Originally published in the August 2016 issue of Berks County Living
Bethany Children’s Home has been committed to helping at-risk youth gain the tools and experience they need to lead successful lives since 1863. Despite personal struggles, each of the nearly 80 residents are committed to their education, and Bethany provides all the support they need to meet their academic goals.
A Second Chance at a Bright Future
Bethany Children’s Home serves youth between the ages of 12 and 21 who have been exposed to some degree of trauma, from abandonment and abuse to truancy or exposure to crime, violence or poverty. The home provides individualized therapeutic programs consisting of counseling and support groups, music and art therapy, spiritual and moral development, recreational programs, and a health clinic. “Bethany’s ultimate goal is to assist the youth with reunification in the community,” said Director of Development Meggan Kerber. The programs focus on developing life and independent living skills with an emphasis on ensuring each youth has an opportunity to achieve their academic goals.
Bethany 101: Courses and Care
Bethany youth either attend the Conrad Weiser School District or are placed in an alternative education program to focus on their academics. Coordinators from within the district are assigned to each student to provide them with support and assistance while they are in school. Bethany aims to provide their youth with the same experiences any other student would have, so they are encouraged to participate in extracurricular activities through the school district, including playing sports, an instrument, or joining clubs. “We have a good relationship with the school district,” said Kerber. “We are appreciative of the partnership that we have in order to provide our kids with the education that they really need and deserve to have, and may not have had the opportunity before in their lives.” Those opportunities extend beyond earning a diploma. Bethany also provides assistance with continuing education, whether it is applying to a college or university, trade school, or seeking employment.
Education Support and Enrichment
Bethany’s students don’t have to go far to find the academic assistance and enrichment they need. The on-campus Donald and LaRae Haas Learning Center provides them with access to a resource library, computer lab, and tutoring resources. Tutors are available several days a week to provide additional help with homework and research, SAT prep, or to provide any enrichment the students are interested in. Bethany also offers youth the opportunities to explore a variety of music and art on campus. They provide private instrument and vocal lessons, music composition, music production and practice sessions for those in the school orchestra or band, and even have a small choir. A resident artist also teaches pottery, fused glass, and other mixed media, such a painting and crafting. Funding is often limited for these programs in public schools, so Bethany provides exposure in an educational and therapeutic way.
No matter their needs, Bethany provides local youth with the therapy and education they need to overcome their pasts in order to be successful in their community. To learn more visit BethanyHome.org.
Did You Know?
Finding Sanctuary Bethany became Pennsylvania’s first DWP Sanctuary Certified Agency in 2010. The program is aimed at creating a culture that is optimized to help people recovering from trauma.
Drink Local Bethany also has a dairy farm with over 60 cows, and sells fresh spring water to DS Waters. Proceeds support the mission to provide brighter futures for local children.