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Some Video Games to Avoid

       Hatred and suspicion are rising up in the USA and spilling over into Canada.  These fears are increased as news of mass violence from distant parts of the world comes into our living rooms. 

What has that got to do with The Beacon?  In a quiet little place like Brighton these problems shouldn't have much effect, but it does.  Parents need to watch the trends changing around us, to help our youth be ready and make reasonable choices.    

Last week I was given a book by my friend Henry Getkate and I gave it a read.  Wow!  There's some pretty disturbing stuff in there.  

I'm posting a book review here and I will put it elsewhere (booksbyreneschmidt.blogspot.ca) just because I think it's a good thing to stay informed.  

Assassination Generation by Lt Col Dave Grossman

When we read about mass shootings at Pulse Nightclub, massacres at Aurora Colorado, Columbine High School, Sandy Hook Elementary school, Virginia Tech University and a raft of other places; we have to wonder if this is a new phenomenon in history.  What causes some quiet loner to pick up an automatic weapon and start shooting random people? Is our generation of mankind the first to have so many people, in peacetime, to be slaughtered by strangers?  
Author Lt. Col. Grossman has made a study of this.
Apart from the title, which I think sensationalizes the quality of this well-researched book, Assassination Generation is an important read for parents, teachers, youth workers, lawyers and lawmakers. 
            Grossman has a fascinating background. Serving many years as a career combat soldier in the U.S. infantry and in the Airborne Division as a paratrooper and officer, and later as a Professor of Psychology at West Point and Professor of Military Science at Arkansas State University, Grossman brings unusual expertise to this nasty topic.  His psychological area of study is on how people kill each other.  That's right. 
His previous books have dealt with the difficulty of training professional soldiers to actually shoot to kill an enemy.  His research indicates that people have a built in resistance to taking the life of another human. Statistics for kill rates for soldiers in riflemen companies in various wars shows that no matter how accurate a soldier may be at shooting at a paper target they must still be trained at length to overcome this resistance before they will shoot to kill another human being.  Assassination Generation makes a good case for showing that shoot-to-kill video games are as effective in overcoming a person’s reluctance to take a life as the best military training is. Our shoot-to-kill video-game players, in other words, learn to take lives of real humans just as soldiers do. 
            Assassination Generation is a readable and well-researched statistical case for connecting the rise of mass shootings in the world with the rise in popularity and availability of highly graphic ‘first person’ killer video games.  In these restricted or adult-rated games, the player assumes the role of rogue cop, lone-wolf soldier, frustrated armed guard, or just about anyone with varied weaponry and unlimited ammunition and uses these to kill people. Sometimes the killed people are ‘bad guys’ and sometimes they are innocent bystanders. Kills are rewarded with points or advancement to a higher level in the game’s structure. These sick games show killing as graphically realistic and messy. Each shot is accompanied by details of corpses, blood spatter, chunks of flesh flying, people begging for mercy and all sorts of nasty stuff most of us will never see in a normal lifetime.

            Grossman does not argue for an absolute ban on these snuff games but makes the case that ratings for these games are not well regulated or consistent. Games identified as dangerous to young minds are still too easily purchased by youth. The harmful effects of these games on young minds is more long-lasting than the effects on adults. He shows how the billion dollar media industry lobbyists have caused confusion over the ratings issue, leaving some of the most destructive video games too easily available to children.

            Grossman shows that increased used of media leads not only to violent behaviours but to other aberrant behaviours in youth too.  Interestingly, children and teenagers now spend more time on video screens and interactive electronic media than any other activity besides sleeping. 

            Grossman makes some basic suggestions as to how parents can prevent harm form overuse and addictions to video games. 

            The only jarring note is that Grossman does not line himself up with the 85% of Americans, who want more restrictions on automatic weapons.  He does not point out the obvious connection between angry lunatics being able to own ever more sophisticated types of automatic weapons and the murderous head count of folks shot dead by them. His case is that even in countries with strict gun controls, like Norway, automatic weapons and assault rifles can still be obtained by someone like Anders Behring Breivik who killed 77 teenagers. 
            But the mass killings in the USA, while its ‘good-ole-boy’ gun lobby continues to block any meaningful restrictive legislation, far outnumber the slaughter in other countries with limited public access to guns.

           But I digress. Assassination Generation is still an important book to read and consider. 
Rene Schmidt 

Monday, 23 January 2017

Thank you Municipality of Brighton!

Fences Mended?

Municipal Council Meeting
    For likely the tenth year of our existence, the Municipality of Brighton last week voted to support The Beacon financially as a Grant-in-Aid project for the coming year. The Council meeting was a special occasion for me and ten of our volunteers who were on hand to show our gratitude for the support we have had previous years from our municipality.
    Of special note; Councillor Brian Ostrander retracted statements he had made earlier and said he was reversing his opinion on whether we should be supported financially. I appreciated his openness. (After a Friday the 13th meeting between Brian, myself and Colin Leaver E.D. of QYFC at Brighton's new Tim Hortons, both Brian and I discovered we had been misunderstanding each other's position.   The meeting was very good at clearing the air.)  
    After a vote the Council voted to give us the $6000 we had asked for. This is very beneficial for our great increase in numbers, leading to much more food being consumed, leads to higher costs overall.        

    We miss you Ryan!   Ryan Wilson (Sorry, not of the Beach Boys) has not been able to come back and volunteer during the Tuesday 7-9 time slot he had been doing since September.  Ryan is a high quality man who has excellent insights and a genuine love for the youth we serve.

Our December numbers were a bit lower than November, probably due to the weather, but as long as busses have not been cancelled, our numbers have remained high.
Just today (Monday January 23rd) we had 28 students visit. Nineteen from East Northumberland Secondary School and nine from Brighton Public School.

God is good!

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Misunderstandings and misleadings

To all who are hearing one side of the news report about The Beacon youth centre and our request for funding in Brighton, here is the text of what I read to the Brighton Municipal Council last Monday.  Please read all of it before you make judgments.

To the Municipal Council for Monday December 19th

I am Rene Schmidt, director of The Beacon Youth centre. Municipal Council has our Grant-In-Aid request and Councilor Ostrander expressed concerns about The Beacon.  There are many worthy causes to support, and our youth centre is just one, but concerns could mislead people about us.  He suggested that Brighton youth with same sex or bisexual attraction or transgender youth would not feel welcome at The Beacon because of the Community Commitment statement our volunteers agree to uphold.  Please consider the following points before you make a decision on our grant application.    

1) The Beacon provides and faithfully maintains a welcome environment for all youth.  Kids of all shapes, sizes, genders, moral values and abilities are found there.  Our three rules: Respect Yourself, Respect Others and Respect The Place are the only behavior criteria we insist on. Students who make others feel unwelcome are corrected. No bullying is allowed. Teasing, name-calling, or insults based on someone’s sexual orientation are out of place. Just like our schools we have zero tolerance for bullying. With our small size behaviors like these are easy to spot and correct. 

2) Our volunteers would never start conversations about sexuality or gender identity with our underage youths, who are mostly from 10 to 16 years old. To do so would be inappropriate. Having said that, among the 30 or so average daily visitors there are likely students who come to The Beacon who will self-identify as gay or lesbian or bisexual. Certainly there have been in the past, and they were as welcome as everyone else. There are no statements on the wall, signs, symbols or other indicators that any group or person or type of person is unwelcome. We care about spirituality not sexuality. We make every effort to listen to youth, learn their names and accept them in whatever situation they are in.   

3) We are and remain a Christian organization. We are supported generously by five local churches, and it would be hypocritical of us to deny the same Biblical principles that govern those five churches. There is nothing new or unusual about YFC Community Commitments. They were in place ten years ago when Brighton Council agreed our Youth Centre was necessary and that YFC would organize it. The commitments are for adult volunteers, and have nothing to do with the youth we welcome to the Beacon or their beliefs. Our commitments ensure parents, churches, and the community that our adult volunteers are accountable to high moral standards. 

4) There is an unfortunate caricature of fundamentalist Christians being small-minded folks who say hateful things about gay people, Jews, visible minorities, or anyone else they don’t like. This caricature is unworthy of the caring Christians in Brighton and in the rest of Canada. Such hurtful attitudes contradict the teachings of Jesus, who healed the sick and fed the hungry without asking them if they had obeyed all the rules and laws or even if they were Jewish. Jesus taught us to love our neighbors and that when we judge others we invite strict judgment against ourselves. 

5) I would not buy a car I haven’t driven. I would not purchase land I have not visited, and if I were on this council I certainly would not vote for or against a budget item I had no first-hand knowledge of, especially if that knowledge is easy to obtain. Council members may visit The Beacon youth centre tomorrow or any weekday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. or Tuesday to Friday nights from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. It is right across the street beside the China King restaurant. See for yourselves why this is an important place for Brighton youth. You may be challenged to shoot a game of pool or to play foosball, or maybe just talk with a teenager who has not enough caring adults in his or her life. This is the only youth centre in town. Besides the arena, for kids who can afford hockey, there is no other safe place like this open regularly. Over 30 visits a day, five days a week, prove its value to our community.  Before deciding on our grant-in-aid request for the benefit of these children, please see for yourself who we really are!

Thursday, 24 November 2016

What Goes Around Come Around...

     Nice Guys Finish First

     Jesse Norman has been a volunteer at The Beacon for the last two years. He is a modest man who works quietly in the background getting things done. Before he volunteered to fill the 7-9 p.m. time slot Thursdays and Fridays at The Beacon, Jesse began bringing support from the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Brighton, where he is the President.   

     But Jesse's efforts on behalf of others is not limited to our youth centre.  Jesse is well known and loved by families in the community for going extra mile and helping when he can. 

     What goes around, comes around.  When Jesse turned 75 last week, he didn't mention it to anybody, but Cindy Huycke and her family took him by surprise.  They wanted to make sure this significant birthday did not go unnoticed.  

"He has really helped our family," Huycke told me some time ago. Last week she showed her appreciation for Jesse by surprising him with baked goods, gifts and artwork made by her sons. 

Presents for Jesse at The Beacon 

Jesse with younger members of the Huycke family.  

People like Jesse are what makes The Beacon youth centre such a worthwhile place in the Brighton
community.  Please support The Beacon.  Email me at rene@qyfc.com to learn how you can help.

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Sean Amikons wins prestigious award!

Luis (of Frederick's team) Frederick, Sean, Rene and Mayor Mark

Rene and Frederick (I love those shoes!) 
Thursday, October 27th  was a wet, cold, and miserable day, but Frederick Dryden and his Liberty For Youth team ran through Brighton to visit Mayor Mark Walas and The Beacon Youth Centre. It was just one of several stops for the day, as Frederick is running from Ottawa to Hamilton over three weeks to raise awareness for ‘youth at risk and to ask the Federal Government to increase funding.
Here at The Beacon Frederick stopped for lunch, speaking to an uncharacteristically quiet twenty-five ENSS students about his life. They were spellbound. What a story! Frederick grew up in Collingwood in one of only two Black families there and suffered from racism and discrimination. Troubles within his family led to him moving to Toronto where he joined a gang and eventually lived on the streets. Later, because of the efforts of a caring teacher who tutored him, and church organizations who accepted him, he completed his education and devoted his life to helping youth. 
            While in Brighton Frederick awarded Sean Amikons, a longtime Beacon attendee and now volunteer, the Liberty For Youth Perseverance Award and a $250 bursary.  The award, funded by Liberty For Youth, is for those who steadfastly ‘stay the course’ and overcome obstacles on the way.  Sean was an easy choice for the award, because he has come a long way from a very difficult early home life to where he is now.  Sean is a graduate of ENSS and works at No Frills. Sean owes much of his maturation and success to his former foster parents and to people like our beloved Rick Hamilton, volunteer for the last few years at The Beacon, who has spent much time with Sean while teaching him blacksmithing and life skills. 
            Meanwhile, Frederick Dryden continues his daily “Running For Youth” mission, speaking to groups of youth and youth workers and distributing awards while raising funds to support awareness for his work in Hamilton’s gritty streets.
            I hope to stay in touch with Frederick and would like him to come back again next year. “His story is an inspiration to us all!” 

read more about Frederick at