Students Help Light Up Bridgeport ‘Lighthouse’

Student Tom Barcia ’16 works with students in the Lighthouse Program at the Discovery Cultural Magnet School in Bridgeport.

News Story: October 17, 2013

Sacred Heart University has once again received funding for the city of Bridgeport’s before- and after-school program for elementary school children. The Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning received $709,906 from the City of Bridgeport to run educational programming that enriches students beyond what they might receive at home or during regular school hours.  The funding supports both summer and academic year programs.

In a partnership that dates back to 1998, the University will coordinate and manage educational and recreational programs at six Bridgeport educational centers: Bryant; Columbus; Discovery Magnet, both before and after school; Geraldine Johnson; Madison and John Winthrop, both before and after school.

The 15-year-old alliance involves 15 to 20 undergraduates who will work toward reaching 650 of the city’s at-risk elementary pupils. The University regularly sponsors volunteer efforts for students who mentor and coach youngsters. The Lighthouse program draws not only those who plan to become educators, but students from a wide variety of disciplines. Each SHU staff member undergoes a customary background check, and at least three of those on staff at any given site must be trained in CPR.

According to Matthew Kaye, director of the Office of Volunteer Programs and Service Learning at the University, the SHU mentors assist with homework preparation and lead a variety of enrichment programs that range from music and dance to golf and tennis. “Sacred Heart students volunteer, intern, complete service learning hours and work in our Lighthouse programs.  Lighthouse After-school programs provide one of many resources for Sacred Heart students to use as a means of being more civically engaged.”

He said that this year, for example, Sacred Heart has extended a program begun last year called the SHU-North End Partnership. Organized in conjunction with City Counselors Tom McCarthy and Michelle Lyons, the volunteer effort will connect students with elderly residents and assist them with the upkeep of their homes. The SHU-North End Partnership kicked off this year with a project to clean the baseball fields at Blackham Elementary School.

“Over the past decade, Sacred Heart students and faculty have shown overwhelming support for the Lighthouse Program. We feel privileged to have such a wonderful resource in our own back yard and are confident that the relationship between the University and the City of Bridgeport Lighthouse Program will continue to grow, benefitting even more Bridgeport children and families in the years to come,” said Tammy Papa, director of the Lighthouse Program.