“Unbelievable growth” best describes 2015. Thanks to the foundation laid by Sr. Mary Stanton over three decades, Bethany House was well prepared to take on the expansion across all of our services. In the past we sheltered 1 of 10 homeless families in our community; today we shelter 5 of 10 homeless families. Our housing program grew by 35 percent, and we added a Shelter Diversion program.
The challenges were many — four shelter locations rather than one, and all four buildings were built in the late 1800s. Just imagine the facility issues! We confirmed early on that the single site shelter with 24 hour supervision and supports like we have at the Fairmount shelter is the best way to provide shelter services for families. The year ended with our families relocated to newer, safer and healthier apartment buildings just two miles from Fairmount.
Our expansion of services called us to revisit our Mission, Vision and Core Values to ensure they not only reflect all of our services but also capture the essence of our work, the goals of our families and the guiding principles for our interaction with others. We also found ourselves in need of a brand refresh and new marketing materials to support our growth. The international branding company LPK provided their expertise at no charge as part of their annual “Design Blitz.”
2015 also marked the publication of Solutions for Family Homelessness, the community-wide plan to make family homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring. It was an honor to serve on the Steering Committee, and Bethany staff contributed on every phase of the project. At the same time our Board and staff were writing a new strategic plan to guide Bethany House’s future.
I thank all of you for your support of our families and I invite you to join us in the important work that lies ahead. Cincinnati’s increase in family homelessness reinforces the urgency of our efforts. The faces of the 610 homeless children we sheltered in 2015 show us how critical our work is. Together we can lift families out of homelessness.
Susan S. Schiller, Executive Director