A Solid Foundation

 

Written by Lindsay Whelchel in the April 2012 Issue

bethelLynda Powell was struggling. The single mother’s difficulties ranged from the basics of food and clothing to the logistics of getting to and from work or getting through semester after semester of college. And to make things worse, she couldn’t find many resources for support.


“Was it gas in the car or food on the table - these are real struggles,” Powell says. At her lowest point, Powell pledged that if she could just make it through, she would dedicate her life to helping others in similar situations. And now, through founding the Bethel Foundation, a nonprofit which gained 501(c)(3) status in 2004, she is.


The organization, which served 9,549 women and children last year, offers a variety of opportunities and help for single mothers in the metro, one-third of which are from Edmond, Powell says. “I think it’s important for a mother to know that there’s someone that’s been through this, understands the struggles and knows how to get out of it,” Powell explains. “So, it’s to help guide them and be there for them.”


These are mothers like Katherine, whose last name is being withheld for safety reasons. It took Katherine, a single mother of six, almost two years to get out of an abusive relationship. At first she sought the services of the foundation from clothing to food, in sporadic times of need. Then after moving, her daughters had no beds. The Bethel Foundation provided bunk beds to Katherine as well as other services. “For me, it kept me from falling so far behind,” she said.  “If it weren’t for them stepping in, in the places that they did, it would’ve taken me a lot longer to get where I am.”


Household items such as this are provided by donations to the organization, Powell explains. She adds that they host a variety of programs that give the mothers and their children opportunities they may not have otherwise. “You never know when that mother walks through the door that this could be her last hope that she’s seeking, because when you don’t have food, you can’t afford gas. You’re trying, but you keep getting behind; we’re there to help propel you to keep going with the resources we have to offer,” Powell says.


Those resources include life skills classes, clothing, food, a community center, a scholarship program called the Grace Scholarship and a home ownership program, in addition to services directly for the children, such as a Christmas gift program and a host of free spring break and summer camps.


Katherine explains the impact of these services on her and her children. “It was really amazing, it really touched my heart. It’s just something that when you are in those situations where you can’t help yourself, that they can step in and be that foundation for you and help you,” she says.


Katherine’s experiences with the foundation spurred her to become a volunteer and she says that there are a lot of ways others can help. “Really there is a big need for volunteers when it comes to our kids’ camps that they do, to be that mentor,” she says. Her children will be attending the camps this year and she emphasizes what taking on a mentor role can mean. “To have that experience with a child, they may not have anyone else that could give them those type of experiences or be that role model to them or that word of encouragement, or someone to look up to, because they may not have that around them.”


Powell echoes the importance of volunteers. “I think people can get involved and see that these needs are real, so they can get in and help; maybe you can give one or two hours of your time…everybody can do something,” she says. In addition to monetary donations that would fund day-to-day operations, as well as help add a pavilion, add on to the community center, and the hope for a shelter for abused women and children, the foundation is always in need of material items such as clothing, appliances and furniture as well as volunteers to facilitate their programs. Powell explains that the center is located on five acres so even help with mowing is essential.


Katherine adds that the program comes full circle when her children not only get to participate in the programs but then get involved volunteering as they have done. “I think it’s great because they get to see that there are people out there who care about you and you need to care about others as well,” she said.


The organization will be hosting a free spring conference for mothers on April 28. It will offer door prizes, free child care and they will be naming a single mom of the year.


For more information on Bethel Foundation’s programs and services or how you can help, visit
www.bethelfoundationusa.com.

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