There were pancake breakfasts, concerts, a tour of homes, a pie auction for politicians and an Empty Bowl supper where handmade pottery and jewelry were sold.
The myriad of events over 18-months were part of the effort to raise $1.3 million to build a new Bethlehem House, a 7,200 square-foot facility that will house 35 people and will have a kitchen and dining room to serve a hot nightly meal to 40 people in addition to the residents.
The handicap-accessible building will feature two rooms that house up to eight people each in need of emergency shelter, like evictions or automobile breakdowns, It will be the only emergency shelter in Faulkner, Conway and Perry Counties.
Judy Lively, executive director, said “The need for a new shelter and the desire to build it have long been a dream of the Bethlehem House board,“Johnny and Stacia Adams were asked to lead the fundraising committee,” Lively said.
The Adamses were present at the Dec. 5 announcement that the goal had been reached. A Josh Wilson concert at Woodlawn Heights Baptist Church was the setting,
Johnny Adams said the board was challenged by two matching grants, from the J.E and L.E. Mabee Fondation of Tulsa and the Windgate Charitable Foundation. Conway Corp. led the giving with a $250,000 contribution.
The Dec. 5 concert raised $10,000 with gifts from Dan Fife of Awakening Events, Woodland Heights and Josh Wilson, whose performance was free of charge.
In an earlier interview, Lively said “the community with its businesses, churches and residents have been the ones who are building the new shelter for the homeless.
“For the 10 years I have been involved with the shelter (seven of those years serving as Executive Director), we have been talking about building this new facility. Several years ago, a serious look was taken at building a new shelter, but the time was not right.
“Then three years ago, Bethlehem House hired Hueston Consulting to do a feasibility study. It came back cautiously favorable.
”After much prayer, the Board decided to proceed with a Fund Raising Campaign for the building. Johnny and Stacia Adams put together a strong group that was instrumental in getting us to where we are today.”
More than 64 percent of the funds were donated directly by the community.
The plans are in place and the land has been purchased. The new property can be seen from the lawn of the current shelter and will face the railroad tracks on Parkway.
An inside play area for children will be available in the shelter. A multi-purpose room with computers for job searches and studies will be included.
Lively says, “I keep coming back to Psalm 127:1, ‘Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.’ I am quite certain God is building this new Bethlehem House.”
The dozers should be rolling in soon, Lively said. Nabholz Construction of Conway estimates construction time as 8-10 months.
Lively said: “This time next year, we’ll be celebrating Christmas in the new facility. What an incredible celebration that will be!”
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at email@example.com and 505-1234. Lesley Turner contributed to this story.)