Help Lighthouse help others who need a temporary helping hand

Editor's column
By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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Know and Go:

What: 11th annual Celebrity Waiter Luncheon

When: 11 a.m. reception and 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. lunch Friday

Where: Orchard Creek Lodge, 965 Orchard Creek Lane

Admission: Individual tickets online for $75 each at Tickets must be bought by Tuesday.

Info: Gary McDonald at

or 645-3300



Know and Go:

What: Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center

Where: 427 A St., Suite 400, Lincoln

Hours: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and closed noon to 1, Mondays to Fridays.

Contact: 645-3300 or



Samantha is hands down the happiest, most cheerful woman I know.

Every time I see her, whether it’s morning, afternoon or night, she is all smiles and very welcoming.

Seeing her for even a few minutes brightens my day.

But six years ago, Samantha (not her real name to protect her children’s privacy) was anxious and depressed. The south Placer County resident was going through a difficult divorce and had trouble even putting food on the table for her three teenagers.

The reason she is now so happy and positive is because “I’m back on my feet and have stability after four years of unexpected, extreme financial hardship and emotional turmoil.”

Samantha credits the Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center for her renewed independence and stability.

But for a difficult two years, Samantha didn’t know if she and her children would survive.

I was in the process of going through a lengthy and expensive divorce. I had no support from the court,” Samantha explained, “because my husband quit his job before he filed for divorce. I was left without resources and he was trying to have me sign off on his retirement plan. I was devastated, distraught and hopeless.”

Lighthouse helped Samantha recover emotionally and financially “by giving me hope that things could be different in the future.”

But first, Samantha had to get over being ashamed about this stage of her life.

“I was extremely hesitant to go to the Lighthouse. I didn’t want to admit that I needed help,” Samantha said. “I was never before in a position where I had to ask for help. I was in my late 40s. I never expected to be in this situation. Nothing I could have done could have prevented this situation so there I was.”

Worrying about having enough money to cover the bills, Samantha now found herself and her three children living on $300 a month after the basic bills were paid.

“I had to pay $600 a month for medical insurance and couldn’t afford to go to the doctors because I couldn’t afford the co-payments,” Samantha said.

For her children’s sake, Samantha sucked up her pride and visited the local resource center.

“Lighthouse signed me up for health care insurance that fit my needs. And Lighthouse, through CalFresh (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), got my family money for groceries,” Samantha said. “Lighthouse also helped me gain permanent employment by locating a full-time position in the work force, although I hadn’t been employed in the work force for 25 years. I was a stay-at-home mom before that.”

The Lighthouse shared resources with Samantha so she could become self-reliant.

“They gave me hope that things would get better and encouragement. I had a lot of friends and family that wanted to help but didn’t know how,” Samantha reminisced. “I was so embarrassed, humiliated that I was in that position. I went to another city to use my CalFresh card. I didn’t want other people in line to say, ‘Look at her, she’s on Welfare.’ But Lighthouse comforted me, assuaged my fears and gave me help. Lighthouse has the professional expertise to help.”

Samantha hopes that others who could use a helping hand will not hesitate to go immediately to Lighthouse.

All of Lighthouse’s services are free and to all Placer County individuals and families.

That covers everyone, from babies to senior citizens and all genders.

The nonprofit Lighthouse serves every socioeconomic group with all services provided at no cost to the client. Services include individual, couples, family and group counseling for all ages, a multitude of educational classes, workforce readiness, Medi-Cal and CalFresh information and enrollment, housing/utility assistance, and parenting classes. The Lighthouse helps access free community resources, including infant car seats and also serves as a local diaper bank.

“In many cases, we’re changing the basic dynamics of the family,” said Lighthouse executive director Gary McDonald, “by altering negative generational patterns, enabling our clients to be better parents and more productive members of the community in which we all live.”

Lighthouse Counseling and Family Resource Center is able to provide its services free of charge because of government contracts, foundation grants, corporate and individual donations and its annual Celebrity Waiter luncheon fundraiser this Friday.

While the deadline for the Celebrity Waiter luncheon reservations is this Tuesday, residents can donate any amount anytime online at  Or mail or bring in checks to the Lighthouse at 427 A St., Suite 400, Lincoln, CA 95648. Gift cards for food and/or gas are also accepted, which will be distributed to clients who need emergency services.