Lighthouse to Lead Runaway and Homeless Youth Programs Previously Operated by Common Ground

    PONTIAC, Mich. (December 6, 2022) — Lighthouse, a Pontiac-based nonprofit dedicated to building equitable communities that alleviate poverty, is pleased to announce it will assume leadership of the following three runaway and homeless youth programs previously operated by Common Ground:

    • Sanctuary, a three-week overnight residential shelter for youth ages 10-16 with individual, group, and family counseling, art therapy, life skills development and more.
    • A Step Forward, an 18-month transitional housing program for youth ages 16-18 to foster independence, reunite with family, or locate safe, stable, housing.
    • Graduated Assistance Program (GAP), a two-year transitional housing program for youth up to 25 years of age.

    Beginning in February 2023, these important and lifesaving programs will be added to the broad range of services Lighthouse provides to assist the most vulnerable members of our community. For more than 50 years, Lighthouse has been a beacon of hope for our neighbors in need, operating emergency food and shelter programs, developing affordable housing, and providing housing assistance, supportive services, follow up care, and more.

    “When we were approached by Common Ground about assuming responsibility for the runaway and homeless youth programs, it was an absolute ‘yes’ for us. We are proud to be trusted stewards of these critical programs because of our experience, capacity, and dedication to our mission,” said Jenny Poma, Chief Operating Officer at Lighthouse. “Unaccompanied youth are the only population we were not directly serving and now we are. We are handling all of the most urgent needs in our community for youth, families, and single individuals.”

    Based in Royal Oak, Common Ground was founded in 1971 by a group of students, parents and community leaders who were concerned about an increase in substance abuse and suicide among young people. The organization will continue to operate with a focus on behavioral health services which are in high demand.

    “This is a bittersweet day,” said Common Ground President and CEO Heather Rae. “The Runaway and Homeless Youth programs have been part of Common Ground since 1998. We are proud of our staff and the decades of service to homeless youth in the region. Soon, these programs will be in the capable hands of Lighthouse.”

    No immediate staffing changes are expected; the programs, which serve approximately 150 youth annually, will continue to operate as they currently do. 

    “We now have three Oakland County legacy programs under one roof. Common Ground, Lighthouse, and South Oakland Shelter all started as grassroots initiatives responding to the immediate needs of the community,” Poma added. “We are proud to continue to grow and expand our services in a thoughtful way to meet the changing needs that exist today.”

    Common Ground’s runaway and homeless youth programs also hold a special place in the heart of Lighthouse CEO Ryan Hertz. His first field placement as a student of social work was at the Sanctuary many years ago.

    “My time at the Sanctuary involved learning from incredible lifelong servant leaders like Barbara Broesamle and Steve Overstreet. I considered Common Ground’s CEO at the time, Tony Rothschild, a friend and mentor up until his unfortunate passing in 2019,” Hertz said. “I often reflect on his positive impact on our community, and his approach to leadership continues to resonate and guide me in my work. It is an honor both for me personally, and for Lighthouse, to play a role in stewarding a small part of what Tony and so many others contributed to these programs at Common Ground over the years.”

    Lighthouse is currently raising funds to cover additional costs associated with operating the runaway and homeless youth programs. To support the effort, visit this link.