Life Aspirations Are Visibly Celebrated at Bethany Children’s Home

Wish Petals“For life starting anew.” “For peace in the world.” “To be able to go home.”

The hopes and dreams of the youth at United Church of Christ-affiliated Bethany Children’s Home are captured each year on small “wish petals” that are photographed and posted on Bethany’s Facebook page.

Originally started in 2015 as decorations for a donor event, the petals were designed –– with the help of Bethany’s Art and Recreation departments –– to show supporters how they make an ongoing difference in the lives of Bethany youth. The petals were symbolically grouped into flower shapes with the overarching slogan, “Because of you, Bethany is able to help our youth achieve their goals toward a brighter future.”

The decorations were so successful that Bethany has made the project a permanent fixture. Each year, the wishes, goals, and dreams of Bethany youth are collected and posted so that Bethany’s online supporters know of the impact of their gifts, now and in the future.

Founded more than 150 years ago in Womelsdorf, Pa., Bethany Children’s Home has developed and fostered ties with many UCC congregations, says Kirsten Keim-Shendge, Bethany’s communications and event coordinator.

“We offer speakers to churches and other service organizations to share the story and mission of Bethany Children’s Homes through ‘Mission Moments’ and Sunday School services,” Keim-Shendge says. “We also welcome tours of campus where groups can help a cottage with a project and share a meal and fellowship. We are always inviting new groups to visit our campus.”

The CHHSM-member ministry also hosts a unique fundraising event, “Over the Edge for Bethany” (#ote4bethany), where adventurous supporters can rappel down a local building in exchange for raising funds. “It’s a successful and unique event that supports our youth programs [and conveys] Bethany’s story to a new audience,” says Keim-Shendge.

Bethany will be offering a free concert music series this summer for youth, staff, and the greater community to enjoy. Also on the docket for 2017: a new health initiative offering classes in hygiene, nutrition, and leading a healthy lifestyle in order to prepare Bethany youth for successful adulthood. The initiative is part of Bethany’s commitment to holistic health and education services for those it serves.

In these ways and many more, Bethany Children’s Home carries on its mandate of offering a sanctuary of protection and support for in-need youth in Berks County, Pa.

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