Bethany House is a Catholic Worker House of Hospitality in the city of Rochester, NY. It first opened its doors to homeless women and their children in 1977.
Bethany House continues to serve the needs of women and children in our city, county, and state; women have even welcomed those seeking safe housing from other areas of the country. Women come for a variety of reasons; some have been victims of domestic violence, some have been evicted from their home, some are trying to recover from alcohol and/or drug addiction, some are being released from incarceration, some have been hospitalized for illness of mind and/or body. All come from experiences that radically deny their worth. Bethany’s primary focus is to serve the needs of women with or without children. Those served are not limited by race, religion or economic background. The door is always open to those in need.
Along with operating an emergency shelter, Bethany House also operates an emergency food cupboard for women and children. Women in need of assistance are welcome to come to the cupboard any weekday, once a month. Bethany House also has an infant and toddler room with car seats, cribs, clothing etc. at no cost. It is available to the children in the shelter and also for children of the neighborhood two mornings a week. Bethany House also serves as a drop-in center for women and children during daytime hours Monday through Friday. Women are welcome to drop by for support, encouragement, advocacy, friendship, and comfort as the need arises in their daily life.
The mission of Bethany House has always been, and will continue to be, to provide food, shelter, clothing, support, advocacy, and hospitality for women with or without children. This commitment is core to the mission of the house- to serve homeless women and children who have often have been invisible and forgotten in our society.
Bethany House was founded on the principles of the Catholic Worker Movement, a lay movement started in the 1930’s by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. As such, it is not part of an organized body, rather, an autonomous group believing in the idea of providing hospitality, shelter, and support for the poor and homeless at our door.
The principles of the Catholic Worker Movement include:
- Personalism—each person who comes to the house is treated as an individual made in the image and likeness of God. Our guests are not a “number” or a “case”; they are God’s children and are treated with dignity and respect, as Jesus would.
- Pacifism—we believe conflicts and disputes should be resolved by peaceful means and opinions of all should be respected.
- Voluntary Poverty—we believe it is important to live as closely to the lifestyle of those we serve. Therefore, staff of the house does not receive a salary. Room, board, health insurance and a small stipend are given depending on need.
- Clarification of Thought—we try to be aware and understand issues of importance ranging from world news to local concerns. Our special interest is in information affecting women and children.