Digest>Archives> June 2005

Wickie's Wisdom

By Timothy Harrison

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Over the past ten to fifteen years, we have seen the lighthouse movement in this country grow by leaps and bounds. For a while, it seemed as though a new lighthouse group was being formed monthly. In the early years, there were two national organizations formed and one major regional organization. However, for the most part, these groups were formed to care for one particular lighthouse and to save and record the history of that one lighthouse or the lighthouses in their immediate area.

Some of these groups were formed by a handful of people, some were formed by large numbers of people, but in the end, no matter what the size of the organization, 95% of the work was done and continues to be done by only a handful of people in each organization.

While tens of thousands of people support the restoration and preservation of lighthouses, few actually volunteer any time. While many people join and will contribute, most join a group at the lowest monetary membership level. Some join at the lowest level or volunteer little time because that’s all they can legitimately do. However, others join just so they can say “I helped,” or “I’m helping to save that lighthouse,” or “lighthouses.” Many people who can legitimately afford to give more time or money simply don’t, generally because they are not true believers in the lighthouse cause, something the rest of us all need to work on. We need to stress how vital it is to save yesterday’s history for future generations.

While every donation is important and vital, receiving only small donations can cause some organizations to fail or actually slow their growth and slow down restoration work. Why? The answer is simple: opening mail, processing donations, developing a newsletter, printing a newsletter, mailing a newsletter, keeping track of memberships and membership categories is time consuming and expensive, although it is the cost of doing business. But, nonprofits, although they are a business, are really a group of people trying to save lighthouses and lighthouse history, and these groups need your help and your commitment to successfully accomplish their goals. The longer a restoration project takes, the more expensive the project becomes. Nonprofit lighthouse groups are not in business to make money; they are in the business of saving history and they only exist through the generosity of others.

Your financial help is needed now more so than ever before. While it’s true some lighthouses have been saved because of dedicated people, many more lighthouses are in danger of being lost, and many restoration projects are delayed and stalled because of a lack of funds.

Naturally, I’d like to see you make a donation to the nonprofit American Lighthouse Foundation, P.O. Box 889, Wells, ME 04090. I only say that because I have served without pay for the past 11 years as president of that organization, a group that has 20 lighthouses under its auspices as well as a museum, and we are constantly striving to raise money to save lighthouses and their history. We need your financial help! But it doesn’t have to be us that you help; it can be any worthy lighthouse group.

Now, yes, right now, as you finish reading this, I urge you to make a commitment to a lighthouse group, any lighthouse group. Please open your checkbook and send a donation check today. Then write yourself a note and make a commitment to yourself and that lighthouse group to send a certain specific amount each and every month to help save a lighthouse and its history. Will you help make a difference?

That’s my opinion, I welcome yours.

This story appeared in the June 2005 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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