The Lighthouse Effect

Updated: Jun 13

At the 40th annual National CASA/GAL Association Conference, author and speaker Steve Pemberton closed the conference with an emotional presentation on what he calls “the lighthouse effect.” Pemberton is the author of The Lighthouse Effect: How Ordinary People Can Have an Extraordinary Impact in the World.


In his presentation, Pemberton discussed how, throughout his childhood, seemingly ordinary individuals provided him with a transformational support system. Through their small and sometimes large acts of kindness, these individuals helped guide Pemberton on a path to success. Their coaxing, generosity, and kind words instilled in him the confidence and courage to transition from a child in foster care to a successful corporate executive.


Despite the abuse Pemberton received as a child, he found hope and guidance in the kindness that others gave him. The small acts of a neighbor bringing him books, a teacher allowing him to live with them, and the guidance of others helped serve as human lighthouses for Pemberton. Their support and coaxing helped to guide—and sometimes redirect—his path.



Everyday advocates from Columbia Gorge CASA work with children like Pemberton, whom some believe do not have a chance in the world at being successful. CASA's team of volunteer advocates serve as human lighthouses for these children. These advocates will, in many cases, never truly see the impact that they have made, though their consistence presence and support often have an immeasurable impact that helps guide children through the dark times and into a brighter future.


As Pemberton points out, human lighthouses know that the first picture is not the full story.


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