The day before this year's coldest snap, Mae called New Bethany for help. Her family had been living in their car.
If you want to get to know the heart and soul of New Bethany, come and work reception. I was answering the phone one Tuesday afternoon, filling in and also orienting myself to the organization. I spent much of the day referring callers concerned about the predicted cold snap.
Mae (not her name) was living in her car with her husband. She called asking for available permanent shelter. She and her husband both had jobs. They had a bank account. She said to me, "I've never been homeless before. I don't know how this works." I told her that resources were available, and I walked her through her options. Most immediately, Mae needs a clean and safe place to stay overnight. Mae was surprised that we could first have her over to our facility for a shower and some clean clothes, before heading to the Bethlehem Emergency Shelter overnight. New Bethany is open as a day shelter when the emergency shelter is closed, so Mae could return in the morning for breakfast and lunch. At no time should her family have to stay in her car.
Mae is our neighbor. This is what New Bethany is all about. Mae said she was overwhelmed by the generosity of us and others. At New Bethany, we create opportunities and set people on a path forward. We focus first on the most basic of needs, food and shelter. We listen to our guests and work with the community to best address long term needs.
posted by Marc Rittle, Executive Director of New Bethany Ministries