Q & A about The Beacon

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   

Friday, 9 September 2016

A New School Year at The Beacon

Welcome all students in Brighton to The Beacon youth centre for another school year.
E.N.S.S. and Brighton Public School students are welcome to come any lunchtime (11:00 to 1:00 pm) on a regular school day*, and in the evenings, from September till June, we are open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 7-9 pm for drop-in visitors.
*on bus cancellation days we may or may not be open! On P.A. Days or school holidays we are not open during lunch.   

Last year we finished our season with over 3700 visits from teens and tweens in the Brighton area.
That is an incredible almost 400 visits per month average.  

In the evenings we provide a safe and bully-free area to connect with friends...

And starting this fall Program Mondays will begin.  Some weeks we may do Youth Alpha.  
For more information on that see http://www.alphayouthfilmseries.com/#inviteageneration

The Beacon also offers other opportunities, such as free haircuts or cooking classes...

Plus we celebrate birthdays and make kids feel special

The Beacon is a satellite ministry of Quinte Youth Unlimited.   http://www.qyfc.com/

As the director, (Rene Schmidt) I can be reached for more information at
The Beacon 613-475-6046 or (my cell) 613-885-1100

We believe in supporting the youth of today to become the best they can be.  Check out the article I did recently for Northumberland Today


Friday, 8 April 2016

Our numbers are in...

Hello Curious people!

If you are someone who saw the "Cheap Seats" broadcast on COGECO channel 04 last week, please read on and find out more about us. 

After that, call me, Rene Schmidt at 613-885-1100 if you want more information or,
Email me at rene@qyfc.com or,
visit us at The Beacon 10 Alice St. Unit # 5, Brighton (Beside the China King restaurant)
between 11:00-1:00 school days and 7:00 - 9:00 pm Tuesdays to Fridays    

New Hours! Lots of Teen Visits!

God is good!  We recently had six more volunteers join us and now The Beacon is open more days to benefit our teens in Brighton.

We are now open Mondays* through Fridays for lunch (11:00 am - 1:00 pm) and we have increased our evening drop-in days to four nights a week:  Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays (7:00 - 9:00 pm)
*Mondays from 11:00 - 12:00 (ENSS lunchtimes) we discuss spiritual matters on topical Christian issues for any teens who want to attend.  Elementary students continue on Mondays with the usual pool games, loud music and fun.       

Thanks to the time spent number-crunching by our Loyalist College student placement, Sarah Shutt-Kampstra, we have new and surprising statistics on attendance figures.

So how many students actually visited The Beacon this year?
Sarah found that from September 2015 to March we had 1286 visits from East Northumberland Secondary School teens and 544 from Brighton Public School students. Our evenings saw 250 students visit. That is a total of 2080 times teens have been welcomed to The Beacon for our own special blend of snacks, games, music and fun!  Extending those numbers, we can project we will have a total of +/- 3000 visits by the end of June)

So how many students are regular visitors?
 Of 99 secondary school students who visited The Beacon since September, 31 are regulars (visited 10 or more times) 11 were one-timers (visited just once) and 57 visited between 2 and 9 times.  Of the 49 elementary school students listed, 15 are regulars, 3 are one-timers and 31 are some-timers (between 2 and 9 times).  In the evenings, of 32 students, 6 came more than 10 times, 11 came just once and fifteen teens came occasionally.      

So are the numbers going up or down?
The totals for each month show that in September we had a low of 231 visits and in February and March we were averaging just under 300 students. Those numbers are fairly steady. Total visits for each month also depend on weather, school holidays, bus cancellations and such.

How many volunteers have you got?  
We just welcomed seven more volunteers;  Sean, Barbara, Sharron, Jesse, Lorraine, Ryan and Andrea. All but Sean and Ryan are retirees. These people join eighteen other regular or back-up volunteers.

What else is new to The Beacon?
We just elected a new Satellite Committee and these good people help me set long-term goals and deal with the growth and changes we are undergoing. Our Chairperson is Chuck Acker,  Vice-Chair is Elinor Joyce, Treasurer is David Green, Secretary is Ernie Alkenbrack.  We also have a Youth Representative (Koby M. and Matt M. as his back-up).  Other members are Pastor Glenn Halliwell, Jim Snyder and myself, Rene Schmidt.

How can I donate to The Beacon?  
We depend completely on donations to exist. You can give regularly or make a one-time gift. Please make cheques payable to Quinte Youth Unlimited, our parent organization, who does our accounting and issues income tax receipts. Make a note on the cheque that the donations are for The Beacon youth centre and the money will go to our ministry.  Send any cheques or offerings to Quinte YFC P.O. Box 233, Belleville ON K8N-5A2

Why do you need to belong to a parent organization?
Good question!  The Beacon does not have charitable status or even a bank account. Quinte Youth Unlimited / Youth For Christ has these and also provides training, resources, fund-raising opportunities and guidance from the Executive Director Colin Leaver, as well as organized trips for our teens and many other benefits.  I couldn't do this job properly without their support.

How much money goes to The Beacon if I donate? 
Of every $100 donated, about $92.00 will go to The Beacon to pay rent or goes for my support.

Don't you work for free?
No. I have earned a decent pension, but I can't afford to do this ministry for free. I work part-time hours (roughly 3 days a week) and earn $6 000 a year to pay for gasoline, my cell-phone and my time.

How can I help?
We always need people to help in various ways. The teens are well-behaved and polite at The Beacon (or we ask them to leave) so being around them as a volunteer is fairly stress-free.

What if I don't feel comfortable around teenagers?
You're not alone!  But you can help by attending a fundraiser on June 16th.  It is a dinner theatre, called The Butler Did It, performed by QYFC's Spirit Borne teen actors.  It is coming to Trenton Christian School and Brighton YFC and Quinte West YFC are co-hosting it.  It will be a great way to have fun and support a good cause. Invite your best girl or guy out on a date and you will be helping teens, getting a delicious catered meal, and being entertained at the same time.