Human society as a just, hospitable and inclusive community rooted in and affirming the inherent dignity of every person.
Bethesda House is an interfaith ministry to the homeless, disabled and economically disadvantaged citizens of Schenectady County, building a just, hospitable and inclusive community one person at a time by affirming the dignity and addressing the needs of each guest entering this “House of Mercy”.
We Live Out Our Mission By:
- Providing a safety net of social services and advocacy for the homeless, disabled and economically disadvantaged;
- Addressing the needs of the whole person by encouraging self-respect, personal responsibility and the discovery and exercise of one’s gifts for the good of self and community;
- Educating the Schenectady community concerning the needs of vulnerable citizens and creating opportunities for the community to unite in celebrating diversity and serving the disadvantaged;
- Collaborating with other social service agencies to enhance creativity, synergy and efficiency, to provide ease of access to and a continuum of services while avoiding duplication of services.
Who are our Guest?
Anyone who enters! However, Bethesda House’s role in the continuum of care provided by multiple local agencies is to reach out and care for the chronically homeless, disabled adults in our community. Many services are geared towards the unique needs of this group and focus on housing as the first step in the process rather than the end result. This ” Housing-First” approach is a proven best practice for successfully assisting chronically homeless persons to leave the streets and regain their physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. Families! Bethesda House assists many families and children through its Food Pantry, Community Meal and Clothing Room programs.
Bethesda House opened in March 1992 as a simple Drop-In Center for the homeless. Open just four hours each day, the safe haven provided respite from the streets, a cup of coffee and access to a telephone. In 1997 Board leadership decided it was time to be proactive, to seek solutions to homelessness.
Bethesda House of Schenectady, Inc., an interfaith ministry, has evolved into a dynamic lead agency in the quest to end homelessness. Bethesda House was one of the first agencies nationwide to open a Housing-First permanent supportive housing program, The Lighthouse, in 2002. Housing-First is now considered the best practice housing model by the federal government, JAMA and many in the business community because it is effective from both a compassionate programmatic point of view, and, from an economic one.
Bethesda House remains in the forefront of innovative programming combining both Day Shelter Programs and permanent supportive housing. With the fifteen Liberty Apartments, to the ten units at The Lighthouse, Bethesda House has successfully reduced chronic homelessness in Schenectady County!
Bethesda House has a strong history of partnerships and collaborations. The partnerships go beyond simple linkage agreements to formal relationships that include joint grant applications, shared resources, and staff from multiple agencies functioning as a team.
Cooperation, collaboration, shared resources, ideas, leadership, and vision are necessary to combat the systemic challenges of poverty and homelessness.
Bethesda is an Aramaic word meaning “House of Mercy”. In the ancient world people traveled far and wide to seek healing and wholeness in the pool at Bethesda. The pool, fed by an underground spring, was thought to have healing powers for the many gathered on the five large stone porches surrounding the waters. Jesus visited the pool at Bethesda during his ministry (John 5: 1-8). Today Bethesda House continues to offer hope, healing, and wholeness in a broken world.