Sometimes it feels like all of the little events of our lives leave impressions on the physical space around us. We remember our bedrooms as kids – the walls that witnessed our first heartbreak and the loss of our first tooth. Our old, lived-in rooms feel alive – or as if they once lived – and somehow more colorful than any new place, however exciting. We have bonded to them. And even if such places didn’t host pleasant experiences for us, they still hold significance in our hearts, stained with intense human emotion.

The rooms in our Lighthouse building have surely seen more than most. Since sometime around 1870, it’s hosted innumerable life events. Fulfillment, grief, frustration, great loss, and great joy. Our central room – a pre-pandemic dining room, event space, ballroom, lobby, place of fellowship, and on Sundays, a sanctuary – has recorded events from the lives of people all around the world of all classes, colors, and sizes. And this year has undoubtedly left more of an impression than most rooms get in a decade.

In the brisk, gray months starting off 2020, a very generous family, who asked to remain anonymous, blessed us with a new van for our transit support services offered for the men who reside in our Lighthouse Lodge and Veteran’s Home, a residential and reentry training program.

New servant leaders found their way into our homes hoping for a new journey following years of incarceration: Darrell, Thomas, and Peter (Thomas and Peter are both U.S. Veterans). They have remained faithful in their walks of restoration and provided enormous support to the mission of the Lighthouse.

On January 20, the first confirmed case of COVID-19 breached the U.S. It took until March 7 before the virus reached our state, and another 20 days before it reached our city – which landed on the same day our country surpassed 100,000 cases. By this time, the local schools had canceled residential classes and our governor had issued a stay-at-home order, effectively putting everyone under lockdown.

And that’s when quiet became loud.

We agonized for our restaurant donors and friends – like Choice Hibachi Grill and Golden Corral Buffet – watching as they were forced to close. We prayed not just for our loss but for our neighbors, The Daily Bread and Salvation Army. That’s when the music of ministry met a new beat. The Lighthouse watched its services go to the streets. The Lord delivered the next week with hygiene supplies, socks, underwear, jackets, clothes, and shoes through the generosity of giving donors in our communities. And the Lord opened up the giving hearts of local chefs and church cooks who opened their commercial kitchens and prepared hundreds of pounds of food. We were rich in supplies and shared our wealth with The Daily Bread and Salvation Army. Today, we unite them in all things abundant that come through us for distribution.

Thankfully, our restaurant donors managed to reopen and continue to share their food donations which we served warm out of our central room. More restaurants have started sharing too: County Smoak, Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts, The Wandering Donut, Father’s Café & Bakery, Joe Bean’s, Mission House Coffee, White Heart Café, and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

We still provide daily curbside to-go service out of our lobby, now meal-prepped in microwaveable and freezer-safe containers. We deliver door-to-door food and fellowship to hundreds of more households of individuals and families in rural communities as far as Halifax and Nellysford.

Our lobby also hosts a grab-and-go refrigerator to ensure our guests can access fresh food during our service hours, thanks to our partners at the Blue Ridge Food Bank, Fresh Market, and Food Lion.

Lighthouse Community Health Services was birthed under the directorship of Dr. Eisenstein, a practicing Doctor of Psychiatry for over 35 years in central Virginia. His contribution to our compassion of wrap-around supportive services has given us the resources to dig deeper in the trenches to reach individuals who are on the brink of a breakdown. New patients are signing up weekly, and with the supportive partnership with Patrick Henry Family Services, we can offer counseling appointments on Monday and Tuesday, and with Dr. Eisenstein on Wednesday.

Today, the vision that was cast in 2018 for developing therapeutic communities are also beginning to fall into place. We are acquiring two large parcels of land for low-income individuals and families to build wealth through the ownership of safe, and lasting affordable housing in a “Beloved Community” featuring wrap-around supportive services. We invite you to join us on this journey as we take this faith walk a step forward. Your continued prayers, networking, and financial support will make this a reality.

And there’s one thing that this old building got a lot more of this year: remediation! The hum of the fog machine, the scrubbing of brushes over the worn wood, the flop of the mop hitting the floor – our ballroom learned to expect these sounds like clockwork. By the end of the year, we were closing two days a week for complete remediation throughout the whole building to protect the welfare of our volunteer staff and guests who trust our space as safe and clean.

While we were drafting the outline for this year-end update, a woman rang our doorbell minutes before our midday food service. Prayer was her only request, for she had lost her mother, and needed strength and direction moving forward. “My church is closed so I came here,” she prayed. “Thank you for these people who opened their doors for me.”

In closing, generous donors like you warm our hearts by allowing us to say ‘yes’ when someone needs food, clothing, shelter, bikes for mobility, homeless backpacks, laundry tokens, counseling and mental health services. We are deeply grateful for your support of the Lighthouse mission to serve all persons in crisis with basic necessities, support, encouragement, and remedial services that lead to self-sustaining and dignified lives.

In the midst of death and hurt, we have seen life and healing. Our walls have become storytellers, and you make them all the richer.

Sending much love, encouragement and shared strength your way.


The Lighthouse Community Center