As we walked down the hall, we noticed an elderly woman in a wheelchair, head down, disoriented, and moaning. Hayley skipped toward her-her body expressing all the joy that fills a preschooler's heart. As the woman heard Hayley's voice, she looked up, and a grin crept across her face. The young child scrambled up into her lap, and the woman called out, "Hayley!" Hayley gave her a kiss, hopped down, then pushed her chair a bit. The woman began laughing. Hayley giggled then told her, "We're going to see Granny and Pop." The lady, warmed by Hayley's presence, held out her hand and touched Hayley's shoulder. In that moment, both generations shared the light of their lives.
Once Upon a Time
When Cameron Kempson was seven years old, her maternal grandparents moved to her home town, Asheville, NC. As her grandparents grew older and needed more care, they moved into an assisted living facility to get the services they needed. Cameron enjoyed taking her daughter, Hayley, to see them. What Cameron experienced was the impact Hayley’s presence had on her grandparents and the other residents. This older generation also had an influence on Hayley. It was inspiring to see how both she and the senior adults lit up as they smiled, laughed, and spent time together.
Those touching experiences compelled Cameron to begin dreaming about an organization that would connect young and old so they too could share the light of their lives with each other. In 2006, Cameron and her former pastor, Rev. Ashley Crowder Stanley, began discussing how they could create this dream. They invited representatives from private businesses, local nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and community groups to discuss the impact intergenerational programming could have in their community. It was agreed that by partnering their skills and services, they could meet a wider spectrum of the community.
lightshare was born
Since its beginning, LightShare’s primary goal has been to bring generations together to make an impact on their lives and the lives of others. By connecting young and old, each generation experiences positive results. What LightShare did not anticipate, however, was that it would also develop into a vehicle for community building and unification. In the first community, LightShare offered an after-school enrichment program. As time passed, however, LightShare became a part of that community in two ways: 1) facilitating the development of safe and healthy family activities and 2) connecting other agencies and services with the neighborhood. In essence, LightShare involves generations to invest their resources to impact their community.
LightShare has evolved from a nonprofit organization that develops programs to a for-impact organization that connects generations to build and strengthen communities. We have developed our programming by listening to community residents, building on their assets, and partnering with organizations, businesses and residents who want to invest time, talent, and financial support. We are not in the community, we are the community. We hope you will consider being a part of the LightShare journey.