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 Board Secretary 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 17th 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 provide 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.