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Mason retiring from after school program

By Leigh Anne Butler

The Lighthouse After School Program at the First United Methodist Church (FUMC) was started over 18 years ago, and Gayle Mason has been there since the beginning, serving as director of the program.

At the end of the school year, Mason announced her retirement from her position.  Mason retired in 2014 from the Tallassee City School System after working 25 years but continued to work with the after school program in the afternoons. 

Dric Williford, pastor at FUMC, recently stated, “Through her vision, hard work, and love of education, Gayle has helped provide a safe and nurturing place where Tallassee’s children can come to finish homework, spend time with friends, participate in fun activities, and have free time.”

The Lighthouse program is an after school program that operates from 3:00 until 6:00 Monday through Friday during the school year.

“Where Lighthouse differs from other after school programs is the centrality of Christ to its mission.  Children come into an environment filled with faith, participate in weekly devotions, and help with local mission projects,” Williford explained.

The Lighthouse program was the vision of Ida Turner, Ida McCartha, both members of FUMC, and FUMC pastor at the time, Dr. Ed Glaize.

“Ida told me she wanted a director and would like me to consider the position,” Mason states.  “At the time, I really just wanted to work part time, maybe two or three days a week.  She told me I needed to do it.  I told her I would think about it and pray about it, so I did.  The Lord put two words on my heart - empty nest.”

At the time, Mason’s only son, Brad was about to leave for college at Auburn University.  “I knew when The Lord put that on my heart I had to do it,” Mason said with a gentle smile.

“We started out with about 20 children and have had up to 34 some years.  Having devotion every day and being able to teach God’s word has been the most rewarding part of this job.  I like to think of it like a mini Bible School each day,” Mason explained.  “First Methodist has been so supportive of this ministry with their prayers, gifts and love.”

Mason in October of 2011 with students displaying their New Adventure Bibles from First Methodist Church’s Allen Cowan Sunday School Class.  Pictured (left to right) Front Row: Drake Bonner, Jacob Ingram, Logan Miller  Second Row: Morgan Merrett, Steele Segrest, Gayle Mason, Jacob Dantro

Along with providing a daily snack and assistance with nightly homework, the program offers a daily devotion and a weekly Chapel service on Wednesdays.  The program also focuses on monthly mission projects, which are mainly local projects like A.C.T.S and helping area hospice organizations.

“One year we made peanut butter pies as a fundraiser for Relay for Life, which was fun.  We’ve also made fleece blankets to send to Ecuador with our church’s mission team.  I’m happy to say we have filled shoeboxes every year as part of Operation Christmas Child.”

Mason is looking forward to spending time with her family, especially her grandsons, who have all attended the Lighthouse program.

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