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History, Mission, Vision
A caring family for Philadelphia’s homeless.
Bethesda Project began in 1979 when Reverend Domenic Rossi and members of his prayer group from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania, reached out to a group of women experiencing homelessness in Center City, Philadelphia. Committed to caring for the women as they would members of their own families, the group rented an apartment at 12th and Sansom Streets. The women had a new home there, and the prayer group provided companionship to help them cope with mental illness.
Three years later, Bethesda Project bought a house at 11th and Spruce Streets with the support of the prayer group, Daylesford Abbey, foundations and others. The house became a permanent home for formerly homeless women. With homelessness on the rise in Philadelphia, the all-volunteer group saw a need for more houses like the one on Spruce Street. Bethesda Project became a registered non-profit, and we hired our first paid staff and began to expand our programming.
We began serving single men as well as women, and purchased new residences to provide homes for them. We created partnerships with other non-profits and local churches to best care for homeless and formerly homeless adults. Because each individual experiencing homelessness has a unique story and unique challenges, our locations are tailored to meet different sets of needs. From drop-in centers and shelters for men and women on the streets to permanent supportive and independent housing residences, our locations create a “continuum of care.” We meet men and women where they are, providing case management to help them achieve their highest personal potential.
Now, more than 30 years since our beginning, Bethesda Project remains committed to our initial calling — to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none. Bethesda Project serves more than 2,000 homeless and formerly homeless men and women each year at 15 sites throughout Philadephia. Learn more about our programs here.
From the Hebrew for “house of loving kindness,” Bethesda is the name of the pool of water where Jesus of Nazareth healed a man who had been ill for 38 years who had no one to help him.
Seeking God's guidance and believing that we are all members of one family, the mission of Bethesda Project is to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none.
Bethesda Project embraces the core values of social work: Service, Social Justice, Dignity and Worth of the Person, Importance of Human Relationships, Integrity, Competence.
The Bethesda logo was created by Robert McGovern, a Narberth, PA artist who was famous for his wood carvings and sculptures. The intention of the design was to capture a sense of ‘home’ which lay at the core of Bethesda’s mission ‘to be family with those who have none’. For Mr. McGovern the character 亼 represented a roof and ceiling, providing safe protection for the table 口 where the family gathered for its meals.
The Chinese character on which the logo is based has the root meaning ’to unite, join, link together or gather’, and seems especially appropriate to reflect Bethesda’s work of reuniting marginalized members of our community to their caring family.