Q & A about The Beacon

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Christmas Cheer


Everyone at The Beacon is happy to wish you a Merry Christmas this year.
The Beacon is ending the calendar year of 2014 in good spirits.   Toni DenHollander, our food coordinator, organized and created 35 gift bags for the regular teens that visit the Beacon and inside was treats, a Christmas mug, hot chocolate, a personalized card from Beacon volunteers and other nice items. Though many high school kids feigned 'coolness' they lined up to receive them and there was a festive mood. That was Wednesday. We had 37 kids show up, but two were not regulars and instead were first-timers.  They got a card and best wishes.  Rene offered devotionals to them as well, and Alisa helped pitch the idea of taking one for private study.  Thanks to Toni and Nathan for their help in putting all the gift baskets together.  It was a good time. After the ENSS students had left and the BPS kids were there, Father Tony Berol of Holy Angels Catholic Church joined us with several of his parish, holding a very beautiful birthday cake, a second one given to him and one he wanted to share with us.  I don't think the teens appreciated the richness and delicacy of the cake as much as the adults did - but of course we had very little - leaving the fine and tasty morsels to the teens.

The cake was a real work of art, with parchment colour and faded edges, and a nice rich marble cake inside.
 Father Tony then proceeded to sing and play guitar for us and this was just another bonus for the afternoon crowd.

David checks out an impossible shot as
 Dixon and Seth continually hook each other
As the year is ending we welcome new volunteers Bets, a friend of Karen, and Doug from the Fellowship Church who have joined us. Both come regularly and fit in right away in helping serve food, play pool and just being available to talk and listen.
Quinte Youth For Christ had their regular Christmas party for everyone from all satellites and a good time was had there by Rene and Shirley, Jim and Audry Snyder and Jeff and Carla VanReewijk, as well as thirty or so staff and volunteers from other QYFC locations.  
We got word that the Fellowship CRC church's Faith Promise initiative has come in with a generous amount of support for me in my role as Director of the Brighton area Youth For Christ & The Beacon.   Many thanks for that support!

Guitar Master Jim Chapman plays one snowy evening


January will bring First Aid training for the volunteers. So if you are planning a major heart attack or a broken something or other, do so at The Beacon with a volunteer present.  They will certainly know what to do.  January 24th will be our first annual Music Concert in aid of The Beacon, featuring the talented Kroesbergen Family, the band Wisdom and our own volunteer Don Harnden on the pipe organ. This will be a 'free' concert but the offering will be to help The Beacon and pay rent.  

Rene will be going to London for a YFC conference and training.  He is continuing to do book work and study in order to be credentialed as an official public representative of YFC.  

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

The Beacon Grows Numerically

Our Numbers are definitely up at the Beacon!   We have been getting up to 30 students every lunch time and 10 or more on the Tuesday and Thursday evenings we are open.  
Recently we celebrated some important milestones, with longtime volunteers Carla and Elisabeth both having significant birthdays just a week apart.

 In September 'D' and 'S' came with my wife and me to a Christian Youth Rally at the Air Canada Centre. Rapper Lecrae was the biggest hit of the evening.  We had trouble getting seats and ended up at high altitude in the far corner. 

Tragedy followed a few weeks later when Larry Walker, a friend and worker with both boys, was killed in a car accident near Trenton.  Larry was a regular at the Beacon, coming with the boys, and helped with some of our renovations this summer.  We will miss Larry! 

More girls are coming to the Beacon these days. They add a measure of style to the place and the boys don't mind this a bit! 
 Lance has been coming back to the Beacon since starting his extra year at ENSS.  We will miss him when he leaves high school for good next semester.  
 'J' has been tuning and cleaning our acoustic guitar and playing both the guitars at lunch.  
Rick, in the background, is watching an intense chess game and maybe learning a few pointers from 'D'  

Jeff V. did an excellent job as sound man for our free concert in the park at Applefest this year. (That's Jeff's left ear)  Performances by the New Life Girl's Home, The Kroesbergen Family, Quinte Men's Chorus, and Dan Koets' band Wisdom entertained the crowd.  We shared the time with the New Life Girl's Home as a way of saying thank you to the community for ongoing support.       

Brighton Youth For Christ / Youth Unlimited has become part of Quinte Youth For Christ. We appreciate your ongoing prayers, encouragement and, if you are so led, your financial support.   

Thursday, 28 August 2014

The New Look

The Beacon youth centre has a new look.  

Gone are the old cupboards, replaced by the new kitchen cupboards donated and installed by local craftsman and OPP officer, Harold Westerman.  New wiring and outlets were provided free by VanVark Electric. An anonymous Brighton professional decorator donated her time, materials and many hours of painting to make the old place look like new. She also donated a couch and games table which is located in a new lounge area in the back. During the summer Beacon volunteers mudded, taped, sanded and painted to help create the new look.

The Beacon is open for the new school year and will open the doors on Tuesday September 9th for lunch and in the evening from 7-9 PM.  Hours of operation will continue as we finished in the past year;  Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:00 to 1:00 on school days, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7 to 9 PM.    
Phone the Beacon at 613-475-6046 during open hours, or phone me (Rene) at 613-885-1100 

Later this year if there is interest we may offer cooking classes for teens, blacksmithing, crafts, and lessons in makeup, hair and manicure for girls.   

Most of the paint was donated by The Paint Store in Trenton, and the new exterior signs (coming next week) were made at Willow Publishing who gave a deep discount.  New paint and covers on our tables and chairs will promote more colourful (hopefully) moves on the chess board.    
Karen and Greg Boundy donated the excellent nine foot slate-top pool table which will serve as our 'big boy' pool table for those youth with a talent for angles on incidence and angles of reflection.
Rene's new office has plaid paint to cheer any situation.

Jim Snyder suggested the 'red wall' and everyone likes it.  Jim put in many hours painting at the Beacon this summer.  Jim was a professional painter before having to retire seven years ago for medical reasons.

Many thanks to all who provided free labour, talent, materials or cash to further the changes at The Beacon.

In Case You Missed It   Brighton Youth For Christ / Youth Unlimited has become part of Quinte Youth For Christ. Supporters can send donations care of Quinte Youth For Christ, P.O. Box 233, Belleville, ON K8N-5A2.  Add a note to the cheque saying that it is meant for Brighton Ministry. The bookkeeper will issue income tax receipts at year’s end.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Summer Time Changes

Hello Beacon supporters, friends and family,

We are closed for the summer holidays but have a lot of neat things in store for September. 

Gerald and Hayden VanVark fish new
wires through the old wall
Renovations   During July and August we are redecorating The Beacon! Yes, as exciting and kid-friendly as the old colors were, the volunteers unanimously decided a new paint job was in order.  Plus we will get a new kitchen counter area with new cupboards above and below.  This will go on the side wall where the storage cupboards used to be.  The new millwork is all donated by Harold Westerman, local OPP officer and craftsman. Gerald VanVark of VanVark Electric was in with his son Hayden today, installing wiring, outlets and breakers for our appliances, free of charge. No more circuit breaker blues!  All the walls will be painted and the paint was donated by The Paint Store of Trenton.  Because it was the only thing the volunteers couldn't agree on, we asked Sonja Trafford, a professional decorator, to give us free advice on colours and design for our Beacon.  

We hope you (and we!) will like the new look.  Many thanks to all who are helping.    

It will look good in a few weeks... promise!
New Family Member  An almost-new nine foot slate-top pool table has been donated by Karen and Greg Boundy of Brighton. It was given in memory of Karen’s late father, Keith Arthurs of Cedar St.  This excellent table will be a challenge for all.   Our older 'big boy' table is looking for a new home. 

In Case You Missed It   Brighton Youth For Christ / Youth Unlimited became part of Quinte Youth For Christ as of July 1st.  Supporters can send donations care of Quinte Youth For Christ, P.O. Box 233, Belleville, ON K8N-5A2.  As always, add a note to the cheque saying that it is meant for Brighton Ministry.  The bookkeeper will maintain our balance sheet and issue income tax receipts at year’s end.

In September  God willing, our efforts to serve the youth of Brighton will continue.  The Beacon will be open four days a week from 11:00 to 1:00 for lunch. The Tuesday night and Thursday night drop in should continue as well. Many youth have benefitted this year from positive interactions with our volunteers.  I will continue to volunteer at the local schools as well. 

                  Still Needed!   Beacon volunteers! Are you a good listener? Do you have a heart for teens? 
Food providers!  Can you prepare ham & cheese sandwiches from two loaves of bread once a month? Can you make a stew or pasta dish?  Lunch Coordinator  We need someone to keep a schedule and remind people when their turn is coming to bring a lunch for The Beacon.  


Rene Schmidt,
Director, Brighton Youth For Christ / Youth Unlimited

Saturday, 7 June 2014

A Roaring Success

Beacon's 1st annual Bike For Youth motorcycle rally came off without a hitch.  The day was sunny and warm and the bikers came out, tentatively at first, and then in better numbers.  We were competing with many other events in Brighton and the area, including a Kiwanis motorcycle rally through Prince Edward County and the memorial service for long-time pianist and piano teacher, loved by everybody, Lena Baker.  

Great amounts of thanks are needed for those who helped with the day.  Rick Hamilton organized much of the ride and his friends with the Blue Knights helped lead the various groups of riders through an excellent route.  Chuck and Joan Acker, with friends from Smithfield Congregational church, got the Bar B Q from Battlefield Rent All, bought the food and did the cooking. It was a long day for the Ackers, and they still had the beast to clean and return after the weekend was over.

Emily Rowley, Municipal Councillor for Brighton, helped with the setup and ticket sales in the am.  Eric Davis, who I still haven't met in person yet, was the T-shirt guru who came up with an excellent price for the shirts we sold.
My FM radio was on hand to cover the event and gave us free advertising all week.  John Campbell of the Brighton Independent got some great shots of the bikes leaving, and we were featured in the front page of the Independent the next week.
Sean and Dixon and Karlie were on hand all day, but Sean was the only one who actually got onto the ride, as passenger to Rick.  Sean and Larry spent much of the morning sweeping a winter's worth of sand and grit from the parking lot.
Chasing Elephants put on a great musical performance that impressed everybody. Long time rock & roll or C & W aficionados stopped what they were doing to listen to these musical prodigies do their harmonic thing. Great talent there & I will be asking them to perform for our fall musical fundraiser.
The prize draw went very well also.  An 'experienced' biker, Daniel, when he was ready to leave, gave his ticket to the youngest rider, Candace Harnden, sitting next to him. Candace was passenger with her grandfather Don.  Just as Daniel was roaring off, Candace won the Oxford Bone Dry bike jacket which had been offered with other items by Trenton Motosports. Way to go Candace. Way to go Daniel.  Daniel, earlier in the day,stared long and hard at our youth centre, read all the notices, calendar of events and messages, nodding and smiling.  I think he had a Beacon in his past, or perhaps had needed one.
Most of our regular volunteers, Carla, Frances, Susan, Don, and Elisabeth were on hand to help with all the work.  Ashoor and Athar also showed up as well and were helpful in clean up and post rally billiard challenges...
A great day was had by all.
My only problem was that I remembered to start taking photos only when most of the people had left, hence the underpopulated shot above.    

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Things are cooking...

New Volunteers & New Hours
The Beacon Youth Centre is proud to welcome two new volunteers, husband and wife Chuck and Joan.  We can now open an extra day and have chosen Wednesday as a good choice for the kids to come at lunch.   The result is we are open Tuesday to Friday 11:00 to 1:00 and Tuesdays & Thursdays from 7 - 9 PM.  Joan is a retired teacher and Chuck retired from the RCMP.
Do we see a pattern here?  God is giving us lots of retired cops and teachers... Makes me wonder what is coming around the corner...

Joan is one of our newest volunteers
Cooking classes!  Our night-time crowd at the Beacon is getting a special bonus as Pat Stuckless of the HKPRD Health Unit is teaching cooking classes several evenings this month. Pat brings lots of expertise on kitchen sanitation and clean food preparation, menu planning, healthy food choices and basic culinary skills. She's great with a knife too.  She has all the utensils, machines, openers, cutting boards, bowls, dishes, lids, spices and basic ingredients to make a healthy and tasty meal.

Pat shows how to prepare the pizza dough
The first evening featured pizza, and Pat made sure the kids mixed and rolled out their own dough, and even put cheese under the edge of the crust. Yum!  The kids cut piles of healthy stuff and mixed the sauce and spices, cut the cheese (so, who cut the cheese?) and spread everything out. Several kinds of meat, anchovies, and even black olives added variety.    Someone even got a few pieces of pineapple put onto their section of the pizza.

The second night session was on snack foods such as tortilla chips and dips, nacho ingredients and fruit salad. Two of the boys made a fancy bowl from a whole watermelon and most of it stayed together... Lentils and beans made up the protein portions, but some individuals insisted they wanted meat.
After the tortillas and salads we had flavoured popcorn.
Lots of good stuff.

Count on Blacksmith Rick to bring us some portable hands-on steel smithy work in weeks to come, as a follow up to the practical cooking classes we are seeing happen here.  Rick can put a forge and some useful tools on a trailer and bring them to our parking lot for some of our evening teens to hammer on. 
I don't know what we'll be making, but I know it will be interesting.
Joan, Rick and Frances... cooking   

Bike for The Beacon
Plans are underway for the first annual Bike For the Beacon motorcycle rally.  Yours truly still needs to get permission from the municipal council to have the parking lot filled with noisy bikes, the air filled with smoke and Bar B Q aroma, and the airwaves filled with the dulcet strains of amped-up rock music from some local able musicians.  Hey! We will even sell T shirts. Yeah!
My son Dan has designed several versions of the design below, which will be printed in white on black T-shirts.

Pre-order a shirt from me
The Bike For Beacon  Ride For Youth will take place on Saturday May 31st (God willing & if we get permission)  at 9:00 (registration) at the Beacon parking lot. Return for Bar B Q will be around 3:00 PM 
$20 for riders $10 for those riding pillion.
The ride will be all over the beautiful twisty and hilly roads of the Northumberland Hills and will return at 3:00 PM.

Rain Date will be June 7th.  

Mark your calendars and shine up the bikes!

Monday, 7 April 2014

In everything give thanks...

We had quite a crowd at The Beacon  last Thursday as the youth group from Fellowship C.R. Church came to drop in and visit.  Many had never been in there before and were surprised. Our regulars were surprised too.

We didn't have quite as many as the crowd shown here, but, well,  it seemed like it.
I substitute this for the photos I did not take with my own camera, which was in my pocket, ready and charged for the occasion.  Old age...

GOOD NEWS!  The Council for the Municipality of Brighton has given us the grant money we asked for many months ago:  $2 500. That is very good and will help pay our rent for almost three months, or it will allow 79 days of The Beacon to be open for youth to come and hang out in a friendly spot.

AND MORE... local churches had a series of ecumenical services for the Lenten season.  Each service was followed by a lunch and the cash donations from each were divided and sent to us at The Beacon and the New Life Girls' Home in Consecon.  The New Life Girls Home has been an important spiritual anchor in the area, helping girls who have had troubled pasts make a new start.

The Beacon's Ride For Youth will take place May 31st, 2014 and all bikers are welcome.  Registration will be from 09:00 to 10:00 with kickstands up starting at 10:15.  Count on Ride Marshall Rick to show everyone a good route through the country.  All proceeds will go to support The Beacon Youth Centre.
Riders will pay $20.00 and passengers $10.00. Rain Date will be June 7th.

NEW POOL TABLE  We were given an 8 foot pool table by Mike Wright of Trenton, who answered an ad Rick posted. Mike had this large and well-maintained table in his upstairs room and decided to donate it to us.  Many thanks. It's become our most popular table.
The new/old table is in foreground

The Men's Pool Night has been earning some extra cash most Friday nights. Many thanks for those who come out and an invitation to any and all adults who want to attend, 7-9 PM Friday nights.  Come as you are, pay and play. Suggested minimum $5 per player, but more generous amounts are always welcome.

CHESS is fast becoming a game of choice among our teens.  Some of them already show a surprising ability.

WE GIVE THANKS God has been good to us, moving in the hearts of too many people to list and remember here.  We write thank you letters, but some gifts are anonymous and they prefer it to be that way.  God bless you!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Surviving the Snow & Ice

The Snowy Drop In 

This has been the coldest winter in many decades and The Beacon is getting snowed in from two sides.  Snowplows have pushed the banks up against the incline at the edge of the parking lot, and have half buried the stairs coming from the upper parking lot. The drifts and piled snow is about 7 feet high (2.134 metres for the metric types).
Snow removal beside The Beacon's steps
Here 'A' and 'A', a pair of brothers, help me get some snow removed for people to walk past. At least if people trip here they won't fall very far and they'll land on something soft.
We have heard good news from the municipality; namely that our request for $2500 has been put back on the table, since they realized it was coming from a separate budget and would not cause a tax increase.
 I was visiting at Brighton Public School last week, in the middle of the snow day they had instead of a scheduled literacy day.  I had been asked to do a book presentation, and went ahead with it, despite the fact there was only about 30 students there.  It was a good practice run for an event I attended later on that week.
Despite the snow, The Beacon carries on...
ENSS students were sad to hear of the death of one of their own, Renee Laura Ann Miller.  My Writing Club students dressed in yellow and black (Renee's favorite colours) and some of them will attend the memorial service.
    What causes someone to commit the ultimate unfair act on themselves? Our society has turned its back on so many values. Kids are confused. Morals replace faith, but morals change to suit a situation.  Common sense replaces deeper values of giving.  Altruism is always a popular personality trait in other people but it is not taught.  The value of human life is being debated and legislated and quantified until it loses its value.  And that's no different than 100 years ago. Or 1000.
But I digress...
Add caption
We had quite a few students come at lunch on Tuesday, bringing the sun with them and cheering us all.
This week it snowed some more and the banks are piled even higher.  Next to Jim, here, they come up to his shoulders.

Thursday (when this photo was taken) we had a visit from John Campbell of the Brighton Independent. He came and took lots of photos and interviewed just about everybody.  There were a number of kids there, and a few had already left, missing their chance to get in the paper.

John asked about our religious stance and I explained we accept everybody and don't force a belief on people or judge them, still we tell where we are coming from.  When he asked for an example I said that Jesus healed people, and fed the hungry, and broke social taboos by hanging out with people he shouldn't have, long before he preached anything to them.  It's a hard act to follow but we try to do that.

Here Jim stands beside a freak situation, billiard-wise. After the break, which missed the centre but peeled off four balls, Jim took a shot which took away four more, leaving this perfect pattern of seven in the middle.
Huh!  None of us had ever seen that happen. Even Rick, ex military man and long time pool sharpie, hadn't seen that done. So we took a photo.

Rick is a blacksmith, as well as ex-RCMP, ex-OPP and ex-military.  He is an excellent listener. Rick is helping organize a bike rally for us at the end of May as a fundraiser.  Another favorite of the kids is Don.  Don is a retired shop teacher with about 30 years in the business. He knows kids and what they like to talk about, and he is learning to shoot pool.  No kidding. He grew up in a strict household where pool was discouraged, so he never learned.  Now he wants to buy a table.  Reminds me of a Flintstones episode when Fred and Barney had to babysit Pebbles, who wasn't talking yet.  Wilma and Betty came home to hear Pebbles say, "Shoot pool, Daddy".


I don't think we'll see this amount of snow again, unless it comes next week and then next winter. I'm sure we're affecting the world in a whole bunch of ways and this is the result.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Christmas & New Years

A New Year
Happy New Year!
Last Sunday I visited Evangel Pentecostal church and spoke about The Beacon and the needs of the kids and the things we are doing. It was a nice service led by a visiting evangelist. Pastor Paul Shank was very welcoming to us and our message.
     Andrew and Dianne were there as well and we had a nice visit with them after. Jonathan is getting bigger and looks like Andrew.
     The Beacon was closed during Christmas and New Years, obviously, because school was out and the kids were, hopefully, in a warm and loving home environment. But are they really?
     The drop in centre that operates in Frankford is something that we might aspire to some day.  It is a private house, located downtown near everything, and almost feee to rent. The owner is a builder who did the renovations, and while the youth centre exists they can stay there and use the place. Kids from the community who might otherwise come home to an empty house, can instead hang out at the Frankford Youth Centre four days a week.  They open after school and stay open until 5:00 PM Thursdays and Fridays and even later, until 8:00 pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
an outdoor gig in front of the Frankford Youth Centre
The Youth Centre has been open a year last October, and every week they have a music open mike event.  It all looks pretty good to me!
According to a member of the DBIA (Downtown Business Improvement Association) who I was talking to, most small towns have a youth centre for groups such as ours.  He thought it was a shame that Brighton had so little to offer our 'on the edge' type kids.

So where are all the empty houses in Brighton, just waiting to be bought by a builder and renovated, and rented out to us...?

Ah, reality sets in... people are struggling just to make ends meet.

Actually we've been asking around about alternative (less expensive) locations.
We could try the Ontario Agriculture building next door to ENSS. It's been vacant for several decades now.
the empty hallway - vacant rooms
for the last twenty years...  
Here is a photo of the hallway leading through it.

And below is one of the larger rooms, almost the size of a regular school classroom.  It could be used for large group events, shooting pool or other such things, but it doesn't have sinks or water in the room for clean up or food preparation.

Yes, it looks stark now, but so does anything that isn't painted or furnished yet.   Jeff Kawzenuk, principal at ENSS, said he thought it would be an ideal location for a drop-in centre for the ENSS kids.

I agree, but some kids may stay away because the building is shared with the OPP.
Whatever else happens, The Beacon either needs to find new
sources of money, or it needs to find cheaper digs.
the larger room - pretty bleak now, but...?

Maybe someone has a house downtown, or loft space, or something cheap(er) to rent.

In the meantime we welcome all the kids who have been making The Beacon a regular stop.  The food is waiting, the pool tables are prepped & swept and the volunteers are all ready to welcome any familiar and unfamiliar faces.

Many thanks to all those who have contributed generously so far to the work of Brighton Youth Unlimited.