Mission

We believe that God created each individual with value and a purpose for life. Founded upon Christ-centered values and principles, our mission is to provide vocational services, educational enrichment, and community integration experiences for persons with developmental disabilities to promote personal growth, opportunity and hope for their future.

History

Lighthouse Vocational Services, originally Lighthouse Rehabilitation Center, was established in 1975 at a time when persons with disabilities were often isolated at home or in institutions, without opportunities to integrate or work with other people. Seeing a great need and also great potential, our founders – Norman Hahn, Melvin Martin, John Sensenig and Ben Weaver – envisioned a center to give these people the opportunity to grow, connect, and contribute to their community.

Nearly 100 volunteers helped to renovate an old farmhouse in Blue Ball, PA where the owner of the building, Norman Hahn, agreed to not charge rent. Lighthouse started with only three participants but quickly grew to over 20. Most of the participants were from Christian, Old Order Mennonite or Amish families.

Lighthouse was founded on the belief that God created each person with value and purpose, and from the very beginning, participants were given dignity. The staff taught the participants to believe in God’s promises and discover Biblical principles for themselves. Individuals were offered counseling in the evening if they needed additional support. Participants were also given the opportunity to work. Lighthouse offered a supportive atmosphere where they could complete contract projects such as wooden toys, dolls cradles, wall sconces, scripture plaques, marble rollers, porch benches and ventilator lids for chicken houses.

At its beginning, Lighthouse was self-funded and about 50 percent of its revenue came from local businesses, churches, and individual donors. Paying invoices was sometimes an act of faith, and through this time, God provided. On several occasions when Lighthouse needed money for payroll and other expenses, someone would stop by unexpectedly with a church offering or contribution for the exact amount needed.

Today Lighthouse serves over 170 individuals and still carries the vision to help each person meet their greatest potential. Based in a 25,000 square foot warehouse building in New Holland, PA, Lighthouse offers participants a wide variety of in-house, community-based, and online opportunities to gain experience, explore new interests, integrate with the community and build the skills need for lasting employment.

Our Staff

Kirt Barden
CEO

Kirt is the CEO of Lighthouse Vocational Services since 2015 and has 25 years of experience in corporate management, turn-around, and employee motivation. He served as the Vice President of two of the four largest truck rental companies in the United States. At Rollins Systems, he was in charge of a budget of $550 million along with 20,000 trucks, tractors and trailers. He trained and motivated over 1000 emerging leaders in leadership development, attitude, and organizational management. Kirt has also owned three separate businesses, including one which performed medical exams for life insurance companies, which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Ryan Ellis
CFO/COO

Ryan started at Lighthouse in September 2020 and has felt at home ever since. As CFO/COO, Ryan oversees Finance, Human Resources and General Operations of Lighthouse Vocational Services.  He and his team work hard to ensure sustainability and growth of Lighthouse!  Ryan’s favorite thing about Lighthouse is walking around and seeing the genuine happiness on the faces of our staff and our participants!

Brian French
Director of Programs

Brian has worked in the field of services for people with Intellectual Disabilities since his graduation from Eastern Mennonite University in 1983 where he studied Psychology and Bible. After 2 years at a vocational program in Homestead, Florida, Brian returned to Pennsylvania and served at Friendship Community until 2012. During his time at Friendship Community, he was instrumental in expanding residential services, increasing government funding and promoting valued roles for people with Intellectual Disabilities. Brian also worked with many families, providing guidance to help them navigate the service system and access funding and support for their loved one. Brian joined the Lighthouse team in January, 2016 and is blessed to have the opportunity to serve the Lighthouse community. He lives in Blue Ball with his wife, Amy. They have four grown children.

Cheryl Brooks
Director of Employment Services

Cheryl has been with LVS for over 5 years. She started as the coordinator of OVR adult & student transition services, then Director of Production to now overseeing the Employment Services Department.

“I enjoy working with all staff here at LVS to help leaders emerge and then to watch them GROW is absolutely delightful and the best part of my job 😊”

Christina Cruz
Director of Office Administration

Having joined Lighthouse in 2015, Christina oversees the front office team which handles administrative assistance, grant writing, and reception; aiming to make visitors’ interface with Lighthouse warmly friendly and effective. Her organizational and creative strengths express through her coordination of Lighthouse’s quarterly newsletter, the writing and editing of publicity materials, and her work with the development team in groundwork for fundraising events and initiatives. She also assists the CEO as a political and board liaison. She feels that the Christ-centered culture of Lighthouse, which proactively supports everyone in developing their unique gifts, makes it an exceptional place to work and grow.

Pam Wise
Manager of Quality Assurance, Compliance and Innovations

Pam holds BA in Christian Education and Music from Messiah College and obtained her CESP credential through APSE.  Since coming to Lighthouse in 2013,  Pam has held different roles at LVS including: Job Coach, Vocational Rehab Specialist, Employment Services Coordinator, and is currently the Manager of Quality Assurance, Compliance, and Innovations.  Working closely with the CEO, she is involved in all departments reviewing processes and procedures as assigned to increase efficiency and quality of services.  She seeks innovative ways to connect and partner with local businesses and seeks avenues for potential new services that Lighthouse can provide.  She is responsible for the GROW model employee coaching program and organizes the annual staff training and development. Collaborating with the Director of Programs, she helps to maintain compliance with the many government regulations and licensing protocols.  Recently, her role has been instrumental in staying up to date with governmental issues that impact Lighthouse.  Pam enjoys seeing the growth in the participants as they are given opportunities and support to try new things.

Crystal Smeltzer
Director of Development & Church Relations

As the Director of Development and Church Relations, Crystal oversees marketing, advertising, capital campaigns, events, donor relations, and church relations. Crystal and her team are dedicated to sharing the many amazing stories that arise within Lighthouse with organizations, churches, newspapers, and radio within Lancaster and surrounding counties in order to bring awareness of the needs of those we serve. Over the last 16-years, Crystal has worked within multiple roles here at Lighthouse including working directly with the participants on the floor and working alongside Katie Martin, Events Coordinator, in starting up Community Participation Services.

Nate Bouffard
Creative Director

As creative director, Nate and his team work closely with all departments to create engaging content that keeps all supporters and followers informed of our programs and exciting news here at Lighthouse. Over the last 12 years Nate has worked within our Vocational Skills Training department and transitioned into this Creative role utilizing Digital and print media to deliver our message.

Board of Directors

Kirt Barden
Lighhouse Vocational Services
CEO
New member coming soon!
Dale Martin
Board Vice Chair
Brickerville Electric
Adam Rank
Treasurer
Acuity Advisors & CPAs
New member coming soon!
New member coming soon!
New member coming soon!
Steve Huyard
Board Member
CH Sauder Trucking LLC
Beverly Leisey
Board Member
JBT Bank
New member coming soon!
Tim Stauffer
Board Member
Stauffer Diesel
Ron Steiner
Board Member
Earl King Construction
Landis Zimmerman
Board Member
Zimmerman Oliver-Cletrac