From our home to yours: February

I have had a lifelong fascination with Mandala artwork.  A Mandala is a circular depiction used to focus attention on the center, on the object or the symbol that is most important. Mandala art is found in almost every culture and religious tradition.  I believe that the Mandala, in its highest form, can be more than visual art, it can be an idea. The idea that we all need to put aside our small differences, and focus on the things in the center of our lives that are most important.  Bethany House embodies this idea- it is a place where people can put aside their differences, and come together to work for the greater good.

Bethany House is a place where people from all walks of life come together to successfully move homeless women, and women with children, from uncertainty to sustainability, two generations at a time. In these trying times, while people find so much to disagree about, Bethany House provides a space in which people of all ages, from all sides of the political spectrum, and from every religious tradition, can come together to support homeless women and children in their time of critical need.

At Bethany House, our board members, staff, volunteers and supporters come from varying backgrounds, and as such, have many differences of opinion.  But there is one thing we all agree on: Bethany House is a place where we can come together, and focus on what is most important–the wellbeing of the homeless women and children we provide for. It is through our collective work, and the relationships we have built with the women and children we serve, that we have found the place where we are all truly fulfilled.

Why do we do it?  In the words of Jean Vanier, “By including the excluded, we are all made whole.“

So, we ask that you join our extended family at Bethany House, and work alongside us for the greater good. By helping the homeless women, and women with children, that come to us in their time of greatest need, you too will find joy, meaning and gratification.

Community Partner Profile

All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Baldwin, NY

 We are indebted to our many thoughtful, generous and action-oriented community partners who support the work of Bethany House. This month we are featuring a long-term supporter, located around the corner from our Baldwin, NY residence, All Saints’ Episcopal Church. The parishioners of All Saints have been providing food, school supplies and other needed items to the women and children residing in all of the Bethany House emergency homes for many years. Some of our guests attend services at All Saints.

       Most recently, in the month of August, the church held a food and school supplies drive to benefit both Bethany House and another community organization. Recently, the Reverend Maxine Barnett and parishioner Terri Mangum, pictured in the photos below, toured Bethany South with Doug O’Dell, Executive Director, and Penny Shea, Residential Director of Bethany South. We learned that both of these dynamic women are former educators, and that Terri is the former principal of an elementary school in Uniondale.

       Under their leadership, All Saints staff and volunteers have been involved in conversations with Bethany House over the past two months to explore how our two organizations can work together most effectively to address the needs of the women and children at Bethany House. Mother Maxine and Terri will be working with the parishioners to bring mentoring and tutoring services for both adults and children to Bethany South this fall. We look forward to further expanding our relationship with Mother Maxine, Terri, and the parishioners at All Saints’ Episcopal Church. We are so grateful for their continued support.

Reverend Maxine Barnett and Terri Magnum with Penny Shea and Doug O’Dell

The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity

A message from John Galante, Board Chair

February is Black History Month, but Black History Month’s story began in 1915, half a century after the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. September of that same year, the Harvard-trained historian Carter G. Woodson and the prominent minister Jesse E. Moorland founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH), an organization dedicated to researching and promoting achievements by Black Americans and other peoples of African descent. The group sponsored a national Negro History week in 1926, choosing the second week of February to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass. The event inspired schools and communities nationwide to organize local celebrations, establish history clubs, and host performances and lectures. By the late 1960s, thanks in part to the Civil Rights movement and a growing awareness of Black identity, Negro History Week had evolved into Black History Month on many college campuses. In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially recognized Black History Month, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

This year, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) presented its theme for Black History Month as The Black Family: Representation, Identity, and Diversity.

The Black family has been a topic of study in many disciplines—history, literature, the visual arts, and film studies, sociology, anthropology, and social policy. Its representation, identity, and diversity have been reverenced, stereotyped, and vilified from the days of slavery to our own time.

As we continue to explore Black History throughout the African Diaspora, it’s crucial to understand and acknowledge the Black Family’s role in all its forms in establishing the deep cultural roots that have carried on for thousands of years, and hundreds of generations.  

The Black family continues to be the community’s strength. We’ve seen families rally to support one another during the traumatic times within the Black community, including during the senseless racial violence against Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and countless others over the past year. The Black Family’s identity shows that the definition of what family means has always been expansive. The family is where strength, wisdom, love, support, and energy exist. The Black family experienced so much in 2020, and it helped to shine a light on the intersectionality and impact a strong family can have on everyone during tumultuous and unforgettable times.  Throughout the 400+ years of oppression and racial violence, the Black Family was, and remains, a unifying symbol for many within the community. 

As we continue to grow as a country in our understanding of each other, it’s vital for each of us, regardless of race, to understand the narratives that we have heard over the years that have negatively portrayed the Black Family. We need to continue to explore and expand our perceptions to help us a create a more accurate depiction of the Black Family, and what it means not only to the members within the African Diaspora, but also to the broader world that has truly benefited from its greatness. Although each of our learning journeys are different, and some may take longer than others, it is important that we recognize the true meaning of Black History, and how it has shaped the world we live in today. February is not only a month where we recognize the years of slavery and mistreatment of Black people, but it is the reminder that Black people, Black history, Black families, and Black culture are worth celebrating today and every day.

Bethany House has appointed nine new members to its Board of Directors

Bethany House has appointed nine new members to its Board of Directors.

With varied backgrounds and expertise in business, finance, law and communications, the new board will focus on creating new programs and supporting Bethany House’s vision and mission.

“Bethany House is fortunate to have the support of these new board members,” said Douglas O’Dell, Executive Director, Bethany House. “We will continue to create pathways to success for the women and children at Bethany House, while being fully focused on maintaining accountability.”

The new board members are:

Bert Accomandois a retired successful businessman with extensive travel industry experience on a local, national and international level;Jeanne Bryd Adamsis the director of student services at Year Up, New York; Bonnie Ryan Arrante,a CPA, is currently a partner in a finance and management consulting firm; Ellen Furuya retired from PepsiCo in 2015 where she was Senior Director of Global Strategy and Insights for PepsiCo; Lisa King is a media and communications professional who currently serves as the Vice President of MediaImpact;Kia Mooreresided in Bethany House with her family for a year when she was a teenager.  She currently works as an Assistant Disabilities Rights Coordinator for the New York City Fire department; Maryanne Pedersenis an attorney who has significant commercial litigation and creditors rights experience; Christine Vetranois the CFO of Organic Krush which has been an active supporter of Bethany House; Angela Zimmerman is the Director of Development & Special Programs at Molloy College, overseeing the development, corporate and alumni relations and the scholarship functions of the College.