History of Bethany, Inc.

 

The name of the Bethany, Inc. organization was birthed when two of the founding board
members, Carol Bullard-Bates and Molly Carr, thought of the town of Bethany in Judea, which
was the home of Jesus’ good friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They perceived this home as
Jesus’ home away from home, as well as the place where Lazarus was resurrected from the
dead. They envisioned Bethany to be a home where Jesus would be present and where
homeless families would be resurrected from their traumas and homelessness.


Bethany, Inc. is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to helping homeless
families in Washington, DC break the devastating cycle of poverty and life traumas. Founded in
1993 by present Vice President, Carol Bullard-Bates, Ph.D., Molly Carr, R.N, and Deborah
Wimberly, M.A., Bethany’s initial mission was to provide affordable housing and comprehensive
support services to homeless families with children recovering from addiction. The first step in
fulfilling our mission was to purchase a building. Prior to 1994, the Anacostia community had
become ridden with crime, drugs, and grief from life traumas with many dilapidated buildings.
Many families were affected and displaced in the area. The building we chose to buy was an 8-
unit apartment building at 1715 V St. SE in the Anacostia area of DC. The building was
abandoned because of misuse and a fire. Bethany’s vision was to restore and transform the
building in to a space of safety, love and nurture for homeless families.


Bethany is managed by a volunteer board of directors comprised of dedicated individuals who
govern and contribute their expertise to the organization. In 1994, the Board launched an
overall program design and fundraising plan. In December, 1994 with seed monies from local
foundations, community sponsors, area religious communities and individual donors, Bethany
bought the building. The following year the roof was replaced to prevent further damage to the
dilapidated building. In November 1997, Bethany raised sufficient funds and paid the building
mortgage in full, becoming the sole owners of the building.


Over the following seven years of dedicated fundraising activity, Bethany successfully raised the
nearly 1.2 million renovation budget from a variety of sources, including those listed above, but
also grant awards from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and
the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). The renovation of the
building, now named Good Hope House, formally commenced in September 2002 and Bethany
celebrated its opening in June 2004.


Bethany decided on the name of Good Hope House for their building because of it’s connection
to the near by Good Hope Road and because of the powerful meaning it connoted for our
residents and the transformation we envisioned for their lives. Bethany, Inc. is located in the
Good Hope area of Anacostia which was the first permanent modern settlement of size in
southeast Washington. The Natcotchtank Native Americans were the first settlers to inhabit the
area now known as Good Hope, living and fishing along the nearby Anacostia river. Captain

John Smith was the first European to visit the region in 1612 C.E., naming the river the
“Nacotchtank.” War and disease decimated the Nacotchtank, and during the last 25 years of
the 17 th century the tribe ceased to exist as a functional unit and its few remaining members
merged with other local Piscataway Indian tribes.

Through community outreach, Bethany forged strong partnerships with established service
providers throughout the metropolitan area. Thus, in addition to the services provided in the
Bethany program initially, such as addiction treatment and counseling, life skills training classes,
tutoring and mentoring, participants were able to receive referral and follow up assistance from
their case manager in making use of services available through partner agencies from whom
Bethany secured formal commitments of support. These included day care, recreational and
educational programs for children, GED training, literacy and computer skills training, job
training and placement assistance, supplemental groceries, free clothing, and assistance in
seeking and maintaining permanent housing upon completion of Bethany’s two- year
transitional program.


In 2016, Washington DC changed its priorities to focus on permanent housing for homeless
persons and families. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) through the
Community Partnership for the Prevention of Homelessness did not renew funding for
Bethany’s transitional housing program. Bethany’s leadership therefore considered alternatives
and decided to become a Rapid Rehousing provider. This involved a commitment to providing
permanent housing to families who initially needed financial support for renting their own
apartments. Through subsidies for the tenants from the DC Housing Authority and the DC
Department of Human Services, Bethany had families sign their own leases and families became
Bethany’s tenants. Bethany continues to provide referrals to mental health counseling and
other agencies that can support tenants’ goals, such as improving their educational and
vocational success and opportunities.