Let There Be Light!

Horizons Delmarva hosts its second annual holiday house tour to support its six-week summer enrichment program, which benefits students from 21 area schools and their families

Written by Ian Post  |  Photography by Grant L. Gursky

This December, your holiday joy can bring a summer of enrichment to low-income children in the community — and pave the way for their future success through Horizons Delmarva. 

In 2020, Horizons Delmarva introduced a new winter fundraising event, known as the Holiday House Tour, which celebrated the holiday spirit through decoration and donation. Nearly two dozen local houses decked out in lights and holiday-themed decorations were featured in a driving tour, as well as a beautiful coffee-table book, which participants could take home for just $30. Horizons Delmarva Executive Director Joe Laque said, “Who doesn’t love hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights?” This year, the expanded tour will highlight a community participation aspect, as Laque hopes the tour will include even more stunning lights, from a diverse group of decorators.

The proceeds from the Holiday House Tour and book directly support over 170 students in Wicomico and Worcester counties who are enrolled in Horizons Delmarva. 

Through its six-week summer enrichment program, Horizons Delmarva seeks to tackle a correlation between low-income students and low college or trade-school attendance. According to Laque, many studies attribute the historically low matriculation rates of low-income public school students to minimal engagement during the summer. With a 4:1 student/teacher ratio, Horizons Delmarva provides opportunities for these students to “learn by doing” as they receive swim lessons three days per week, attend field trips around the peninsula, perform hands-on science experiments and participate in other educational activities. 

The Horizons Delmarva program takes place at three sites: the Salisbury School, Wor-Wic Community College and the Glad Tidings Church in Pocomoke City. The nonprofit’s growing impact means it now reaches students from 21 public schools in the region.

Horizon Delmarva’s goal is to better the community by nourishing career-focused individuals who can give back through all the skills they learned during summer enrichment. But the individualized program goes above and beyond, as it tracks students’ success through the K-12 school years and offers private tutors to struggling students. Moreover, parent workshop dinners — with movies to entertain the kids — provide education on financial literacy, recognizing cyberbullying, and healthy cooking. 

Founded in 2003 as a partnership between The Salisbury School and the Wicomico County Board of Education, the local office of Horizons National has had a history of success. Since the beginning, students who enrolled in the Horizons Delmarva summer enrichment program have had a 99% high school graduation rate, consistently higher GPAs and test scores than their peers and less behavioral issues overall. 

The 2021 Holiday House Tour will take place December 10-31 and more information about the driving route and book can be found on Horizons Delmarva’s website, HorizonsDelmarva.org. CS 

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