Written by : Mary Dunklin 

House of Shine Helps Kids Find Their Life’s Passion

As a lifelong educator, Claudia Beeny, Ph.D., has seen how beneficial it is to take a break from the daily barrage of noise and distraction.

“You need quiet,” Claudia says. “Slow down long enough for your head to hear what your heart is saying.”

She speaks from personal experience. It was during one of her own breaks that she realized her dream was to start House of Shine, a North Texas-based nonprofit that offers mentoring programs that help women and children find their true passions. She believes once people take this time for self-reflection, they not only improve their lives but the world as a whole.

“We all want to know at the end of the day that our life here on Earth mattered,” says Claudia, who spent 23 years working in higher education.

Despite her professional success, she felt disconnected from her creative side. So, a decade ago, she started a blog where she shared one creative idea every day. The value she felt from this project ignited the spark that led to the creation of House of Shine. Many of her early insights from the blog are woven into House of Shine’s custom workshops, weekly classroom curriculum and projects such as a DO52 kit that has action words for every week of the year to encourage creativity and nurture self-reflection.

People of all ages and backgrounds have been drawn to House of Shine’s workshops, including schoolchildren, grandmothers and stay-at-home moms. “What binds everyone together is the desire to live a full and rich life,” Claudia says.

During a typical workshop, Claudia shares personal insights and raises questions about a main topic. For example, one recent theme was happiness. Attendees then had time to reflect, journal and discuss their answers in small groups. It’s this community mentoring that helps make the programs successful, Claudia says. She notes that participants learn as much from each other as they do from experts.

“We’re the pause in people’s lives,” she says. “The real work is when they take the time to think about how these concepts matter to them.”

Never Too Early

House of Shine classroomKatie Kolkmeier, a college student of Claudia’s long before the nonprofit was formed, continues to benefit from House of Shine’s ideas. Katie says Claudia has always been a natural at mentoring and life coaching.
“I feel like I am a product of House of Shine,” Katie says. “My time with Claudia brought out in me what I never knew was there.”
After graduating, Katie decided to start working for House of Shine so she could help others have similar life-changing discoveries. Now, as the director of programming, Katie helps write and teach the curriculum used in all grade levels. Most of the students who take the weekly classes are journaling and exploring their talents for the first time.
“It gives the students an opportunity to hold a mirror up to themselves,” she says. The curriculum helps students pinpoint their interests and find their innate abilities. Students can choose school assignments, service projects and internships they care about.
When kids learn their core values at a young age, they will be set up for success for the rest of their lives, Katie says. One of the most important lessons is “helping people see that things that come to you naturally aren’t meaningless.”

Read more: The Path to Purpose

Group Effort

Even if these concepts sound simple, Claudia has seen how easy it is to get lost in the daily struggle of work and excuses and insecurity. But things can get back on course, she says.

“You already know what you need to do to shine,” she says. “Often the question is, ‘Am I listening and acting on what I need to do?’”

House of Shine is always seeking volunteers to help with fundraisers, special events and craft projects. Claudia looks forward to continued growth and sees potential in offering curriculum and workshops nationally. “There is a need,” she says. “People want to have this conversation together.”

Read more: 4 Ways to Stay Engaged With Lifelong Learning

Mary Dunklin is a writer and editor who specializes in family, fitness and travel. Her last article for Live Happy was about yoga's impact on depression.

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