News and Musings:
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Nearly 300 Turn Out to Celebrate BHA's 25 Years
It started out simply. Ronitta was a teen mother. In her own apartment at BHA for the first time. But why was her prized Thanksgiving turkey burning so quickly?
It was one of many poignant moments shared by BHA graduates who looked back over the past 25 years to see how far they'd come. It turns out Ronitta didn't know to extract the inside bag of goodies from the turkey, a problem her case manager remedied over an emergency phone call.
Ronitta now sees the long view of course. Her daughter just graduated from high school, a goal that Ronitta herself achieved at BHA years ago.
More than $53,000 has been raised so far to support single mothers like Ronitta and their children at Brethren Housing Association. And you can add to that tally by donating online here.
Thanks to all our corporate sponsors who already contributed to our work through the Silver Celebration!
Thank you to all who contributed to make the Silver Celebration an amazing success!
With Major Sponsors:
Saul Ewing LLP
Janice Ruhl and Dottie Hershberger in memory of Ellie Miller
McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
Friends of Patty Kim
The Hess Agency
Kreiser's Garage Manheim
Mette Evans & Woodside
With additional support from:
Capital Blue Cross
Fredericksburg Family Eyecare
Final Focus Productions
Hamilton Musser PC
St. Jude Tree Farm
ABC Fuel Oil, Conrad Siegel Actuaries, Gibbel Insurance Agency, Inc., Highmark, Inc., Nationwide, PR Works, Sun Motor Cars,
Posted by Chris Fitz (10/22/2014 2:24:21 PM | link)
Thursday, October 09, 2014
With Silver Celebration around the Corner, Construction on Hummel Street Townhouses Begins
While the finishing touches are being applied to the Silver Celebration on October 14th, construction crews have begun digging the footers for the Hummel Street Townhouses. To kick off the project, executives from PinnacleHealth System, BHA's partner in the project, showed up. Three news outlets came out as well to cover the good news and talk to our staff and residents, including this poignant testimony from ABC News 27.
Posted by Chris Fitz (10/9/2014 12:35:01 PM | link)
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Help Us Celebrate 25 Years of Building Hope
Be Part of History! Help us Celebrate 25 Years of Building Hope at BHA!
Join us on October 14, 2014, from 5:30-8pm at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey (directions) as BHA hosts its Silver Celebration. We'll celebrate 25 years of helping homeless women and children find stability and hope on Hummel Street. Register Now!
We are pleased to welcome Valerie Pritchett from ABC Channel 27 as our celebrity emcee for this special occasion. The evening features a heavy hors d'oeuvres reception and festive raising of funds through live and silent auctions. We'll celebrate by hearing testimonies of lives changed through the programs of Brethren Housing Association.
Doors open at 5:30pm. First silent auction tables close at 6:30pm. Concludes with a dessert social.
For More Details Or To Register:
For an exclusive preview of auction items
Posted by Chris Fitz (9/17/2014 11:03:00 AM | link)
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Three Women Graduate from Transitions
Hawlie, Mackendra and Seydie each completed the Transitions program and have moved into stable housing in the Harrisburg area. All are employed full-time and two have maintained their current jobs (or been promoted) for more than a year! Congrats to you all...we will miss the smiles and tears of you and your children here on Hummel Street!
You can hear Mack talk about her journey of recovering stability and hope along with her Bagwashi mentor Yolanda (below) at BHA's Silver Celebration on October 14!.
Posted by Chris Fitz (9/4/2014 10:55:28 AM | link)
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Across the Board: BHA Welcomes New Talent, Praises Achievements of Parting Directors
Please join us in welcoming this year’s new board members: Steven Faus of Elizabethtown, owner of the Hess Agency, Frances Roggenbaum of Mechanicsburg, partner at Saul Ewing LLP and Deborah Saline of Camp Hill, principal at PRworks. These new directors bring not only a wealth of talent and experience to BHA, but also a passion for its mission.
Several of BHA’s long-time board members are stepping back to let other members step forward, and we recognize these steadfast servants for their remarkable acheivements:
- Paul Wessell, JD, 24 years, outgoing treasurer, and still on the Hummel Street Townhouses planning team;
- Alex Groff, 18 years, outgoing property committee chair who managed many renovations, most recently, the
- David Weaver-Zercher, PhD, 14 years, outgoing secretary and strategic planning chair;
- Robert Wintsch, 4 years, outgoing human resources
- Julia Tilley, MSW, 2 years, outgoing program committee member and long-time program consultant.
Below, Alex Groff at the Diener House Ribbon Cutting, a project he personally managed for more than a year until its completion in September 2013.
Posted by Steve Schwartz (8/20/2014 11:07:33 AM | link)
Friday, August 01, 2014
Seven Mothers Complete Faith & Finances Course
SEVEN MOTHERS IN BHA’s Transitions program finished the Faith & Finances course, the second year the program has run. A faith-friendly, values-based curriculum through the Chalmer’s Center based in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The classes required the women to assess their financial priorities in terms of their core values with later units on budgeting, basic banking and financial management. Numerous moms developed new saving and spending habits as a result.
In the photo above, Natoya, a resident of the Diener House, receives her certificate from her case manager Marilyn Bellesfield.
For the second year, Faith & Finances was run thanks to sponsorship from Metro Bank, other supporter donations and volunteer assistance from local churches and businesses. Thank you all for making this program possible!
(Note this article corrects an error in our Fall 2014 Newsletter which incorrectly stated "3" graduates.)
Posted by Chris Fitz (8/1/2014 10:41:25 AM | link)
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Give Two This Summer
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Summer is a busy vacation season and this is affecting the availability of our usual youth program volunteers. We're short-handed on Monday evenings for our Light House program for children and youth.
Could you give a night or two in August and September? Monday evenings 5:45 to 8:15pm. Bring a friend!
Contact Heather Cotignola-Pickens, Youth Program Coordinator, at BHA at 233-6016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Steve Schwartz (7/31/2014 10:42:45 AM | link)
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Welcome Cassy and Abbey!
We are excited to welcome two new staff members to BHA!
Cassy Bates (above, right) joined us as a Case Manager in May after graduating from Messiah College with her B.S. in Social Work. Cassy will be working with current families in our Transitions program as well as serving as our Next Steps program case manager, in which she will provide connection and support to families who have graduated from Transitions or our other housing programs.
Abbey King (above, left) is taking on the new role of our full-time Office Administrator in which she will manage day-to-day functions in the BHA office. In other words she makes sure everything is running smoothly and helps us all do our jobs better. Abbey is not new to BHA as she was the volunteer Event Coordinator for our Spring Thaw Bike Tour the past two years.
Welcome Cassy and Abbey!
Posted by Steve Schwartz (7/31/2014 10:09:16 AM | link)
Monday, July 21, 2014
Join Us for BHA Day at the Ballpark!
HARRISBURG SENATORS vs. AKRON RUBBERDUCKS
Sunday, August 3, 2014
GAME TIME: 2PM GATES OPEN: 12:30PM
Tickets are sold for $11. For each ticket sold, $4 is donated to Brethren Housing Association. Tell your family, friends, and neighbors to come out for a day of fun while supporting a great cause!
To Purchase tickets, follow these simple instructions:
- Go to the Senators website and select the August 3, 2014 Game
- Enter the special offer code: BHA and click the Submit button
- Click on the blue plus sign next to Box seat option
- Select the quantity of tickets you want for the Brethren Housing Association fundraiser
- Reserve your seats & continue to Check Out
- Create an Account
- Purchase tickets & Print tickets at HOME (If you do not print the tickets from home, they will be available for pick-up at Will Call)
- Come out and enjoy some baseball!!!
DOWNLOADABLE FLYER (345k, PDF)
RAIN POLICY: Check the Senator's website, www.senatorsbaseball.com, for updated information on the status of our game. If an official game (4 ½ innings) is not played then you can exchange your ticket or ticket stub for an equal or lesser value seat to any remaining regular season home game (subject to availability). Rain out tickets must be exchanged at the senators box office and early redemption is highly recommended.
PARKING: Parking on city island is $3 per car on game days.
If you have questions, please contact Emily Winslow with the Harrisburg Senators 717.231.4444 x 109 or email@example.com
Posted by Steve Schwartz (7/21/2014 3:05:06 PM | link)
Monday, June 23, 2014
One Woman's Ride to Higher Goals - and How You Can Help
Dear friend in the community,
Meet Bethe (pronounced “Beth-A”). She’s a mother in our Transitions program, and she's got an amazing story from BHA's Spring Thaw Bike Tour this year. And thanks to supporters like you, the Transitions Program has been getting moms like her on their feet for 25 years.
I’m writing to share Bethe’s story, its inspiration and its challenges. And I’m writing to invite you to contribute and make it possible for more moms like Bethe to find hope here as we emerge from the 20/20 Vision Campaign into an exciting 25th year of service.
Bethe rode a bicycle in our recent Spring Thaw Bike Tour on Mother’s Day Weekend. No big deal, right? Wrong! Weighing less than a hundred pounds and without any training, Bethe got on a donated bike and towed her three year-old daughter ten miles!
THE START: If you'd meet Bethe now, you’d agree she’s the epitome of energetic. It’s sometimes hard to believe she would end up without a home for her and her two children.
Bethe’s life drastically changed several years ago. Her mother, with whom Bethe and her daughter were living, died of illness. Bethe was in an abusive relationship that had worsened, recovering from substance addiction, pregnant with a second child and without a system of supportive relationships. Losing her mother’s home, she bounced between temporary shelters and living in her run-down SUV.
When Bethe applied to BHA’s Transitions program, it felt like her last option. She had begun to face the unthinkable possibility of giving up her children. But it was her turn at BHA. “I screamed so loud when Ms. Crystal shared the news, I think I scared the neighborhood.”
MILE 2.5: “I didn’t know how far I’d go,” Bethe recalls. “I haven’t pedaled a bike in ten years.”
At four-foot-eleven inches, Bethe is not exactly built like a powerhouse. But when her bike and trailer rig were set up, she wasn’t intimidated in the least. “Let’s get this going,” summed up her attitude. And going it did. Albeit slow. Really slow. The first part of the rail trail route is uphill, so pulling a 75 pound trailer promises an extra gravitational challenge. Still after 2.5 miles, she wanted to push on.
Bethe settled into BHA quietly last summer. She shares soberly about the shell she inhabited when she arrived. “After all I went through, it was hard for me to even talk about,” she says. “The shame I had, living with my kids in our truck. Scraping for gas money. It took me a while to adjust, to trust people here—the other participants, the staff. I wasn’t always outgoing like I am now.”
This kind of transition is typical for women and children in our program. After coping with abuse, addiction, trauma and broken relationships, it takes time to rebuild trust with anyone. Each woman and family needs time, care and trust to heal. It’s never a straight-forward journey.
MILE 5: “Exuberant,” is how Bethe described cycling the first five miles with her daughter in the trailer, the mark where they would turn back for home. “I couldn’t have gotten that far by myself. First I was with my friend Jasmine (another Transitions participant). Then with Mr. Steve (Schwartz, Executive Director). Then with Ms. Heather (Cotignola-Pickens, Youth Mentoring Coordinator) and others. And as we rode and talked, I realized, I can do this.”
October was a turning point for Bethe in her recovery at BHA. She was starting to get seriously depressed. The anniversary of her mother’s death was coming up. She was working on goals but not seeing tangible progress. Along with the other families, she was invited on a field trip to a local farm and pumpkin patch. She declined.
“My friends here at BHA and the staff, they almost literally dragged me out of the house, dressed my kids, and carried me on that field trip,” Bethe recounts. “But we all went. Did silly things. Played in the hay. You know, had fun!” Her eyes get soft as she collects herself.
“Things changed after that,” Bethe says. “I started asking for help, seeking a counselor for myself, taking the Jobs for Life class seriously, attending BHA’s Annual Celebration, getting interviews for some great jobs.” But there were more challenges to come.
MILE 7.5: Now on the homestretch, Bethe was getting tired. Without any cycling training, her legs were aching miserably. Her daughter in the trailer, while entertained, was also getting impatient. But she was surrounded by encouraging voices, friends on their bikes, urging her on. “The pain was so much in my head, I realized,” Bethe recounts. “But I sure was tired too.”
After getting a solid job with benefits this fall, Bethe thought she had it made. Soon she’d be out of debt, find a permanent place to live and live happily ever after. But she wasn’t clear of her challenges. Without childcare backup, she maxed out her personal time off in the first month. When a police officer showed up at her workplace to force payment or arrest on overdue parking tickets, her employer terminated her position immediately. It sent her backsliding into frustration and depression. The hope she’d cultivated was utterly deflated.
MILE 10 – THE FINISH
Bethe rode the last two-and-a-half mile homestretch at top speed. As Steve Schwartz remembers, “my son and I had to stop and check his bike near the end. But then I never caught up with her.” Pulling her daughter on a now-slightly-downhill path, Bethe roared home accompanied by the cheers of others at the Spring Thaw finish line. It was a victory she would savor for hours, days, even weeks afterward.
Unlike the Spring Thaw Bike Tour, Bethe is not finished with the challenges life’s handed her now. Money is real tight. Yesterday, she came in with a debt collection crisis.
“I know I can get that next job, but the GED is really my next big hurdle,” Bethe explains in an upbeat tone, rolling her eyes on mention of the math test. “I also need to have a plan B for childcare. The kids are still young.”
The real race isn’t over, but Bethe now has the confidence and energy to keep riding it.
How can you help Bethe and so many other mothers at BHA excel on their journey?
I invite you to make a donation to support Bethe and Brethren Housing Association today.
When BHA completed the 20/20 Vision Campaign with support from you and many others, it had also expanded its housing to serve more families like Bethe’s and break the cycle of poverty. Now you have an opportunity to support this expansion with a gift to BHA’s Annual Campaign.
Your gift helps us pay for the program support for Bethe and even more mothers coming into our program. And it supports the neighborhood revitalization that sprang out of the strategic 20/20 Vision that you and so many others helped to make a reality:
Will you join this exciting transformation of lives and neighborhood? Will you make a donation?
- Completing acquisition of 203 Hummel Street and now owning the entire southeast block of Hummel and Mulberry streets;
- Acquiring and clearing six blighted properties in front of our offices on Hummel Street, making way for a truly new neighborhood project, thanks to leadership at PinnacleHealth Systems.
- Building a program for long-term volunteers to live and serve in Harrisburg at the Hummel House, working with the families at BHA and in the neighborhood.
Bethe continues to make progress toward her goals. Like so many mothers doing hard work at Brethren Housing Association, she needs our support to push through the uphill sections.
I am filled with gratitude when I think of people like you whose financial support and volunteering has made it possible for Bethe to tackle the Spring Thaw Bike Tour and more so, the challenges in her life. An amazing 30% of all BHA’s financial support comes from extraordinary people like you.
Now, through that collective support, we can see Bethe and dozens of other moms through to the finish line of yet another year’s challenges.
I hope you’ll join me in making a donation to Brethren Housing Association today. If we all pull together, we can help Bethe and others like her succeed on the next big 10 miles of their journey.
Make a donation today. And thank you.
Director of Development
P.S. I want to extend a special invitation to make a sustaining contribution to Brethren Housing Association by giving monthly through your bank or credit card. You can join scores of supporters whose regular gifts of $25, $50, $100, even $250, add up each month. Bethe’s continuous effort, and Paul’s letter to Corinth reminds us, our sustained contributions pay off at the finish line.
Click here to make a sustaining contribution.
Posted by Chris Fitz (6/23/2014 12:40:51 PM | link)
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Block Secured with 203 Hummel Street Acquisition
Exciting news! We've acquired 203 Hummel Street, the final property targeted through our 20/20 Vision Campaign. We can now complete the restoration of our city block at the corner of Mulberry and Hummel streets.
A VISION FULFILLED
Key Strategic Property Acquired to Complete Block
The 20/20 Vision was conceived in 2009 to help BHA serve more homeless families than ever before. A centerpiece of that vision was acquiring the final property not owned by BHA on the northwest block of Hummel and Mulberry streets.
After years of prayer, amid stalling and wrangling from the prior owner, a team of board members working with experienced community leaders unlocked the key to acquiring this property. We owe special thanks to Wendell Hoover of Remax Realty Associates for navigating the challenging negotiation and acquisition process on our behalf. A generous BHA supporter stepped in to cover the cost of purchase and transfer. Brethren Housing Association is now the proud owner not just of this property but of all the adjoining properties and yards on its block.
WHAT IT MEANS
The property at 203 Hummel Street had long been a sore subject on the block. Drug selling and other disruptive and dangerous illegal activity continued to recur there, despite changes of tenants. The property also suffered increasing disrepair. But most challenging to BHA's Vision was the inability to combine the back yard for families in BHA's programs, preventing access to the yard and laundry facility from three of its seven properties.
Family safety. Building integrity. Participant access. With the purchase, families at BHA are already seeing some of these benefits.
The acquisition comes at a time when other major renovation and building projects are underway, so we don't expect to use or renovate the new property immediately. But stay tuned as we consider a phased approach to developing this acquisition, starting with expansion of the combined back yard.
The acquisition owes much to your prayerful support over the past five years, as we know many churches specifically prayed for its release. It also owes much to the team of board members and volunteers who eventually lassoed it into the BHA corral:
John Sider, member of the Board
THANK YOU ALL!
Brent Smith, member of the Board
Josh Stroup, chair of the Board
Paul Wessell, former Board member
Twila Glenn, former Board member
Heather Kelly, 20/20 Vision Campaign co-chair
Wendell Hoover, Remax Realty Associates
John Coles, Rhoads and Sinon LLP
BHA Supporter to remain anonymous
Posted by Steve Schwartz (6/19/2014 2:23:31 PM | link)
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
BHA's Service House Welcoming Applicants
What do I want to do with my life?
Most people, young and old, have asked these questions. But young people, especially toward the end of high school or college, are asking these questions more intensely. The Hummel House, a year-long community-based service program at BHA is building a unique place to ask and find answers to these soul-searching questions.
How is God calling me to use my gifts?
Last year, Chris Epp, BHA’s new volunteer coordinator, came on to fulfill a vision conceived in BHA’s 20/20 Vision Campaign, a volunteer service program to serve BHA and other local ministries with three elements:
Epp is now rising to the challenge of inviting the first volunteers into The Hummel House. And he likes to challenge the ways we express our Christian beliefs.
- Substantial urban service for at least one year
- Intentional community, in the house and neighborhood
- Guided discipleship training and mentoring opportunities
"How do we live a more integrated faith? In the church, we're often presented with a dichotomy between serving our neighbors and loving God. The Hummel House brings these two traditions together. It's a wholeness that I see young people longing for."
Epp has seen a lot of young people. And he knows the Allison Hill neighborhood. He was the Director of the Discipleship Center of Eastern Mennonite Missions just two blocks from BHA until it closed two years ago. In his role with BHA now, he's reaching out directly to youth and young adults who might consider serving for a year in Harrisburg. It’s not always an easy sell.
"People have a lot of fears about the city," he concedes. "A lot of this work is about getting beyond fear, beyond the excuses...stepping out of comfort zones we've created, even in the church."
That's how a volunteer's training begins at the Hummel House. Noticing what's uncomfortable and working with it. It's stretching, challenging. And with the support of others in the House, it becomes intensely enriching. Epp sees the Hummel House appealing to people's sense of adventure, rising to the challenge of profoundly living out the Gospel.
"I've heard 'we have no business going overseas to do missions when we haven't figured out how to reach people in our backyard' and I agree," says Epp. "That's exactly the kind of self-reflection and applied learning that a young person will get out of their year of service here."
Might you—or someone you know—be ready for such an adventure?
Learn more on The Hummel House webpage or contact Chris Epp at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 233-6016.
Posted by Chris Fitz (5/28/2014 9:06:57 AM | link)
Friday, April 18, 2014
Eugenia Smith: A Remembrance
In the wake of her sudden passing this month, I've been thinking a lot about Harrisburg City Council Member Eugenia Smith. I've been thinking about what she meant the city of Harrisburg as well as what she meant to the homeless families we've served over the years at Brethren Housing Association on Hummel Street in Allison Hill.
I was blessed to know Eugenia on a first name basis. It would be an overstatement to say we were close friends, but I had a number of interactions with her over the years. As I reflected on the times our paths crossed it struck me that they provide a snapshot into the impact she made in Harrisburg, and the void her early passing will leave in our city.
At our Diener House ribbon cutting, September 10, 2013, Eugenia Smith thanks the gathered project donors and volunteers for restoring this building that she called home in the 1970's. (photo: Michael Todaro)
Snapshot #1: The BHA Office
For many years, Eugenia was the social worker for homeless students in the Harrisburg School District. Please understand the immensity of this task. The Harrisburg School District typically sees 300-500 students who face homelessness at some point each school year. It was an overwhelming task. Yet, whenever we had a need, Eugenia was there as an advocate and friend to these students and their families.
A typical scenario was this: a student had changed addresses one or more times during the year. This is typical: a family went from sleeping in a friends living room, to a homeless shelter, to our program. Some conscientious school principal or office worker would look at the student's recently changed address and say "you shouldn't be in our elementary school, you should be in the elementary school across town."
What they didn't know was that the law states that a child in homelessness should be able to stay at the same school for the duration of the year. This is key for some sort of stability in the child's life during significant personal upheaval. When our staff was unable to convince the school, we would call Eugenia. It would be resolved. Many, many times Eugenia came to our office on a task to assist or advocate for a child who was living in our program and attending the city school district. She was an angel and an advocate for these children.
Snapshot #2: Weed and Seed In Allison Hill
There used to be a program in Harrisburg called Weed and Seed, focused on "weeding" out negative elements in the community (crime and blight, for example), and "seeding" healthy new community initiatives. Community leaders like Eugenia and I would attend monthly meetings where we would discuss the efforts underway and learn how we could be involved. I clearly remember the day Eugenia stood up and passionately spoke about growing up at 203 1/2 Hummel Street and what a great neighborhood it was in the 1970's. She challenged us to rehab houses, mentor our youth, and help Allison Hill regain this level of community health.
What struck me was that our organization had purchased 203 1/2 Hummel Street a few years prior. It had fallen into complete disrepair, became a crack house and upon our purchase was merely a shell of its former self. I went up to Eugenia after the meeting and said "How, after all these year, did I not know you lived on our block, in a building we now own?!?"
Snapshot #3: Breakfast at the Club Diner
Based on the above story, when we launched a campaign to expand our programs including a complete rehabilitation of 203 1/2 Hummel Street, I wanted to ask Eugenia to serve on our campaign steering committee. We agreed to meet for breakfast at the Club Diner on 17th Street near Derry Street. You haven't completely experienced the charm of Allison Hill until you've eaten breakfast at the Club Diner.
So I asked her and of course she said yes and was enthusiastic about our plans. But that is not what I remember about breakfast. During breakfast we were interrupted about 4 to 5 times. If I recall correctly, about 2 or 3 times people stopped by our table to say "hey" to Miss Eugenia and check on how her family was doing or so she could check on theirs.
What I remember even more clearly are the two times she said "I'll be right back!" and jumped up to run outside and talk to someone walking down the street. She returned the first time saying "That was one of my students, and I needed to check how he's doing and make sure he's continuing on a good path. I told him to call me if he needs anything." The second time she wanted to check on an ailing family member of the person walking by.
Eugenia had a heart of gold and her actions matched her heart. What an inspiration this breakfast was to me.
Snapshot #4: The Diener House
So we rallied donations and volunteers and completely rehabbed 203 1/2 Hummel Street. We named the building the Diener House in honor of Ray Diener, a friend of BHA who died tragically in 2007 while responding to a call for help.
Eugenia Smith speaks at the groundbreaking for our Diener House rehabilitation project, May 1, 2011. (photo: Barb Myers)
Eugenia came to our groundbreaking evening in May 2011, toured the blighted building, and spoke to our supporters of its former glory. She was thrilled by our goal to completely rehab the building and offered her support in anyway necessary. Then, in September 2013, she returned for our ribbon cutting ceremony. Before we opened the doors to most guests, we walked through the building with Eugenia.
One of the great satisfactions of this project was hearing her "oohs" and "aahs" as she entered each room, and as she reminisced about what this building meant to her and how beautiful it was now. It made a special day even more special, and I'm so thankful I could share this experience with her.
Snapshot #5: City Council
The last time I talked to Eugenia was at a city council meeting in December 2013. In the fall of 2013 we were planning for our next redevelopment project: tearing down 6 blighted buildings and replacing them with 5 brand new townhouses. This project will be transformative for our city block.
After our plans were approved at that city council meeting--no doubt with her endorsement of our organization playing a role--I shook her hand and thanked her for her on-going affirmation of our work as well as her personal encouragement. I also thanked her for all she does for the community.
I wish I could take her out for one last breakfast at the Club Diner to share these memories and how they illustrate to me what she meant to our community. But alas, it would probably be hard to convey all of these sentiments over just one breakfast, especially with all the interruptions and people for her to be checking on.
Love you Eugenia. Miss you Eugenia. Thanks for being an inspiration and role model to so many people, including me.
Grace and peace to you and your loved ones,
Brethren Housing Association
City Councilwoman Eugenia Smith shares her delight at the rehabbed building at 203 1/2 Hummel Street--her former home--with project sponsors and volunteers.
(photo: Lydia Epp)
Posted by Steve Schwartz (4/18/2014 9:37:04 AM | link)
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Breaking Ground on a New Vision for Hummel Street
We were thrilled to break ground on Thursday, January 23 on a project that will transform a blighted corner into a neighborhood centerpiece! In partnership with PinnacleHealth System and local contractors, BHA will be demolishing 6 blighted buildings at the corner of Hummel and Haehnlen Streets (below left) and replacing them with 5 townhouses (below right).
The townhouse development was designed by Benedict Dubbs, Principal at Murray Associates. PinnacleHealth System is handling site demolition and providing project management expertise. They are also enlisting their network of contractors to help with donated labor and materials to make this "extreme block makeover" a reality. Reynolds Construction and Pyramid Construction Services are sharing subcontractor recruitment and management leading up the construction phase of the project.
About seventy-five friends of BHA, including PinnacleHealth representatives, local government leaders, and contractors, joined us to celebrate our groundbreaking and hear how to get involved over a delicious lunch provided by PinnacleHealth. Watch for updates as the project gets underway.
Michael Young, CEO of PinnacleHealth, opened the groundbreaking ceremonies at 222 Hummel Street, the future home of the Hummel Street Townhouses
Cyndi Tolsma, BHA Board Member and PinnacleHealth Board Member, outlines how the blighted buildings to her left and right will be replaced by 5 beautiful new townhouses
Roy Christ, Director of Building and Housing Development for the City of Harrisburg, shares words of affirmation for the project, both on behalf of the city and personally
Long-time friend of BHA, Patty Kim, shares her enthusiasm for BHA's work helping homeless women out of poverty as well as revitalization of the Allison Hill Neighborhood
Harrisburg City Council President Wanda Williams brings words of encouragement and affirmation on behalf of City Council
From Left: Paul Wessel (BHA Board Treasurer), Cyndi Tolsma (BHA and PinnacleHealth Board Member), Patty Kim (BHA Supporter and PA State Representative), Phil Guarneschelli (COO of PinnacleHealth), Wanda Williams (Harrisburg City Council President), Roy Christ (City of Harrisburg Director of Building and Housing Development), Josh Stroup (BHA Board President), Michael Young (PinnacleHealth CEO), Steve Schwartz (BHA Executive Director) and George Grode (PinnacleHealth Board Chair) break ground on the Hummel Street Townhouses
BHA Executive Director Steve Schwartz leads a lunch program and project overview for about seventy friends of BHA and PinnacleHealth, including many community leaders, following the groundbreaking ceremony
Mackendra, BHA Program Participant shares her story of coming to BHA in a time of great need and finding friendship, support and stability
PinnacleHealth COO Phil Guarneschelli shares why he is so excited about the Hummel Street Townhouses partnership with BHA and how he's challenging others to get involved
Dave Angle, CEO of Reynolds Construction, invites contractors to contribute donations of labor and materials to make the Hummel Street Townhouses a reality
Benedict Dubbs, Principal with Murray Associates and Architect of the Hummel Street Townhouses project, shares his vision for tying in current elements of the community architecture with a forward looking design
Architectural drawing of the finished townhouse community at the corner of Hummel and Haehnlen Streets, designed by Benedict Dubbs, Principal, Murray Associates
PA State Representative Patty Kim does constituent outreach with her new friend Zion
Posted by Steve Schwartz (1/29/2014 4:24:22 PM | link)
Monday, January 27, 2014
MLK Day of Service 2014: A Day On!
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service is always an inspiring day in Allison Hill. This year the community came together to clean streets, rehab buildings, paint rain collecting barrels, remove bulk trash, inspire youth (and be inspired by youth) through a poetry workshop and fellowship together over lunch.
At BHA, we joined with our partners at YWCA of Greater Harrisburg, Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren, Tri-County Community Action, Brethren Community Ministries, Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area and the Harrisburg Rain Barrel Coalition to welcome about 250 volunteers for our fourth and largest ever Allison Hill MLK Day of Service. Thanks everyone for making this a great day!
MLK Day: We are the Dream.
State Senator Rob Teplitz kicked off the day with words of welcome in the morning, just before he made his way to a volunteer site with his family
Our lunch meal and program at First Church of the Brethren was packed as Ron Tilley, Director of Brethren Community Ministries looks on
Local poet, writer and community leader Nathaniel Gadsden challenged us to live out the legacy of Dr. King
This group of youth wrote collective poetry through a workshop facilitated by Nathaniel Gadsden, then presented their poetry over lunch
Hummel Street outside First Church of the Brethren served as a central site for dealing with bulk trash removal and demolition project waste
This group of Messiah College students helped tackle some ambitious demolition work as part of a building rehab on Hummel Street
Eager volunteers helped beautify the neighborhood
Posted by Chris Fitz (1/27/2014 10:00:18 PM | link)
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