Shinning LIGHTS on community service

  • Published
  • By By Staff Sgt. Veronica Pierce
  • 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
Volunteer opportunities are a great way to get out into the local community and make a positive change. Volunteering while overseas can sometimes be a challenge due to cultural sensitivities, so it can take a little creativity to find appropriate ways to get out and help.

Love Impact Give Help Teach Serve, or LIGHTS, is a volunteer organization here open to active duty members, civilians and dependents of all ages. The group focuses on helping the community with simple art projects at special needs schools around Adana, Turkey.

The community outreach doesn't stop with painting. After the projects are complete, volunteers spend time playing games and interacting with the students.

"Due to the unique barriers we do projects that cater to the students' needs, so typically LIGHTS will do a simple art project first," said Jessica Flora, LIGHTS coordinator. "For instance, after the project at the school for deaf, we simply play soccer or another game with the children. While at the school for the blind, we play games using music and large parachutes. The children (and adults) really enjoy the time that we spend with the students."

Some LIGHTS members have made volunteering a family affair, bringing their children to help with projects.

"Many of our current volunteers have children under five years old," said Flora. "It's a great project to do together as a team or family unit, and a great way to introduce young children to the joy of serving others."

One of the current ongoing projects is at the Kazim Karabekir School for Autism. Volunteers are working on painting murals within the schools courtyard area.

"We are very appreciative of all the volunteers," said Hudaverdi Mutlu, Kazim Karabekir principle. "The volunteers have been great with the students and keeping good communication while being respectful of others' cultures."

The vibrant colors of the murals are great visual and educational tools for students with autism, explained Mutlu.

This summer LIGHTS will continue their efforts by painting eight classrooms at the school.

"This is a great volunteer opportunity while stationed here in Turkey," said Flora. "With these projects we have the ability to positively impact the children through play and interaction. For many of the students we are their first interaction with Americans."

The biggest hurdle LIGHTS faces is the lack of volunteers, explained Flora. The organization is currently seeking individuals who would like to make a difference.

"We are committed to making a positive difference in the lives of the people wherever we are stationed in the world," said Flora. "Our goal is to connect people and needs."

For more information on LIGHTS and how to get involved, visit their Facebook page at LIGHTS@Incirlik or email