Strength in communityHow Bethany Community Ministries is building up the people of Homewood-Brushton
Amanda Taylor wears many hats as the executive director of Bethany Community Ministries, a faith-based human services nonprofit. The organization stepped up its services during COVID, adding health and wellness screenings for seniors, COVID vaccination clinics and summer camp and out-of-school time programs for children. Bethany Community Ministries is also one of the nearly 200 organizations taking part int his year’s ONEDAY Critical Needs online giving event taking place Aug. 9 at PittsburghGives.org. She spoke with Foundation about BCM’s mission, how demand for food assistance skyrocketed during the pandemic, and why she is eager to find folks to crochet to benefit the people they serve.
Amanda, tell us about Bethany Community Ministries and what you do?
We transform lives through service. We exist to strengthen and encourage the Homewood-Brushton community by providing food services, youth ministry, education, health services as tangible expressions of love. We primarily serve the Homewood-Brushton community, particularly children and seniors in these neighborhoods.
|Children benefit from summer camps and out-of-school time programs hosted at Bethany Community Ministries.||Volunteers with the Shawl Project handmake blankets, scarves and other items to provide warmth and comfort to those who may be struggling.|
What services are you seeing as most in-demand in your community?
We are definitely providing more meals and toiletries and other personal care items as well as educational support for children, with school being less consistent over the past few years. Families need affordable care for their children while they are working and that’s been a real challenge. We provide a summer youth program for free for seven weeks, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. In camp, we try to make sure that the children are taken care of physically, mentally and spiritually. We make sure they stay active throughout the summer. We also provide them with space to unpack everything that’s been going on at home and school through small-group mental health circles. We also have teachers on staff to help students academically so that they do not experience slide and are strong and ready to go back to school in the fall.
What needs are you seeing among the senior community?
Food insecurity is a top need as is access to health services. One of the things that Bethany Community Ministries has done is pivot to become a leader in hosting vaccination clinics in the community. We go to senior and congregate housing and make sure that each building has its own vaccination clinic. We have licensed nurses come in to administer COVID vaccinations and boosters. We also provide health screenings for glucose and blood pressure checks. The medical staff can make immediate referrals if necessary to get seniors in to see a doctor. Because we are a people-of-color led organization and our staff are POC, elders are comfortable coming in to receive the vaccination and get medical care. That’s warmed them up to ask for other things like food and toiletries. We take these items to senior apartments weekly every Friday.
Tell us about the Shawl Project.
We need people who are skilled in the fiber arts. Through the Shawl Project, we have wonderful people who crochet and make blankets, hats and scarves, and have even sewn masks for us. We want to make sure that veterans or people having a hard time at home or in the hospital or have a new baby know about this service. We can offer handmade items to them as gifts. We’re looking for people to crochet these items for us so that we can give them away.
How will #ONEDAY matter?
The Critical Needs Alert is so important for us because it ensures that we can continue to meet all of these needs. And the needs are growing. People are looking for access to food, and for safe places for children to go. It helps us so much to know that we’ll be able to continue to providing these services because we have the supplies that we need.