Christina Royster Sykes
Big Media Agency
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
LIGHT HEALTH AND WELLNESS TO CELEBRATE 20 YEARS OF LIGHTING THE WAY FOR
BALTIMORE COMMUNITY AT 20TH ANNIVERSARY GALA
(Baltimore – September 3, 2018) LIGHT Health and Wellness Comprehensive Services, Inc., a premier community-based nonprofit organization, will celebrate 20 years of providing comprehensive quality care for children, women, youth and families who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, substance use disorders, mental health issues/trauma and poverty on Saturday, October 20th, at the Horseshoe Casino in downtown Baltimore. The organization will commemorate this milestone with an Anniversary Gala themed “20 Years of LIGHTing the Way.”
The gala is the organization’s chief fundraising event and is being sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, PNC Bank, Whiting-Turner, Bon Secours as well as a host of media and in-kind sponsors. The evening will feature a special keynote address by Congressman Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), a long-standing champion of the organization’s distinguished service to the Baltimore community. Congressman Cummings will be honored along with other luminaries and community champions. Hundreds of donors, advocates, clients, governmental officials and a host of friends of LIGHT who have pledged their continued support will dance, dine and share in reflection of the powerful stories of those whose lives were touched and transformed by LIGHT and its founding Executive Director and CEO, Debbie Rock, and LIGHT’s skillful, caring and committed teams over time.
“We’ve survived, thrived and prevailed in living our vision, to ensure the support and continuity of the family unit and be the LIGHT that will help others to see," says Ms. Rock, a trained social worker and dedicated, determined advocate fighting tirelessly to address the needs and concerns of the individuals, families and communities she serves.
Responding to the City’s Early HIV Crisis:
A Holistic Approach
Among its range of supportive health and outreach services, LIGHT’s child care center has been a safe haven and a bright beacon of shining LIGHT for the communities and residents of Baltimore City; providing a healthy start in educating and supporting some of the city’s most vulnerable and at-risk children.
In 1998, Ms. Rock, Founding Executive Director and CEO, created a Head Start program that later became the Baltimore Pediatric HIV Program (BPHIVP) - a day and respite program for children living with and/or affected by HIV and AIDS. BPHIVP was so successful as the only program of its kind that it was deemed a national model by the Health and Resources Service Administration (HRSA, a US Department of Health and Human Services agency). Ms. Rock soon learned that to be successful in changing the lives of children, she needed to develop a holistic approach. Ms. Rock quickly and carefully created a constellation of family supportive services including: education and prevention, case management, advocacy, outreach, kinship care and, at the hub, a state-credentialed and accredited child care center. She and her Board of Directors rebranded the organization’s name to LIGHT Health and Wellness Comprehensive Services, Inc., reflecting this holistic approach.
“In order to treat children and enable them to thrive in their home environment, you often must offer and provide services for the entire family unit,” Ms. Rock says. “For example, a mother who is battling addiction or a mental health crisis oftentimes has difficulty in effectively caring for her child, so it is likely that you have to provide services for them in seeking treatment. Additionally, an essential goal is to break the cycles of multi-generational poverty that many of our families are facing. Through collective efforts, we have, over time, created, and continue to facilitate, better outcomes for some of Baltimore’s most vulnerable families,” she says.
LIGHTing the Way for a Responsive Future
“Debbie Rock, our Board of Directors and fundraisers have collaboratively grown LIGHT Health and Wellness from $74,000 to a near-million-dollar nonprofit that has over its remarkable 20-year history, provided services for more than 20,000 children and their families,” says Gwen Skillern, Board of Directors member for LIGHT and retired Chief Audit Executive. “It’s truly taken a village of highly engaged folks, including committed Board members, employees and advocates sharply focused through trying times, to provide comprehensive, high-quality services that are responsive to the complex, ever-changing needs of our community. Our LIGHTing the Way Anniversary Gala honors the power of LIGHT’s historic work, and celebrates the promise of its exciting future, she adds.”
Generous grants from organizations that include The Administration for Children, Youth and Families, Ryan White Care Act Programs, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation and Kaboom! in partnership with Annie E. Casey, ViiV Healthcare and others, have helped the organization to accomplish and continue this increasingly important work. Future plans include an expansion of the organization’s programs to include an evening shift for working parents that will extend the child care program hours through midnight. The organization’s future and the health and well-being of the larger Baltimore community must be more vigilant than ever in providing better outcomes for those who are impacted by HIV/AIDS, substance use disorders, mental health challenges/trauma and poverty.
“We are committed to this work and bridging the gap between the needs and the services provided to this Baltimore community for the next 20 years and beyond,” Ms. Rock says. “And we need everyone in this region to join us in our quest to serve these children and their families; not only do they need it, but they deserve it.”
“There is a LIGHT within each of us! We need YOU in helping US to be the LIGHT to shine within the communities that need us most” she concludes.