If you are going to dream, dream BIG, right?
For a large, active homeschool association that is not the ministry of a particular church, finding facilities for our various activities is our biggest challenge. When Lighthouse first started out with 20 families, we were blessed to be able to meet at a local church free of charge. We had a monthly parent meeting, a weekly enrichment co-op, a homeschool band, and a few special events in addition to field trips and park days.
A couple of years later, another church welcomed us to meet in their new building which was much bigger, and the group added a number of new activities, including volleyball and basketball, but as both the church and the support group grew in numbers, the strain on the church's resources grew. Although the support group always gave the church a sizeable love offering at the end of the year ( which was often returned), the church decided that it had to limit the amount of use by an outside organization such as ours.
Fortunately, a local family opened a homeschool bookstore at that time, and welcomed us to meet in their classrooms. This worked fine for our parent meetings, workshops, and some activities like our used book sale, Christmas craft day, and science fair, but other activities became too large for the space there, and we started going from church to church, renting space as needed. Our sports program rented gym space at a local charter school and a sports business for practices and games. .
After 5 years and an economic downturn, the bookstore had to close its doors, once again leaving us to look for meeting space. By this time, our support group was well over 200 families. No churches in the area were willing to host ALL of our activities and events, no matter what we paid, but we found several willing to rent us space for a couple of things. So now, Lighthouse has 260 families and utilizes facilites at about 8 different churches, as well as parks and people's homes.
So what about the DREAM? The Lighthouse leadership has a dream of someday having OUR OWN BUILDING! I really have no idea how this will work, but we believe that God works miracles and that He can bring the right people and resources together. There is a precedent for such a thing. Check out The Homeschool Building in Michigan. There is another in operated by FEAST in San Antonio, Texas . We dream of a large gym with 2 full basketball/volleyball courts, locker rooms, bleachers, and concession area. We dream of a large multi-purpose auditorium with a stage and AV equipment of classrooms for enrichment classes and co-ops, of a bookstore/rental center / cafe , of a teacher resource room with laminator, copy machine, book binder, paper cutter, etc. , of a playground and outdoor playing fields. We envision that this building could be supported through revenue from user fees, rental fees, bookstore and rental center fees, tournament fees, corporate sponsorships, grants, etc.
I know that some people read this and think, "Why not just send your kids to school then, where they have all those things?" The main reason is that home education is HOME CENTERED, with the decisions about curriculum, course of study, teaching methodology, discipline, etc made by the PARENTS who know and love their children. It allows for tremendous flexibility and personalization just not possible in any institutionalized setting. It allows for the inclusion of religious faith and values in every lesson. The variety of activities possible through participation in a support group like Lighthouse ENRICHES that home education experience, and provides an outlet for the many unique talents and needs of our children. Unlike a school, home education allows the PARENT to make the decisions about what, where, when, how much, so that the family unit is strengthened and benefited, not undermined.
So, we start with a dream.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.