My heart is filled with a mix of emotions as I write this. I’m so proud of our young people, and everyone in the Lighthouse community, for the amazing restorative work being done and the incredible achievements we celebrate every day. I am sad, because this week we say goodbye to Kane Bowden, who has been our inspirational leader for nine years, but I am pleased to welcome Tony Pitman as our interim CEO, and excited and hopeful for what the future has in store for Lighthouse. And I am grateful, every day, for the wonderful community of supporters who surround our young people and provide them with invaluable, sometimes surprising opportunities such as the two inspiring shows we have been invited to recently.
This is the busiest time of year in our Youth Resource Centre, with staff and volunteers bustling about getting everything organised for Christmas. We have a fantastic group of organisations participating in our Wishing Tree Gift Drive, and our Holiday Appeal is underway this week. Our young people have created some bright and beautiful greeting cards, blank on the inside so you can use them year-round, available now in time for the holidays – order yours here.
From all of us at Lighthouse, especially our young people, I would like to wish you a happy and peaceful holiday season, full of joy.
Susan Barton AM
Lighthouse Foundation Founder & Director
We recently asked the Lighthouse community to share what makes their house a home and received many beautiful responses. from loved ones to a quiet space for reflection. We felt that this poem by a young person currently living in one of our homes perfectly captures the intangible sense of belonging and home that is so important to each of us.
The security of a locked front door,
The warmth inside that’s never gone,
The people around who are your family,
And the constant nagging on where you should be.
It’s all the noise, the laughter and even the tears,
It’s the silence and all it brings,
It’s the silly rituals that we make,
And the smell of good food that we create.
From the dings, the scratches and all of the flaws,
To the obstacle course of shoes by the door.
The comfy corners and photos too,
And the endless list of chores to do,
All the collections you’ve built right up, the books, dvds and even junk.
These are all things that make a house a home. And fortunately that’s where I’m writing from.
We hope you will join us in bidding a fond and bittersweet farewell to our long-serving CEO, Kane Bowden. After nine years of dedicated service at Lighthouse, Kane has decided to take his young family to live and volunteer amongst some of the world’s most disadvantaged children in Cambodia.
Kane’s years at Lighthouse have been filled with great achievements and he has overseen tremendous growth within the organisation as well as in building our capacity to change the lives of even more Australian children and young people. Kane will remain connected to Lighthouse and will be a lifelong advocate for providing therapeutic programs for traumatised children.
While the board explores the leadership needs of the organisation, we have welcomed Tony Pitman as Interim CEO. Kane and Tony have been working closely over the last six weeks as Tony has assumed oversight of ongoing operations and planning, to ensure the smooth continuity of support programs and fundraising. It is business as usual here at Lighthouse, with Tony steering progress and maintaining existing partnerships. Tony is the former CEO of Ozchild, one of our close partners, and a mutually respected colleague of both Susan and Kane. With 16 years holding the reins at OzChild, Tony’s experience, business acumen and leadership capability gives us great confidence during this period of change at Lighthouse. We are already seeing the benefits of Tony’s strong relationships within government and within the sector and the future is looking bright for Lighthouse Foundation. Rest assured that the organisation is in good hands and that the appointment of the next CEO will be carefully considered.
On October 28th one of our long-serving volunteers, Brad Reid, received one of the most prestigious annual awards from the Melbourne Rotary Club: the Sir John Reid Community Service Award 2015. Brad’s generosity and dedication was commended, in particular his long term support of Lighthouse and commitment to working with homeless young people. In proud attendance with our Founder, Susan Barton AM, was our new Lighthouse Ambassador, the distinguished actress and singer Jane Badler Hains.
We are still abuzz with the excitement of last Monday evening, when Lighthouse young people, staff and a few very lucky supporters were invited to attend the dress rehearsal of Hugh Jackman’s new show, From Broadway to Oz, at Rod Laver Arena. Our young people were incredibly close to the stage and haven’t stopped talking about the real stories Hugh shared of his life, as well as his incredible musical talent.
A particular hit was a song from Hugh’s upcoming musical about PT Barnum, which really hit home with some of our young people who feel alienated and have very little self worth. It was an affirming message about being okay with just being yourself, and we are all looking forward to seeing the film when it’s released next year.
Thanks to a generous gift from the Paul Dainty organisation, our young people and carers were also invited to attend the first show of Oprah Winfrey’s Australian tour last night. This was a dream come true for many, and Oprah’s ability to transcend the difficulties of her own youth and go on to become a successful business woman and generous philanthropist provided plenty of inspiration.
Oprah encouraged all of us to rise to be our best selves, and to not let any setbacks or obstacles define our future. With many parallels between her own traumatic teenage experiences and those of our young people, this uplifting evening has provided us all with much reflection and discussion.