TEMPLE HILLS, Md. – When the Light the Way Foundation’s (LTWF) treasurer Derrick Terry was approached by the foundation’s president Janice Murphy at a fraternity education fundraiser, he immediately knew he had to be a part of the nonprofit organization.
In his words, “I have a passion for helping out youth. It gives me another way to give back.” Terry has found the work he does with LTWF to be very humbling, rewarding, and satisfying for his soul.
Seeing children mature and become motivated is reward enough for him. Getting to witness that special moment when they find out something about themselves that they didn’t realize they had beforehand (writer, artist, comedian, dramatic, etc.) means the world to him.
The foundation focuses on holding a yearly summer film camp for children and early teens from primarily Calvert County, Prince George’s County, Charles County, and Washington D.C. that provides opportunities in the field that would otherwise not be available to them.
Since 2017, they have held a week-long summer camp with a different theme each year. From start to finish, the kids are completely immersed in the process of creating a film from scratch. The only thing they aren’t involved in is post-production editing.
Camp takes place at Howard University (HU) in Washington D.C. and affords the students some access to HU’s public broadcasting television station facility. The first day is purely instruction about the basics of film.
From there, each day after that is filled with working on the film that becomes the final product of the week’s endeavors. This year’s final product was a 20-minute film entitled Dream Catcher.
While the film itself was directed by Teo Smoot, the theme was entirely the children’s idea. The film is a documentary composed of different camper-facilitated interviews about what it means to chase your dreams and explores the dreams of each camper. Terry shares, “The whole premise behind it is to catch it. Don’t do anything to deter it. The whole thing is to let the kids know to go and get their dream. This is just one way that helps them get to that dream. A dream becomes a goal and that goal becomes a reality.”
Each year LTWF partners with AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center in Silver Springs to host a red carpet premiere for the students’ film that their friends and family can attend with them. There are plenty of movie concessions and even a question-and-answer portion after the screening.
The cherry on top of this year’s premiere was that the film had also been nominated for the IndieX Film Festival in Los Angeles, California. The festival will be held on December 17th, 2022 and President Janice Murphy’s daughter will be in attendance to represent the campers. Terry shares, “This is our first time being selected for the festival. We were put on the shortlist that’s chosen from 20 countries. It’s a testament to the kids and the work they put in.”
To offer the camp at no cost to the campers, LTWF regularly hosts fundraisers throughout the year. Money is the main limitation of the camp currently. It takes approximately $500 per kid to conduct one week of the all-day camp. They provide breakfast, lunch, and snacks during the day, a custom shirt commemorating their time at camp, and anything else the kids need during the week. The foundation hopes to be able to extend the camp’s duration to two weeks and expand the number of children that they can accommodate, should enough funds be raised in the coming year.
Derrick Terry finished with this sentiment – “What I will say is that what we do as a foundation we don’t do for any type of glory or anything like that. It’s a 0% paid personnel organization. Janice’s vision is to provide opportunities for these kids that we didn’t have when we were growing up. I’m a firm believer that you can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution. We choose to be part of the solution.”
For more information on the Light the Way Foundation and to donate to their organization, please visit their website here.
They are currently running their yearly calendar fundraiser. To inquire about purchasing a calendar, please email Derrick Terry at DTerry@lightthewayfoundation.org.
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