Generous Community: Inspired by the new Bethany

A few weeks ago, I toured the new Bethany Crisis Shelter in Morgan Park. My wife, Sara, and I also went to their celebration night at Clyde Iron Works.

If you’re not aware, Bethany is operated by Lutheran Social Services and has been serving young people in crisis in our community for decades. LSS, through the leadership of Kathryn Tiede, a Lutheran pastor and associate vice president of philanthropy, raised $3.3 million to construct a building and expand Bethany’s work.

I love the inspiring story of how the new Bethany came to be. A local couple with huge hearts visited Bethany 11 years ago. The original building had aged, becoming outdated and challenging. This couple saw the need and volunteered to lead the charge to help LSS raise funds for significant repairs.

They brought together a small group of their friends as potential donors to walk through the old building with Kathryn. One of the folks on the tour asked, “So you’re telling me that you want me to give money to repair this place?”

Kathryn said, “Yes, sir, we do!”

He replied, “I won’t give you a penny to fix this place. But if you want to tear it down and build a brand new building, then I’m all in!”

A few years later, the kids are now moved into the stunning new building. The old structure is about to be torn down and turned into a garden and nature play area.

Bethany has significantly expanded their vision as well. They will continue serving children in crisis, as always. But they are expanding programming and offerings to support and serve the kids’ families and the connected community. The work will expand and continue. This is generous community writ large!

At the Community Foundation, we’re pleased to have played a small role in the new Bethany. Our Community Opportunity Fund and its generous donors provided support to create the Staff Flex Room. It means a ton to me that they chose the staff room to mention the Community Foundation.

In my judicial career, I sent kids to and interacted with Bethany often. Duncan Gregory, who has worked there forever, is one of the finest, most caring and gifted people I’ve met. Shelter Director Dawn Shykes has no quit in her. Their team is dedicated and gifted. They are great people doing great work!