Omega Lamplighters open new home at Railroad Village
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
As one of the students in the Omega Lamplighters mentoring program, Jaylen Ezekiel was asked to speak during a ribbon cutting ceremony and grand opening of the first permanent home for the organization.
He ran off a list of at least five places where the group had met, giving the impression that what he was there for Sunday afternoon was a little surreal. Jack McLean Park was the usual meeting place, although they gathered at several other places.
“It’s truly a blessing,” he said of being able to see the day that the organization moved into its own meeting space.
“I never thought we would be here,” he said. “I thought we would be stuck at Jack McLean all my life.”
They’ve named the space the Light House.
Royle King, executive director/co-founder of Omega Lamplighters, spent the last 10 years searching for the ideal spot. They came to terms earlier this year with the owner of Railroad Village off Mill Street for about 700 square feet in a warehouse structure.
They transformed it over the last three months, with contractor Harold Lyons, owner of Covenant Building Corporation, leading the renovation. He recruited several major companies to join in the effort to offer in-kind assistance.
Inside was transformed from bare concrete walls and plywood into something that captivated the attendees. It’s decorated with black sofas, a big-screen television, a gaming area and a small computer room.
“Seeing Omega Lamplighters start from a dream that Royle had and bring it to fruition is really something wonderful,” Lyons said. “Everything you see in here is a labor of love. I’ve been in business since 1994 but this, without doubt, has to be the most satisfying project I’ve ever completed.”
A ribbon cutting highlighted the ceremony. It also featured a performance by the Lamplighters’ step team.
“It feels like it’s the confirmation of something that has been in my heart for over 10 years,” King said. “I believe that God rewarded the sacrifices to do something for these kids. This is just the starting point.”
Speakers included Willie Williams, a board member, and pastor Rudy Ferguson.
Williams, who ran the Future Leaders Academy summer job program for the city before he became director for Pace Center for Girls, said his son has had a life-changing experience being in the Lamp Lighters program.
Ferguson, pastor at New Birth Tabernacle of Praise, said the Lamp Lighters program gives young people hope at a time when gun violence is taking lives.
“If you look around you see so many of our young Black boys are dying due to gun violence, but I’m so encouraged when I come to things like this; it reminds us that there are strong men leading our young Black boys into the future,” Ferguson said. “Parents, I commend you for making sure that your boys are into something positive. If we don’t get a hold to them the prison system will, or the grave. But today we are not celebrating that; we are celebrating the Light House.”
Midway through the ceremony, King appealed for fund-raising assistance. The goal of $10,000 would help to fund the programs they provide for the teenagers.
“We need your support,” he told the crowd. “We need your resources. Whatever you have, just give it because the one small thing that you do makes a huge difference.”