‘Souper’ day for New Bethany Ministries
Donors and supporters came together to celebrate the work accomplished by New Bethany Ministries by hosting a soup luncheon at The Event Center at Blue in Bethlehem Township.
Rabbi Emeritus Allen Juda of Brith Sholom Congregation gave the invocation.
After lunch, New Bethany Ministries Executive Director Diane Elliott welcomed her guests and reviewed some of the accomplishments and programs of NBM.
She said the organization would soon be completing renovations on a four-bedroom single family house that should be completed by the end of this year and should be available for rental in January 2018.
“We will be opening our new choice-based food pantry,” Elliot said. “This will quadruple space, and increase refrigeration for fresh foods. As donations permit, it will be available to those in need on a weekly basis. It will open in the first quarter of 2018. We plan to have an open house; I hope you will all attend.”
Elliott said that the space vacated by the old pantry will be used by the new Center for Community Partnerships. She said this center will house partnerships that address mental health issues, find housing, employment, offer English as a second language, have educational and nutrition classes and also provide New Bethany with meeting space.
“We will also be looking at after school programming for children,” Elliot said. “It will also be home to the Ruth Heilperin Reading Room.
“I believe that we are only limited by the willingness and imagination of our volunteers. If you are interested in being involved, please let me know.”
Elliott thanked those who she said helped organize the event.
“My thanks to Bob Price and Rich Hooper who worked tirelessly to bring us all together.” She said. “Thanks to Blue for your incredible support for these 26 years. And thanks to the family that has offered to match our freewill offering up to $20,000.
“Our goal is to provide a place where healing can happen—a place that is warm, caring and respectful, and where there are moments of joy,” she said. “You are vital partners in this effort. Your support, empathy, warmth and smiles demonstrate to those we serve that, ‘Everyone does matter.’”
Keynote speaker Ashley Russo entertained the 345 guests then led them through text-to-give instructions that allowed them to pledge monetary gifts to the charitable organization.
Russo, an enthusiastic dynamo with a bright smile and engaging personality, is a two-time Emmy winning executive producer, host of The PEAK TV. She is also the president of ASR Media productions.
She also walks the walk when it comes to social issues. As a parent, she told the diners, she wanted to raise her children to be “financially responsible and community minded.”
According to Russo, the kids skipped believing in Santa Claus and, instead, got money from Mom and Dad with the challenge to give the money away.
“We took them to visit a half a dozen non-profits where they experienced the needs in our community first hand,” she said.
One of those non-profit visits her children made was a trip to New Bethany Ministries, she explained in an interview following her presentation.
She said it was part of her own upbringing. Her family gave back. Among her first exposures were to a special learning center, to a senior facility and to a Big Sisters program.
“It’s part of who I am and who I want my family to be,” she said.
Also speaking was a recipient of New Bethany Ministries’ help.
“I was homeless and didn’t have anywhere to go; New Bethany Ministries helped me from going crazy,” testified Jose Carrasco, addressing attendees.
Carrasco said that the staff at New Bethany would “push me to take the steps I needed [in order] to change things.”
Not only did Carrasco get off the streets, he got the guidance that helped turn his life around. With that help he got a job.
He said his next step is to go to school.
“I want to keep moving forward; never looking back,” he said. “Having been homeless…I don’t take anything for granted.”