The Beacon Afterschool Program at Trinity Lutheran in Ashland, Ohio provides a safe environment for school-aged children, Kindergarten through 4th grade, to thrive. The Beacon ministry is a faith-based outreach whose mission is to assist and support children in need, and share God’s love with them. Students are referred to the program by school liaisons or parents that hear about the program. In addition to homework help, the students are given a health snack followed by a short time of devotions. Focusing time and attention on assisting with and completing homework is beneficial to both the students and their parents. Many of the students have been identified by the public school system as having learning disabilities. “The program is a safety net for children who could easily fall through the tears in the fabric of social services,” says Dr. Eric Riesen, Senior Pastor at Trinity Lutheran. While the students come from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds, many of the students attending the Beacon program are from single-parent households, households where the grandparents are the guardians or homes where one of the parents are incarcerated.
While some of the families have church homes, many do not. The Beacon program may be their only religious connection and the children and their families are encouraged to take part in worship with Trinity Lutheran.
Callie, a kindergartner, started in August of 2017 and could not recognize all the letters of the alphabet. She also resisted sitting and being read to. Six months later she was spelling and recognizing sight words. She is able to read simple books and has a new love for reading. Callie’s mom, Nicole says “Beacon is important to our family because having four children, some with special needs, makes it difficult for me to give one child homework help.” She also loves having an affordable and trustworthy option for her children after school.