My journey with Lighthouse Christian Ministries began nearly four years ago on a cold and rainy night in January. My youngest son and I just completed a father/son dinner and were headed home when a random thought popped into my mind about visiting the Lighthouse Soup Kitchen. This thought led to a detour that has changed my life forever.

From the moment I walked in the door of The Lighthouse, I knew that something special was going on. I was expecting to encounter a grim environment that would be uncomfortable at best. To my surprise, I witnessed heartfelt love, compassion and encouragement for those in need of a helping hand. The joy I saw in the Lighthouse staff and volunteers was overwhelming. Right before my eyes, I was witnessing reality to the words “it is more blessed to give than it is to receive.”

This random visit has blossomed into a major pillar in my life. Getting an opportunity to be part of a broad community effort to help those with the greatest needs is beyond rewarding. The Night In A Box event is a great example of how our community has pulled together to raise awareness for the challenges associated with homelessness. Here are five things that everyone should know about this very important event:

1. Night In A Box started two years ago when Shawn Arington (executive director) told me that he was going to sleep on the sidewalk until we had raised the required funds to open the doors of the Gospel House Emergency Shelter. I thought that this was the craziest idea I had ever heard which meant that I, of course, had to join him. Todd Strahm and Kevin Kennedy also joined in the fun.

2. That our community rallied behind this great cause which resulted in the Gospel House doors opening in mid-February 2012.

3. That the Gospel House Emergency Shelter has capacity for 85 men and women.

4. That we are working to raise $100,000 through this year’s event to purchase the building that the Gospel House Emergency Shelter has been renting.

5. The Night In A Box event is spreading. Jacksonville, Fla., will be holding their first event Nov. 21. Could this event in little Wenatchee spread to all corners of the globe?

Bart Tilly was born and raised in Wenatchee. He and wife Coreen have been married for 22 years and they have three teenage sons. Bart has been a board member of The Lighthouse Christian Ministries for two years. He has worked in the software industry for the last 16 years and is currently vice president of sales for Needle, Inc. out of Salt Lake City.