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Words Of MLK Jr Inspire Ben's Lighthouse Service Project



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Some of Newtown's intermediate and middle school students have big dreams.

Nearly two dozen children participated on Monday, January 15, in a service project hosted by Ben's Lighthouse. Inspired by the words of Martin Luther King Jr, in particular "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve," children were invited to share some of their dreams for the world while serving others.

The students were divided into two groups, with one heading toward the kitchen of Trinity Episcopal Church and the other into the undercroft to begin the 90-minute program.

High school students who are members of Ben's Lighthouse Young Adult Council (YAC) oversaw each location. In the kitchen, 160 sandwiches were being made for bagged lunches that would be delivered to Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury.

The bagged meals are made during each Lunches With Love program, explained Lily Beasley. A sophomore at Newtown High School, Lily is also a member of YAC. While YAC meets weekly, Lunches With Love is done on the third Monday of each month, she said.

"The youth group and younger kids make the lunches, and then a group of Trinity members come in and make a dinner to be served at Dorothy Day House," she said.

Trinity is the host location for Ben's Lighthouse programs, but Ben's Lighthouse is not one of the church's ministries.

"Ben's Lighthouse has an office at Fairfield Hills," Lily said, "but we do our programs at Trinity."

YAC members had opened Monday's program, Lily said, by telling the children about Dorothy Day House, including the meals it serves for up to 80 people each day and the volunteers who help at the temporary shelter in Danbury. While she spoke, some YAC members finished filling bags with fresh fruit and other healthy items.

"We talked about the work being done today, and what it means to serve others," she added.

In addition to coordinating efforts in the kitchen, YAC members also worked with the second group of children participating in Monday's activity: decorating "dream clouds" and adding to a garland that had been created by participants of the 2017 Day of Service.

Francine Wheeler welcomed each group of children to that portion of the program. She spoke of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, explaining that the late Civil Rights leader was one of only three people in American history to have a national holiday proclaimed in his honor.

"I didn't realize that until recently," she told one group. "But that's how big his life was. That's how important his work was."

Seated at a long table, children had paper clouds and markers spread in front of them. After listening to Mrs Wheeler's remarks about Dr King, the children were invited to decorate their paper clouds with their hopes and dreams.

The results were remarkable.

Among the responses, children said it is their dream that no one be treated differently, that everyone has a home, that people won't waste water, and that people will think originally and be creative.

The dreams of others include the end of world hunger, a world where everyone is nice, dreams of everyone being treated equally, and the hope that bullying will end. Still another child wrote "I dream to get rid of stereotypes and the internet was a better place."

One participant said it was his dream that everyone has at least one friend.

"That's so nice," Mrs Wheeler told him. "That's one of the reasons Ben's Lighthouse was started, because someone said that."

Ben's Lighthouse was founded to honor the memory of Francine and David Wheeler's son Ben, one of the children killed on 12/14. The organization also honors "the 'light' of all the innocents lost on that day," according to its website.

Lily Hunter was quick to decorate her cloud Monday afternoon. After others had shared what they had written, she proudly read:

"It is my dream that Martin Luther King will always be remembered for the great things he did."

Young adults interested in joining the Ben's Lighthouse Young Adult Council are invited to contact Ben's Lighthouse Program Director Rebecca Cosgrove at 203-491-2848 or rcosgrove@benslighthouse.org.

Parents who would like to learn about the monthly programs, and have their intermediate or middle school aged children participate, are invited to visit BensLighthouse.org, and sign up for the monthly newsletter. All programs are offered free of charge.

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301229" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-01-Futterman-clipping-cloud-to-garland-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="662" /]

Ben's Lighthouse Young Adult Council member Alex Futterman pins dream clouds to a garland hanging in the undercroft of Trinity Church during a service project on Monday, January 15. Intermediate and middle school students were invited to write their dreams for the world on a paper cloud, having been inspired by some of the words of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. 

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301230" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-06-Hunter-Stan-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 06 -- Hunter & Stan WATERMARKED" width="800" height="463" /]

Lily Hunter, left, shows Eli Stan the Dream Heart she was working on during a Ben's Lighthouse program Monday afternoon. A group of 23 intermediate and middle school students participated in a service project that was overseen by Ben's Lighthouse Young Adult Council members to honor the legacy of Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

-Bee Photos, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301231" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-12-Un-Trang-Chapman-hanging-dream-cloud.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 12 -- Un-Trang & Chapman hanging dream cloud" width="600" height="1019" /]

Joshua Un-Trang reaches to hang his dream cloud on the garland in Trinity Church's undercroft during a Ben's Lighthouse program, while his friend Conrad Chapman watches Joshua's progress.

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301236" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-09-children-viewing-garland.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 09 -- children viewing garland" width="800" height="472" /]

Children read some of the wishes shared by others participating in the Martin Luther King Jr service project hosted by Ben's Lighthouse on Monday. 

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301247" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-11-detail-children-viewing-garland.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 11 -- detail children viewing garland" width="801" height="534" /]

Children read some of the wishes shared by others participating in the Martin Luther King Jr Day service project hosted by Ben's Lighthouse on Monday. 

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301237" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-07-group-in-kitchen-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 07 -- group in kitchen WATERMARKED" width="800" height="539" /]

The second portion of Monday's program had intermediate and middle school students putting together 160 sandwiches, which would become part of a collection of bag lunches destined for Dorothy Day Hospitality House in Danbury.

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301239" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-13-Poseno-filling-bag-lunch-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 13 -- Poseno filling bag lunch WATERMARKED" width="800" height="631" /]

Libby Poseno looks through a sea of paper bags, for one that needs a sandwich added to it. Part of the service project hosted by Ben's Lighthouse on Monday, January 15, included the preparation of 160 bag lunches for Dorothy Day Hospitality House.

-Bee Photo, Hicks


[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301233" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-02-examples-of-dream-clouds-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 02 -- examples of dream clouds WATERMARKED" width="801" height="534" /]-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301234" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-03-examples-of-dream-clouds-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="SH_Ben's Lighthouse MLK Day service project 03 -- examples of dream clouds WATERMARKED" width="800" height="689" /]

-Bee Photo, Hicks

[naviga:img class="aligncenter wp-image-301241" src="https://newtownbee.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/SH_Bens-Lighthouse-MLK-Day-service-project-04a-examples-of-dream-clouds-WATERMARKED.jpg" alt="" width="800" height="597" /]

-Bee Photo, Hicks

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