The playhouse, which has a slide and a fireman’s pole, was a gift to The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF), a former orphanage that sits on 13 acres in the heart of Bethesda.
“The lighthouse is very symbolically placed in front of the largest family shelter in Montgomery County,” Dr. Sheryl Brissett Chapman, NCCF’s executive director, said in a dedication ceremony on Friday afternoon, Nov. 2.
“When folks come here, they really need to feel that the community cares about them," she added.
Sandy Spring Builders, ProBuild, and Studio Z Design Concepts designed and built the lighthouse as a donation to Rebuilding Together, a nonprofit organization that provides critical repairs and renovations to low-income homeowners.
The lighthouse, along with seven other children’s playhouses, was auctioned off at a fundraiser in May.
Town of Somerset Mayor Jeffrey Slavin, the Montgomery County Community Foundation's 2011 Philanthropist of the Year, bid on the lighthouse on behalf of his 91-year-old father, a former sailor. The Slavin family bought the lighthouse for $10,000 and donated it to NCCF—Slavin is a strong believer in the importance of giving back to one's own community.
“My father came to Montgomery County 65 years ago, and my sister and I had the privilege of growing up this great jurisdiction,” said Slavin, whose father, Sanford Slavin, was in the audience.
“Today’s Montgomery County is not only diverse in race, religion, and ethnicity ... we are now home to a greater number of people in need," he added.
Chapman says the lighthouse will be more than a place for the kids to play—it will bring hope to families who are trying to find their way.
A young boy who is staying at the shelter recited a poem at Friday’s ceremony:
Sometimes I’m confused, not sure what to do, like a seaman who loses his way in the fog, but you are there for me. Your voice tells me the right direction...
Sometimes life is as rough as the uncaring sea. It causes panic, frustration, and despair. But you are there for me, a quiet entity on the edge of a rugged cliff. You are my beacon, my lighthouse.
Cindy Rich is director of communications for The National Center for Children and Families (NCCF).