Lighthouse - the power to make a SIGNIFICANT change.
In 2013, Lighthouse began as an outdoor program located in Chattanooga, Tennessee and formerly operated under The DIG IN! smART Garden. The DIG IN! smART Garden program provided foresight needed in the Highland Park area to aid for a centuries old problem -hunger. Highland Park has an income lower than 93.2% of U.S. neighborhoods, 76.4% of the children there are below the federal poverty line, and the area has a higher rate of childhood poverty than 98.8% of the United States neighborhoods. The DIG IN! smART Garden addressed the basic need of 1 in 5 children being hungry and parents trading food for detrimental medicine for themselves and their families.
As the site became an international ground for visitors to come and evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the program, founder and Master Gardener Henrietta Morris who is also a national-awards winning garden programmer, knew it was time to expand and directly impact those who were preparing to walk into leadership roles that could affect our day-to-day living and eating habits. Morris felt it was imperative to create a source that provided life-long changes of eating habits, and equally important was to begin training younger generations to improve the drop- out rate for historically underserved students and establish employability among this population.
In 2017, Outdoor Wellness Center was created as a youth development work site that encompassed health and wellness. The multi-cultural enrichment offerings were developed to aid the employability of youth. Morris believed when kids and adults are engaged in growing fruits and vegetables, an improved perception of these foods are seen and healthier food choices are made. The Outdoor Wellness Center activities were successful for summer training of marginalized youth and included: Raised Bed Gardening, Master Your Garden Life Certificates, Conversational Spanish (in order that African Americans and Latinos can converse in the garden together), Garden Art Photography, Fitness & Exercise, Mindfulness Circle Time, Chess, Cooking Demonstrations, Nutritional Instruction, Community Give Back Work Day, and Social Entrepreneurship Training.
With providing life-skills to gardening on a daily basis, The DIG IN! smART Garden & Outdoor Wellness Center provided a food demonstration outdoor kitchen pavilion, and on-site training about gardening and related topics. These enrichment opportunities enhanced job readiness and life skills for our participants. However, Morris sought a way to interconnect healthy living and support those who decide to care for others daily. Caregivers tend to be: loyal, resourceful, supportive, always willing to help and invests the necessary time into maintaining the stability of their loved one because relationships matter to them. These exceptional people understand there is nothing in this world more important than the privilege of honoring and caring for their loved one that at times can be the difference between life and death for them. They are natural keepers of the ‘light’ because of their attention to detail, thoughtfulness, and conscious consideration of the circumstances of others' lives.
Lighthouse Network Services was formed in 2021, to not only address the needs of healthy living and developing skills, but also to help other caregivers who didn’t have the necessary resources to carry through on their caregiving journey. While caregiving, our founder was disturbed that very few resources were accessible and available for her specific caregiver experience. In particular, she discovered that student caregivers suffer severely because of a lack of support and resources. She knew that if she felt that way, then there had to be millions of other people who had the same experience coordinating complex and exceptional care for their loved one. The goal is for caregivers to build confidence and become a healthier version of themselves. In order to thrive today, it’s essential to prioritize social, emotional, mental, as well as physical health in a digital world. It’s an ongoing journey that’s challenged by all the obstacles of our digital universe.