Bethesda News

A Double Portion Blessing

A Double Portion Blessing

Sometimes it is overwhelming how a theme just emerges in our lives. Well, it certainly appears that is the case in the life of this House of Mercy called Bethesda. Over the past few years, God has opened up the
doors to a “double portion blessing.” Let me share the evidence:

— At our Women’s Mission located at 20th and Forster Street, we demolished two old school buildings that have faithfully served thousands of women for nearly four decades. In addition, we have constructed a new 18,400 sf, 4-story shelter essentially doubling our capacity by expanding from 25 beds in the old
shelter to 51 beds in the new shelter in the next year. The women in the old building have moved into the new space, and the demolition of the previous buildings has paved the way for a beautiful outdoor space
with projected completion this fall. Capital costs for this $4M facility have been fully funded with private

— At our Community Center, two buildings exist to deliver impactful programs serving children, teens,
and families. The former printing company was converted into a teen center that includes a gym/activity
center for athletics/banquets/large events, a computer lab, and outdoor space. Our Phase I Campaign is
complete with all $2M privately funded!

Community Center Phase II Campaign, seeking to raise another $2M, will enable us to demolish the
old fire station, City approved, and build a new 10,400 sf structure to serve elementary and middle school

students much more efficiently and expansively. We envision that the numbers of kids and adults served
annually from these two buildings will at least double in the next 3-5 years, from 75 to 150+.

Yes, double the facilities, double the guests, and double the stories of hurting and struggling
women, kids, and their families experiencing life recovery at these two ministries!

From God’s enduring word, this verse captures so poignantly what has emerged:

Isaiah 61:7 “Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will
rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy
will be yours.” (NIV)

Women’s Shelter

During construction, the women at our old shelter peered out through the old,
porous, discolored windows and witnessed this massive edifice rising out of the ground. They could
probably write a book on the stages of construction of a $4M building and the anticipation they felt as
they stared at those front doors into which they eagerly waited to enter.

The words of a gospel song capture what these women experienced as the long-awaited shelter was built
right before their eyes:

Long ago in days of old, stood a man of God we’re told,
As he talked to Elijah that day;
His request he did repeat, standing at Elijah’s feet,
“‘A double portion, I can hear him say.
As Elijah stood that day, to Elisha he did say,
‘Ask me what I shall do unto thee,’
And Elisha then replied, walking at Elijah’s side,
‘A double portion, let it fall on me'”

Elisha’s reply, and the cries of every Board Member and staff person at Bethesda, is for every woman in
our shelter to hear resounding through the walls:

Give me, Lord, a double portion, pour Thy Spirit on me,
Thru eyes of faith Thy wondrous works I can see,
But I need Thy helping hand, in this troubled, sinful land,
Give me, Lord, a double portion from Thee.
God offers each guest, and each one of us, the greatest exchange program in the history of the universe –
exchange of our guilt and shame with his double portion, the Holy Spirit and His blessing. We will
exchange our disgrace with the inheritance that His Holy Spirit personally guarantees.
He will exchange our sin for His forgiveness, our hate for His love, our pain for His power, our hurts for
His healing, and our hopelessness with His eternal hope.

Through your generous gifts and prayers, God has opened doors for the exchange of two old school
buildings with a beautiful new refuge for hurting women and their children. After seven years of
extensive planning, the dream has now become a reality – all our praise to God!!

A grand and glorious celebration is being planned
for later this fall.
To view the progress of this new shelter, please go
mission-renewal. If you wish to further contribute
to the Women’s Mission, we would appreciate your
support. If you are interested in serving personally,
we will be hiring a new position in the fall to
support the expanded ministry.

Shelley Brooks, director of the Women’s Shelter noted, “by doubling our space to accommodate 51
women and their children, one of our new programs will provide short-term housing for 8-12 months, and
the other is a new Young Adult Program for homeless single women ages 18-24. We have been blessed

watching a vision become a reality, and we look forward to serving those that will enter our new double
doors. We are so blessed, and we so thankful for His blessings.”
Jacquetta Potts, a Women’s Mission guest, shared her reflections on the new building, saying, “It is
inspiring that Bethesda Mission will give a variety of people more chances to overcome their situations.
We are history makers and get to experience something brand new. It is giving me a second chance at
continuing school and giving me the opportunity to focus on one goal at a time.”

Community Center

What has taken place at 15th and Herr for three decades in the northern section of
Allison Hill has been a remarkable legacy as thousands of children, teens, and families have been
impacted with the love of Jesus in tangible ways. God has doubled our capacity to build a legacy in the
past few years, particularly with the opening of a new facility. As a result, there are now abundant
opportunities for many more children and adults to receive inspiration, guidance, and real hope.
Our ministry’s vision and message drive our desire to impact
each child and adult who walks through the front doors of the
Community Center. Interestingly, God used the old fire
station and a movie entitled “Fireproof” to inspire our
vision for the Community Center. In this film, the power of
God in the lives of ordinary people touches not only the characters, but the thousands who saw this uplifting film.
This theme remains true for many kids and families who have
experienced that same power in their lives at our old firehouse.
Psalm 132:15 comes to mind which captures so well our
experience here at 15th and Herr. Food for a journey, one in which God would provide abundantly for our
support to serve those coming through these doors.

God’s amazing provision in Fireproofing Lives – “a provision that is savory, strengthening, satisfying,
and nourishing when the Lord blesses it; as he does to those who
hunger and thirst after it, and feed upon it by faith. We live upon His
word, clothed by His charity, armed by His power; His provision is
bountiful; so how can we be anything but blessed?” (Treasury of

The story from the book of Daniel gives another wonderful vision –
three youths in the fiery furnace, who, because of their faith in God,
were shielded from the flames that were meant to destroy them! An
angel of the Lord stood beside the three and prevented the fire from harming them. Likewise, we seek
to prevent these children and teens from entering our shelters as adults. This story offers a powerful
parallel for what we desire to do at the Community Center: to build a foundation of faith in the young
people and adults God has entrusted to us. We build up this foundation so that when they face trials, the
flames will not derail their lives, and they will have someone standing beside them through it all.
Building loving, mentoring, and discipling at-risk youth is our Community Center’s mission. The teens
coming to 15th and Herr, along with their families, are being FIREPROOFED to cope with and absorb
challenges they face, to find hope and success, all from a foundation of experiencing the love of God
expressed through the mentoring and nurturing of dedicated, gifted adults.

Community Center Phase II
— In Phase II we will demolish the current Youth Center, and build a new 10,400 sq ft, 2-story structure,
including an authentic replication of existing front façade. In addition, we envision a multi-purpose space
serving elementary-age children and adults and a brand-new expanded kitchen serving the entire
— Attempting to rehab the old fire station would be cost-prohibitive, approximately $700,000 higher than
demolishing the old and building new (Harrisburg City approved the plan in June 2019).
— Although Shamrock Fire Station is not on the national or state registry of historical places, it possesses
local historical significance. A pocket park will be constructed with a commemorative marker to capture
the history of this fire station, including honoring a Shamrock firefighter who died after battling a fire at
the Harrisburg Pipe Bending Plant in 1918.

Community Center Cost

• $1,814,128 (Phase I renovation) – COMPLETE
• $2,400,000 (Phase II) – demolish existing fire station/build new 2 story facility (with 2nd story shell to
be completed by construction volunteers)
• $1,040,037 (total received to date for Phase II from foundations, individuals, businesses and churches)
•  $1,359,963
• $250,000 Stabler Foundation Matching Grant approved June 2021
• Seeking $1M from New Market Tax Credits (Banks Receive Tax Credits for investment in low-income communities); if this source is obtained, a Public Campaign will be launched this fall to
raise the remaining funds to complete Phase II.

Andre Cooper, Director of the Community Center, excitedly shared his vision for Phase II of the
construction, saying, “the impact will be incredible!! I think about Isaiah 58:12 –
“Some of you will rebuild the ancient ruins; you will restore the foundations laid long ago;
you will be called the repairer of broken walls, the restorer of streets where people live.”
With rebuilding this ‘ancient building’, we will be able to restore the foundation of Christ in many lives.
With repairing these ‘broken walls’ we can restore the streets of this community.  We will be able to
embrace the full vision of what we want to accomplish as a Community Center.”

Friends and donors to this House of Mercy called Bethesda, through your generosity, you have doubled
your impact. You have given us the chance to offer many more opportunities for hurting men, women,
and kids to experience life recovery and find a hope grounded in the reality of a loving God and a
relationship with Jesus Christ.


Scott Dunwoody
Executive Director

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