ATASCADERO — Lighthouse Coffee, the brand run by Paloma Creek High School Students in partnership with Joebella Coffee Roasters, and ubiquitous at local events, is the public face of Lighthouse programs that many not normally involved with Atascadero Unified School District (AUSD) affairs may be most familiar with. But the fundraiser activity with an entrepreneurial bent is one of several successful programs for youth run by the non-profit Greyhound Foundation under the Lighthouse name.
As boosters got ready to attend a $125 per seat Sunday Brunch on Jan. 27, more than 30 representatives of the organization's steering committee, stakeholder groups and education professionals held some behind-the-scenes meetings to map out a solid course for Lighthouse over the next three to five years.
Over three sessions, culminating with a 8 a.m to 12 p.m. workshop on Jan. 18, facilitator DJ Pittenger, herself one of the founders of Lighthouse and a former principal in the AUSD, led the group through collaborative thought processes on what those goals should be, what obstacles were foreseeable and how to overcome them.
The results that went up on visioning boards for each category were carefully documented with the data now being packaged for representation to the Greyhound Foundation and the Lighthouse’s entire steering committee.
Donn Clickard, executive director of the Greyhound Foundation, said one of the things they’d hoped to accomplish over the course of the meetings was to make the concept of Lighthouse — with more than seven program areas including a local youth mentoring program, the coffee company fundraiser, high school wellness center, after-school activities, anti-drug “reality tour,” counseling, and support services for addiction — into a packaged intellectual product which other communities can implement.
As he described it to visitors that meant breaking each goal and concepts into executable steps, from establishing a non-profit entity, to determining scope and individual programs.
Mission statements arrived at in earlier meetings which were explored that Friday were summed up on the board under the format, “In the next 3-5 years Lighthouse will contribute to the awareness, prevention, education and intervention of addiction by: creating sensible organizational design, fiscal sustainability, youth community engagement, promoting healthy lifestyle choices, comprehensive mental health services, development of data-driven frameworks, providing resource support program[s].”
If determining how to tackle each sub-header seems Herculean, participants were also asked to set aside some preconceptions that stem from experience, such as acknowledging a lack of fund fluidity within the non-profit sector and sum up their frustrations and possible hurdles to overcome separately.
Of the process, AUSD Superintendent Tom Butler said he’d seen a change over time.
“They’ve really become more purposeful in their efforts and driven in their goals,” Butler said, adding, “I think they’re also looking to have more impact in the community beyond their previous focus.”
While members of the group voiced concern over how effective a non-profit could be in affecting conditions inside the school district where so much of their activities take place, Butler said the strengths of their partnership were in how much of their work aligns.
After the meeting concluded, Pittenger explained that while some of the material presented may have sounded difficult to encapsulate for later review by the committee, the facilitation model and moderating influence in managing all the viewpoints, in turn, was a kind of technology all its own.
“There are similarities to this and a classroom, making sure everyone is heard without dominating the conversation,” she said. “In a way, I’d already been facilitating for over 30 years with teaching.”