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LizLiz Velazquez
 
A Statement from the Founder and Chairman
 

The mission and vision of Light On The Mountain was written in July of 2004 however it was conceptualized and brought into being through a lifetime of personal experiences.  These experiences have highlighted for me the importance of addressing the needs of the struggling children of our communities and doing something about it.

My first experience came in Colombia, South America where as a child of 8 I was introduced to the realities of class and social differences when I fell in love with our home worker’s son.  Upon being discovered together, we were separated and told we were not to play together any more and in spite of my age, the realities of his condition in life and mine were made very apparent.  This introduction to the harsh truth of how socio/economic differences can impact a child was made even more vivid when my parents brought us to the United States in the early 70’s and we all became immigrants.  My parent’s divorce a year later, made my mom a single parent with four children, learning a new language and trying to acquire the necessary skills to work in a different environment. Needless to say, the issue of socio/economic conditions was highlighted once again.  We were struggling to get by, childcare was not an option, and the friendly next door neighbor who offered to help my mom with childcare was a welcomed angel.  Unfortunately for me, this helpful individual had other intentions.  At this point in my life, I became the victim of abuse.

By the early 1980’s I was a young adult, single parent struggling to survive economically and with very little education or direction in my life.  I realized that unless I did something about it this pattern would soon be re-created in my son.  I went back to school and my education in social/ cultural anthropology at the University of California, Davis, help me to realize that I was not alone in my experiences but that I was a part of a large dynamic of racial, social and economic conditions.  In my last year at the University of California, I was awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to participate in a study of the migration to the United States by Mexicans and the effects immigration had on the family and their socio/economic conditions.  Children once again were being affected by the realities of poverty and the struggles of the under privileged.  It was at this point that I realized that it was not enough to study it or talk about it, something had to be done.

From this point forward, whether I was working in social service assisting Cuban refugee families and other disenfranchised groups, or in real estate assisting Hispanic’s and other financially challenged families realize the dream of home ownership, the need to create a sanctuary for struggling children and their families, to provide for them educational, spiritual, motivational and recreational activities became more real.  In July of 2004, I sat down and wrote the first draft of what has become the mission of Light On The Mountain.

The countless stories I have heard while in the process of rehabilitating the old Mountain View School that is now the home of Light On The Mountain are the added fuel for the mission.  This is about the young woman that cried while I told her what this project was about and offered to volunteer because she had been abused.  The story of the delivery driver who when told what we were doing related how his brother had shot his parents because of continuous physical abuse.  Or the man that offered to repair the floors for free because he was “one of those children”.  It is about the children I have encountered as a therapeutic foster parent and guardian ad litem for the State of North Carolina.  In the larger view, it is about the fact that in the midst of incredible natural beauty and abundance, we are situated in one of the poorest counties in North Carolina, where child abuse and drug abuse are wreaking havoc on our communities. That we have over 1000 children in social service custody in the area and surrounding counties and over 100,000 cases of child abuse reported annually in North Carolina.

Our mission as the board of Light On The Mountain is to help bring about positive change in the lives of struggling children.  Our goal is to impact the lives of 300 plus children this year, but as one very gracious donor to our cause said, “If you touch one child’s life you will have succeeded”.  We are a group of concerned citizens, sponsors and volunteers, who are taking their world responsibility seriously and realize that “we have to do something for the world”.  We choose to do it by making our children’s Light shine so that they may become the productive, involved, aware and conscientious leaders of our future – Not the victims.

 

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Liz Velazquez
Founder & Chairman