Cooking: Love made visible New Bethany Ministries celebrates its renovated kitchen
It’s been a long time coming, but the New Bethany Ministries’ Mollard Hospitality Center and kitchen received its first makeover since 2004, courtesy of several generous private donors, members of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem congregation, and Boyle Construction.
The kitchen serves two daily meals, Monday – Friday, a meal on alternating Sundays, and special holiday meals for approximately 150 people each day. In 2016, the kitchen served over 57,000 meals.
Diane Elliot, New Bethany Ministries’ executive director, cut the ribbon leading into the newly-revamped kitchen, with its gleaming stainless steel counters, new sink, open shelving, and new stove and oven on Friday, Sept. 8.
“The renovation took two weeks,” said Elliot, “and included more updates to the HVAC, lights, and a new poured epoxy floor.
“We’re so grateful to Boyle Construction, who worked within our budget and our timeline with such a quick turnaround. Our kitchen really didn’t see much down time at all,” she said.
Elliot thanked others who helped to fund the project, including members of First Presbyterian Church.
“We absolutely could not do this without that partnership and we don’t know how to thank you for everything,” she said. “Bethlehem is a city that loves and cares for all people. And we’re a place – like First Presbyterian – where we welcome people. We feed them meals, but we feed their souls, too.”
Bethlehem resident Bill Stevens and his wife Sue feel a deep commitment to the charities their church supports. “One of our groups [from First Presbyterian] works two Saturdays a month in the kitchen, and we have another group that does lunches. We wanted to contribute to help pay for the kitchen renovations, so First Presbyterian donated the money it collected during its 2016 Christmas Eve services to help pay for the improvements.”
In addition to financial contributions, members of First Presbyterian Church provide food and prepare and serve pancake breakfasts on the first and last Saturdays of each month at the center.
Bill Stevens says the church also conducted a food drive in August that yielded over 3,000 pounds of food for the kitchen and food bank.
Glen Adelsberger, an elder at First Presbyterian, is happy to be a part of the ministry. He’s spent nearly 30 years helping to engage the congregation to serve the community. “The need for ministry has grown,” he says, “just tremendous growing pains, and I’m glad we can help.”
New Bethany Ministries board member, Kerry Wroble, also thanked First Presbyterian for its commitment to the organization.
“We aren’t a church,” he says, “but we do the great work of the Lord. It’s easy to focus inward and on the internal, but First Presbyterian looks outward to make an investment in the community.”
Elliot also thanked Don and Penny Pray, from Westfield, N.J., whose generous donation made it possible to replace the old, cracked floor with a new poured epoxy floor that’s easier to clean and maintain.
“We’re blessed that we could help financially with this project,” said Pray. “This floor represents the strength of the organization and community.”
Elliot said, “We’re really ecstatic with the result, because I think this is the first time that we’ve finally convinced the people we serve that they matter to us and they care. Trust is a major issue, but this renovation sends a strong message that people in the community and our staff really do care.
“It’s a long-awaited day and so worth it,” she said. “I’m really overcome because it’s so wonderful. Everyone – members of the community, First Presbyterian, our staff, Boyle [Construction] became involved to make sure we could open on time. Of course, we hit unexpected snags, but we made it happen.
“Trinity Church [in Bethlehem] stepped up to help feed our people while our kitchen was closed so they weren’t left out in the cold.”
With this big project crossed off her list, Elliot’s not slowing down her plans for future improvements.
“Our food pantry move is next,” she says. “We have the money and now we’re waiting for paperwork and the final nuts and bolts. Hopefully we’ll have it open by the end of the year.”
The food pantry will be a choice pantry, expanding to help all Bethlehem residents and those facing a food emergency.
“We’ll have more refrigeration, so room for more produce and overall storage,” says Elliot.