Our History

History of Bethany House Services at a Glance

1983: Bethany House of Hospitality is founded by Mary Grafe, SC; Dee Sizler, SC; and Barb Poppe to offer hospitality to homeless women seeking shelter.

1984: Bethany House incorporates as a nonprofit organization with a board of trustees, code of regulations, and articles of incorporation. Sr. Mary Stanton, RSM, moves into a Hollister Street house owned by the Church of Our Savior and begins board, fund and resource development.

1985: Mary Stanton, RSM, is named Director of Bethany House. A case management plan of social service delivery is implemented.

1987: Bethany House outgrows the original location in the Episcopal Church rectory on Hollister Street in Mt. Auburn. Volunteers renovate the Church Women United facility at 1836 Fairmount Avenue to accommodate 25 homeless women and children.

1989:  The name is changed to Bethany House Services to reflect the daily focus and operation of social services and the formal outreach, advocacy and transitional housing programs.

1990: A more sophisticated administration structure is developed for the staff and board, with an executive director and program directors.

1991: The Child/Parent Program is added. BHS creates partnerships and expands to operate programs in six locations, with easy access to city bus lines.

1992: BHS purchases its first property at 1841 Fairmount Avenue, with the help of the Seton Enablement Fund. Messer Construction Company plays a key volunteer role in the building renovation, and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation funds the computer system.

1993: In January, 1841 Fairmount Avenue becomes the Administrative/Outreach Center, housing the Finance, Development, and Outreach offices, as well as the Resource center and Nurse Aide Training offices. In the summer of 1993, groundbreaking for Bethany Homes, the first permanent housing program for the agency, occurs.

1994: Bethany Homes opens on Yearling Court, offering 24 units of affordable housing, a family picnic grove, playground and parking lot areas. A community building is planned for construction in 1995.

1995: Bethany Homes creates a Tenant Council and initiates a children’s program on site.

  • Bethany is given a parcel of land to develop housing for first-time home ownership.
  • Bethany appoints a Social Services Director to coordinate and supervise all agency social work and program staff.
  • Bethany hosts its first Children’s Carnival.
  • Construction begins for the Community Building at Bethany Homes.

1996: BHS Board of Trustees votes to require random drug testing for Bethany Homes tenants in order to promote a drug-free residential environment.

  • The Community Building of Bethany Homes is completed.
  • In partnership with the Greater Cincinnati Mortgage Counseling Services, a home-ownership program is begun for Bethany Homes tenants.

1997: Bethany Woods is developed on the land donated to BHS by the Betz family.

  • In July, five Bethany Homes tenants move into their own homes.
  • Bethany creates and implements an in-house medical counseling program for program participants.
  • Bethany Place, “A Connecting Place for Women” opens as Bethany’s newest program providing transitional housing and supportive services for single women without children.

1998: As a result of welfare reform, the needs of the population being served by BHS change, and BHS responds by changing its social service delivery system to accommodate the widespread challenges facing the families.

1999: Bethany House Services celebrates its 15th anniversary. The Bethany House Shelter is renovated through an agency volunteer program.

2000: BHS initiates the Family Shelter Partnership Program in collaboration with the Hamilton County Department of Human Services and five other family shelters in Cincinnati.

2001: BHS creates a Post Shelter Support Program and adds a Volunteer Program to Bethany Homes.

2002: BHS Family Shelter Partnership Program thrives as a model of collaboration.

  • Bethany Homes playground and grounds get a facelift on “Make a Difference Day.”
  • BHS gets a website: bethanyhouseservices.org.

2003: BHS purchases a Fairmount Avenue house to be used for agency Case Management Services, Development/Volunteer and Transitions offices. BHS named “best agency for volunteering” in Cincinnati by Inspire.

2004: BHS kicks off its 20th Anniversary year with the theme: “Heart Hope Home” at the annual meeting/celebration.

2005: The new BHS Social Services Center opens after the purchase and renovation of a home next to the Administration Building and across the street from the shelter.

2006: The Vehicle Campaign raises funds to purchase a new van for food and supply pickups and delivery of items for fundraising events and general cargo use.

2009: BHS celebrates 25 years of providing a home for the homeless. Bethany House Services jumps on the social media bandwagon by establishing a Facebook page.

2010: BHS is awarded a Rapid Re-housing grant, which is a new Transitional Housing Program, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

2011: The BHS Board launches the Comprehensive Campaign for endowment, capital and support of programs.

2012: The Family Shelter Partnership Program starts a new project called CAP, which is a central access point to reach staff who will provide appropriate placement in one of the six family shelters in our city.

2013: Sr. Mary Stanton retires as executive director after 30 years of dedicated service to the organization. In September, Susan Schiller joins BHS as its first new executive director in its 30-year history.

2014: BHS begins discussions with Mercy Health-St. John to assume operations of their Housing Program.

2015: BHS experiences the biggest programmatic changes in its 31 years. On January 1, 2015, after 7 months of negotiations, BHS takes over Mercy Health-St. John’s three emergency shelters, increasing in size from 30 beds to 130 beds. On July 1, 2015, BHS begins a new Shelter Diversion program. In October, Bethany House, in collaboration with other social service agencies, publishes the community-wide plan, Solutions for Family Homelessness.

2016: As a result of tripling our bed size, Bethany House moves out of the three scattered sites and into three newly renovated apartment buildings closer to the Fairmount hub. The consolidation effort to house all programs and shelters under one roof continues. Post-Shelter Support expands to ensure families have a full transition to self-sufficiency and avoid a relapse into homelessness. A Child-Parent Coordinator is added to address the needs of the children.

2017: Bethany House continues to respond to the community’s need and begins a Permanent Supportive Housing program for people with complex needs. Mental Health Services are expanded on-site with collaborations with The Children’s Home and with Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health. Work continues with Solutions for Family Homelessness. Trauma-Informed Care training begins across the agency.