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10/22/2013 - Sacred Heart students help Bridgeport’s Lighthouse Program
Sacred Heart University has once again received funding for Bridgeport’s before- and after-school program for elementary school children. The city has granted funding to the fall semester’s Lighthouse Program of just under $530,000.

In a partnership that dates back to 1998, the university will coordinate and manage educational and recreational programs at six Bridgeport educational centers: Bryant, Columbus, Discovery Magnet, Geraldine Johnson, Madison and John Winthrop, both before and after school.

The 15-year-old alliance involves 15 to 20 undergraduates who will work toward reaching 650 of the city’s at-risk elementary pupils. The university regularly sponsors volunteer efforts for students who mentor and coach youngsters.

The Lighthouse Program draws not only those who plan to become educators, but students from a wide variety of disciplines. Each Sacred Heart staff member undergoes a customary background check, and at least three of those on staff at any given site must be trained in CPR.

According to Matthew Kaye, director of volunteer programs at the University, Sacred Heart mentors assist with homework preparation and lead a variety of enrichment programs that range from music and dance to golf and tennis.

“Our students are engaged in a large number of community projects,” Kaye said. “They include our award-winning Habitat for Humanity work, an immersion experience in Bridgeport city life called Community Connections, international humanitarian relief work and more.”

He said this year, for example, Sacred Heart has extended a program begun last year called the SHU-North End Partnership. Organized in conjunction with City Counselors Tom McCarthy and Michelle Lyons, the volunteer effort will connect students with elderly residents and assist them with the upkeep of their homes. The SHU-North End Partnership kicked off this year with a project to clean the baseball fields at Blackham Elementary School.

“Over the past decade, Sacred Heart students and faculty have shown overwhelming support for the Lighthouse Program,” said Tammy Papa, director of the Lighthouse Program. “We feel privileged to have such a wonderful resource in our own back yard and are confident that the relationship between the university and the city of Bridgeport Lighthouse Program will continue to grow, benefiting even more Bridgeport children and families in the years to come.”