LighthosuelogoBy Bonnie Mentel

The MIDFLORIDA Credit Union generously gave a $50,000 gift to Lighthouse Ministries in the honor and memory of Amanda Gayle Kitchens O’Brien, who was passionate about those less fortunate in her community. O’Brien had been a supporter of Lighthouse Ministries for many years and was an employee at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union.

Lighthouse Ministries, located in Lakeland, is a non-profit organization that has been serving the poor and homeless of West Central Florida since 1977.

“Gayle always had a heart for the homeless and at-risk population. She played with the children in the women’s facility. She got to know the ladies. It seemed like she just loved the work that we did. Through the years, she gave, but we didn’t have a lot of contact with her. I guess she had conversations with people she worked with at MIDFLORIDA Credit Union. They, in turn, wanted to have closure in Gayle’s memory when she passed away. As a board, they decided to give $50,000 for the men’s ministry at Lighthouse,” said Steve Turbeville, president and CEO of Lighthouse Ministries in Lakeland.

That donation was used to complete the community room in the men’s rescue mission.

According to its website, The Lighthouse Ministries Men’s Rescue Mission is “equipped to serve the homeless and at-risk in Lakeland. Doors open at 3:30 p.m. daily to serve those who need a meal, a hot shower, and a warm bed. During their stay, there is an afternoon chapel service where local pastors share the gospel message. All are served a hearty snack, a hot dinner and breakfast, and a new change of clothes during their stay.”

The residents of Lighthouse Ministries are required to serve meals to the homeless who come for assistance.

“Our men were serving the homeless, but they didn’t have anywhere to have their own space. This gave them a nice community room, a library, and a meeting room; somewhere where they could just chill out. It was just really a great setting because it’s on the second story and overlooks our hydroponic garden,” Turbeville said.

The rescue mission is located at 117 E. Magnolia St. in Lakeland and is open 365 days a year. Contact (863) 687-4076 ext. 251.