Some people don’t imagine their children will runaway, some can’t comprehend why children runaway, but some children feel the need to run away. We hope this doesn’t happen, and we don’t want it to happen, but it does. Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that there is a place your children can go to if this does happen?
Key West Center Project Lighthouse
A women by the name of Andrea Grace Quigley at the age of 20 ran away from home all the way from New Jersey to Key West. She left to escape a home filled of sadness, her mom was dying of cancer and her dad was cancer–stricken another part of her just wanted change. She wanted to find herself.
She only had a few dollars on her and went to the movies, she fell asleep and woke up when the movie finished and began to cry. Andrea says ”I didn’t want to walk back out onto the street,” “I had no money.” I couldn’t call my parents, they were so desperately ill. I wanted somewhere to go, but I didn’t know anyone.”
When that moment came she walked out of the theater and a stranger asked her about the saxophone she was carrying in her backpack. The stranger was Tim Curtis, the director of Project lighthouse. Project Lighthouse is a federally funded street outreach program for runaways, homeless and at risk street youth under 21. Its where children can go to shower, do laundry and do creative things, like Andrea who used the equipment to record a demo CD. Now Andrea sells jewelery and clothing she designs and she volunteers.
”Most everyone who comes in here is at a point in their life when they are teetering on the ledge and can go either way,” Quigley said. “You can go to this negative life, or go in the other direction.”
Lighthouse opened in October 2004 and has served about 870 runaway and homeless youth from around the country, according to program director Jai Somers. Hundreds more local at-risk kids also have been helped. The rules are no drugs and alcohol and no sleeping or fighting. Be friendly and no swearing or R-rated material and be productive.
This is very motivating to teens who are out there and need help to get on the right track. I think more of our cities need a place like this for children who runaway. Not every child can be helped, but it’s good to know there are places out there like this where you can go if you don’t have anywhere else to go. I have always loved the thought of helping teenagers who are in trouble, who really just need that little push in the right direction. Not everyone gets a second chance.
If you want to read more about Project Lighthouse go to Miamiherald.com