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News and Musings:

Saturday, April 11, 2015
Poetry Book Published to Support BHA!
Cover of The Lost Paradise by Janice KeilholtzJanice Keilholtz Landis was a supporter of BHA. Sadly, she passed away in early 2014 after a battle with cancer.

After her passing, her husband Wesley and their grown daughters Leann and Jennifer were cleaning out a closet when they came across a box. Wesley knew of the box, for Janice had told him "this is my box, and you don't look in it." He never did, and his daughters never even knew the box existed.

But after her passing, they opened the box. Inside they found scrapbooks. One was filled with poetry, with the first poem written when Janice was in 6th grade. Wesley and his daughters never knew Janice had written poetry. Then, also in the box, Wesley found a newspaper clipping of an article about how to get your poetry published. Janice never did, but now Wesley knew he had to make his wife's dream come true.

So Wesley found a publisher, and with his daughters help, compiled a book of Janice's poetry alongside beautiful nature pictures. The book is called The Lost Paradise. What a beautiful symbol of love and devotion! I got choked up when Wesley first told me the story!

Janice loved BHA, so Wesley wants all proceeds from the sale of the book to go to BHA. He is donating the books to BHA to sell for $20 each, with all $20 going to fund our work with homeless single moms.

Would you like a copy? It makes a beautiful coffee table piece, or a gift with Mother's Day just around the corner.

Perhaps Wesley's story of honoring his wife's dream is something you would like to give as a gift to a special loved one or loved ones...and what better gift than giving the women you love this book AND telling them that their gift is giving new hope to homeless single moms this Mother's Day.

Click Here to order The Lost Paradise

Thank you, Wesley and Leann and Jennifer, for your example and your generosity!

Grace and peace,
Steve Schwartz,
Executive Director

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (4/11/2015 8:25:53 AM | link)

Friday, March 27, 2015
Celebrate Motherhood

Welcome to Mamas Diner graphic, with four ways to support BHA Link to BHA Golf Tournament Site link to Spring Thaw Bike Tour Site Link to Spring Thaw Trail Walk site Link to make a donation in honor or memory of a special woman

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (3/27/2015 3:18:14 AM | link)

Friday, March 20, 2015
A Very Special Visit
Adalyn and Steve Schwartz high five after Adalyn delivered her carload of toiletries and cleaning products

There were a lot of great moments around BHA in March, but few sweeter than this. Adalyn, niece of our Executive Director Steve Schwartz, asked her family and friends to collect toiletries and household supplies for the families at BHA instead of buying her birthday presents. Adalyn is five. And a sweetheart. And incredibly generous.

Thank you for brightening our month, Adalyn!

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (3/20/2015 5:40:47 PM | link)

Friday, January 30, 2015
Celebrate! 212 Hummel Street Ribbon Cutting
212 Hummel Street Ribbon Cutting as seen on WHTM Channel 27 News

We are excited to announce the opening of 212 Hummel Street, our newest apartment building for homeless families. We saved this historic building from foreclosure and possible neglect, beautifully renovating it into three new apartment units. Now, three homeless families will have a home on Hummel Street (two of the apartments are already filled!) and are able to work with our staff and volunteers on life-changing goals surrounding employment, education, parenting, budgeting and housing.

Special thanks to:

  • All of our volunteers who worked so hard to rehabilitate this building
  • The following funders: The Josiah and Bessie Kline Foundation, The Lawrence and Julia Hoverter Foundation, and the Greater Harrisburg Realtors Foundation
  • Dennis Saylor, our long-time Property Manager for his leadership on the project
  • And WHTM for featuring our ribbon cutting on the evening news! (watch video below)
And special thanks to all of our other supporters who make this work possible year after year!

BHA Program Director Crystal Baxter shares about the impact these new apartments will have, helping homeless families building a brighter future with the support of BHA staff and volunteers
BHA Program Director Crystal Baxter shares about the impact these new apartments will have, helping homeless families building a brighter future with the support of BHA staff and volunteers

BHAs long-time Property Manager Dennis Saylor, who managed the renovation of 212 Hummel Street, cuts the ribbon to officially open the beautifully restored building
BHA's long-time Property Manager Dennis Saylor, who managed the renovation of 212 Hummel Street, cuts the ribbon to officially open the beautifully restored building

A good time was had by all
A good time was had by all

Former BHA Board Member Paul Wessell (left) discusses the project in the 1st floor kitchen with Executive Director Steve Schwartz
Former BHA Board Member Paul Wessell (left) discusses the project in the 1st floor kitchen with Executive Director Steve Schwartz


Posted by Steve Schwartz   (1/30/2015 10:12:23 AM | link)

Thursday, January 22, 2015
MLK Day of Service 2015: A Big Thank You!
MLK Day of Service LogoWe were excited to be one of the host agencies for Central PA MLK Day of Service! This past Monday, over 175 people came out to honor the legacy of Dr. King by working together to make our community a better place, where justice and opportunity are available to all.

At BHA, we were able to move forward on several renovation projects, prepare an apartment for a new family, and do some "spring" cleaning. Thanks everyone!

MLK Day of Service: 175 people gather for the opening program

MLK Day of Service: Two men doing renovation work
Photo courtesy

MLK Day of Service: Two men carrying a door
Photo courtesy

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (1/22/2015 9:53:25 AM | link)

Monday, December 29, 2014
This Is Home: Video Debut
Home. That's what BHA is to many formerly homeless women and children.

Listen to Bethe tell what it means to her in our new video. This is what your support has done in 2014 and will continue to do in the new year.

It gives a place to call home. It gives hope for a brighter tomorrow.

WATCH IT FULL-SIZE: This is Home on Vimeo.

Special Thanks: To Jay Basinger, Videographer, for donating his services to tell Bethe's story.

Make A Difference in the lives of Bethe and many others...

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (12/29/2014 6:51:42 PM | link)

Monday, December 29, 2014
Last Chance to Invest in 2014
As the year winds down, you have one last chance to give before the clock strikes midnight on December 31.

Donate button

If you prefer to mail your donation, make sure it is postmarked by December 31, 2014 for your tax receipt to be dated in 2014. Mail your check to: BHA, 219 Hummel Street, Harrisburg, PA 17104

Thank you! Your support makes our work possible!

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (12/29/2014 3:01:56 PM | link)

Monday, December 29, 2014
We're Hiring
We're hiring a Director of Development (full-time) and Volunteer Coordinator (part-time). Visit our Job Postings page for application instructions and to view the job descriptions.

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (12/29/2014 2:00:29 PM | link)

Monday, December 29, 2014
Townhouses Update
Where once stood six blighted buildings, now a row of beautiful new townhouses is taking form. After watching the foundation be laid, the frame go up, the roof go on...we were intrigued in the weeks leading to Christmas to watch the brick layers do their work. This is what the building looks like today!

The Hummel Street Townhouses on December 29, 2014

Thanks to PinnacleHealth System, our key partner in this project, many area contractors and funders are rallying along with dedicated BHA supporters to make this project a reality. We've raised almost 80% of the funds needed, but still have about $150,000 yet to raise to cover the construction portion of the project. Want to invest in Hummel Street? Join the transformation! Mark your gift for the "Hummel Street Townhouses."

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (12/29/2014 1:53:19 PM | link)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014
A Home For The Holidays
Michelle and her baby appreciate their new apartment"What do you want for Christmas?" Itís a question we hear a lot at this time of year. For Michelle, who moved into her BHA apartment the week before Thanksgiving, the answer was simple: "I wanted to not worry about where my baby and I were going to stay each night, and I want to be reunited with my other children."

Ever since losing her job due to a medical condition, Michelle had bounced from house to house. Also struggling with depression, she couldnít afford her own place. For a while she stayed with her sister. Then her friend until she wore out her welcome. She couldnít keep her two older children through the instability and they ended up in foster care.

But now she has a home for herself and her beautiful baby boy, Zahímarion, just in time for the holidays. Her next goal? Being reunited with her 3 year old son and 2 year old daughter. "I get to visit them, but itís hard being separated," she shares. As a parent myself, I can identify.

Michelle now has the stability and the peace of mind to focus on longer-term goals. "I want to go to culinary school, and my case manager told me about a 14 week program to get me started. I love to cook." As she tells me this, she shares about several of her recent meals. Iím starting to get hungry.

"I want to get job experience as a chef and work my way up. Eventually, I want to go to business school to prepare for my life-long dream: to own my own restaurant." As I ask about the restaurant's theme, she lists all the types of food she likes to cook: "Mexican, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Grilled..." and the list goes on and on. "Sounds like it will have an international flair," I point out. Iím getting hungrier.

In the past, the only jobs Michelle could get were warehouse or housekeeping work. Now, instead of just trying to get by, she has the opportunity to expand her options. To consider her hopes and dreams, not just daily survival. The road ahead is long and will take a lot of hard work. But now, with a secure home for the holidays, as well as the love and support of BHA staff and volunteers, these dreams of a reunited family and a future as a chef are on the horizon of reality.

Want to support Michelle and other women like her? Consider a year-end gift to help them build a future with hope.
Donate button

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (12/24/2014 8:28:39 PM | link)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Nearly 300 Turn Out to Celebrate BHA's 25 Years
Ronitta Chisolm tells her story of recovering from homelessness as a single teenage mother in the 1990s at BHAIt started out simply. Ronitta was a teen mother. In her own apartment at BHA for the first time. But why was her prized Thanksgiving turkey burning so quickly?

It was one of many poignant moments shared by BHA graduates who looked back over the past 25 years to see how far they'd come. It turns out Ronitta didn't know to extract the inside bag of goodies from the turkey, a problem her case manager remedied over an emergency phone call.

Ronitta now sees the long view of course. Her daughter just graduated from high school, a goal that Ronitta herself achieved at BHA years ago.

More than $53,000 has been raised so far to support single mothers like Ronitta and their children at Brethren Housing Association. And you can add to that tally by donating online here.

Thanks to all our corporate sponsors who already contributed to our work through the Silver Celebration!


With Major Sponsors:
Saul Ewing LLP
PinnacleHealth Systems
Janice Ruhl and Dottie Hershberger in memory of Ellie Miller
McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC
Friends of Patty Kim
The Hess Agency
Kreiser's Garage Manheim
Mette Evans & Woodside
Pricewaterhouse Coopers
Anonymous Supporter

With additional support from:
Capital Blue Cross
Dasher, Inc.
Fredericksburg Family Eyecare
Final Focus Productions
Hamilton Musser PC
Hollinger Services
Isley Design
Merrill Lynch
St. Jude Tree Farm

ABC Fuel Oil, Conrad Siegel Actuaries, Gibbel Insurance Agency, Inc., Highmark, Inc., Nationwide, PR Works, Sun Motor Cars,
Zimmerman Automotive

Thank you to all who contributed to make the Silver Celebration an amazing success!

Posted by Chris Fitz   (10/22/2014 2:24:21 PM | link)

Thursday, October 09, 2014
With Silver Celebration around the Corner, Construction on Hummel Street Townhouses Begins
While the finishing touches are being applied to the Silver Celebration on October 14th, construction crews have begun digging the footers for the Hummel Street Townhouses. To kick off the project, executives from PinnacleHealth System, BHA's partner in the project, showed up. Three news outlets came out as well to cover the good news and talk to our staff and residents, including this poignant testimony from ABC News 27.

abc27 WHTM

Posted by Chris Fitz   (10/9/2014 12:35:01 PM | link)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Help Us Celebrate 25 Years of Building Hope
Women at BHAs 2013 celebration event

Be Part of History! Help us Celebrate 25 Years of Building Hope at BHA!

Join us on October 14, 2014, from 5:30-8pm at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey (directions) as BHA hosts its Silver Celebration. We'll celebrate 25 years of helping homeless women and children find stability and hope on Hummel Street. Register Now!

We are pleased to welcome Valerie Pritchett from ABC Channel 27 as our celebrity emcee for this special occasion. The evening features a heavy hors d'oeuvres reception and festive raising of funds through live and silent auctions. We'll celebrate by hearing testimonies of lives changed through the programs of Brethren Housing Association.

Doors open at 5:30pm. First silent auction tables close at 6:30pm. Concludes with a dessert social.

For More Details Or To Register:
(717) 508-7242

For an exclusive preview of auction items
Click Here!

Posted by Chris Fitz   (9/17/2014 11:03:00 AM | link)

Thursday, September 04, 2014
Three Women Graduate from Transitions
Hawlie, Mackendra and Seydie each completed the Transitions program and have moved into stable housing in the Harrisburg area. All are employed full-time and two have maintained their current jobs (or been promoted) for more than a year! Congrats to you all...we will miss the smiles and tears of you and your children here on Hummel Street!

You can hear Mack talk about her journey of recovering stability and hope along with her Bagwashi mentor Yolanda (below) at BHA's Silver Celebration on October 14!.

Posted by Chris Fitz   (9/4/2014 10:55:28 AM | link)

Wednesday, August 20, 2014
Across the Board: BHA Welcomes New Talent, Praises Achievements of Parting Directors
Please join us in welcoming this yearís new board members: Steven Faus of Elizabethtown, owner of the Hess Agency, Frances Roggenbaum of Mechanicsburg, partner at Saul Ewing LLP and Deborah Saline of Camp Hill, principal at PRworks. These new directors bring not only a wealth of talent and experience to BHA, but also a passion for its mission.

Several of BHAís long-time board members are stepping back to let other members step forward, and we recognize these steadfast servants for their remarkable acheivements:

  • Paul Wessell, JD, 24 years, outgoing treasurer, and still on the Hummel Street Townhouses planning team;
  • Alex Groff, 18 years, outgoing property committee chair who managed many renovations, most recently, the Diener House;
  • David Weaver-Zercher, PhD, 14 years, outgoing secretary and strategic planning chair;
  • Robert Wintsch, 4 years, outgoing human resources committee member;
  • Julia Tilley, MSW, 2 years, outgoing program committee member and long-time program consultant.

Below, Alex Groff at the Diener House Ribbon Cutting, a project he personally managed for more than a year until its completion in September 2013.

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (8/20/2014 11:07:33 AM | link)

Friday, August 01, 2014
Seven Mothers Complete Faith & Finances Course
SEVEN MOTHERS IN BHAís Transitions program finished the Faith & Finances course, the second year the program has run. A faith-friendly, values-based curriculum through the Chalmerís Center based in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. The classes required the women to assess their financial priorities in terms of their core values with later units on budgeting, basic banking and financial management. Numerous moms developed new saving and spending habits as a result.

In the photo above, Natoya, a resident of the Diener House, receives her certificate from her case manager Marilyn Bellesfield.

For the second year, Faith & Finances was run thanks to sponsorship from Metro Bank, other supporter donations and volunteer assistance from local churches and businesses. Thank you all for making this program possible!

(Note this article corrects an error in our Fall 2014 Newsletter which incorrectly stated "3" graduates.)

Posted by Chris Fitz   (8/1/2014 10:41:25 AM | link)

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Give Two This Summer
Give Two This Summer graphic


Summer is a busy vacation season and this is affecting the availability of our usual youth program volunteers. We're short-handed on Monday evenings for our Light House program for children and youth.

Could you give a night or two in August and September? Monday evenings 5:45 to 8:15pm. Bring a friend!

Contact Heather Cotignola-Pickens, Youth Program Coordinator, at BHA at 233-6016 or

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (7/31/2014 10:42:45 AM | link)

Thursday, July 31, 2014
Welcome Cassy and Abbey!
Picture of Abbey King (left) and Cassy Bates (right)

We are excited to welcome two new staff members to BHA!

Cassy Bates (above, right) joined us as a Case Manager in May after graduating from Messiah College with her B.S. in Social Work. Cassy will be working with current families in our Transitions program as well as serving as our Next Steps program case manager, in which she will provide connection and support to families who have graduated from Transitions or our other housing programs.

Abbey King (above, left) is taking on the new role of our full-time Office Administrator in which she will manage day-to-day functions in the BHA office. In other words she makes sure everything is running smoothly and helps us all do our jobs better. Abbey is not new to BHA as she was the volunteer Event Coordinator for our Spring Thaw Bike Tour the past two years.

Welcome Cassy and Abbey!

Posted by Steve Schwartz   (7/31/2014 10:09:16 AM | link)

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Work Day @ BHA
Sat., April 11*

13th Annual BHA Golf Tournament
May 8

Parline Golf Course
Get Details
10th Annual Spring Thaw Bike Tour
May 9

Midway Church of the Brethren
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INAUGURAL Spring Thaw Trail Walk
May 9

Midway Church of the Brethren
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Work Day @ BHA
Sat., June 13*

* Dates and times of workdays are subject to change. If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Dennis Saylor, our Property Manager, at 717.233.6016 or to confirm work day is continuing as planned.