Celebrate Amanda’s journey with us!

Dear Friend of BHA,

“Life offers no fulfillment without work.”

I read this phrase about halfway through Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How To Reverse It). While tucked away in the middle of a paragraph, it stood out to me.

Some of my mentors might quibble with the absolute nature of this statement, especially as they challenge me to find balance with down time and prayer. But within the context of our work at BHA, it makes perfect sense.

I know the joy found in meaningful work.

In providing for my family.

In getting my college degree.

Amanda at Christmas

Amanda recalls “for the first time in my life I was providing for myself and Jasmine…” This Christmas, celebrate Amanda’s journey with us!

In being able to give of my time and money in service to others out of my abundance.

Over the years, I’ve seen many women also find this great joy…the satisfaction of working hard to build a brighter future for their children.

Amanda is one such woman.

As I ask you to consider a year-end gift to the 20/20 Vision Campaign, please take a moment to be encouraged by Amanda’s story, and what your support means to her and many others.

Amanda shared her story at our annual banquet on November 3. Bob Lupton, the author of Toxic Charity, was our guest speaker.

After a childhood filled with abuse and pain, Amanda and her younger sisters were abandoned by their parents when Amanda was just 15. They scattered.

By the age of 21, Amanda had spent two years in jail, was in recovery for addiction, and had a beautiful daughter, Jasmine. She bore these responsibilities

on her own. That is when she turned to BHA for help.

She came to the right place.

Our goal is what Amanda was looking for: to help homeless families achieve greater stability and independence. To reduce their dependence on “the system.” To walk along side them as they experience the joy in providing for their own family, some for the first time.

When Amanda came to BHA, she got a job at a small grocery in the city. It didn’t pay much and had no benefits, but with her criminal record, Amanda felt blessed to have a job.

Upon getting the job, she went to the welfare office to sign-up for subsidized childcare. Amanda relates what happened:

…I was told I could sign-up, but there was a six month waiting list. I said “but I thought you could get subsidized childcare if you were low-income.” They responded “No, you only qualify immediately if you are on welfare, so if you want, you can quit your job, go on welfare, sign-up for childcare and then find another job” but jobs weren’t exactly easy for me to come by so I joined the waiting list, which ended up being eight months long. So for eight months I earned $200/week and paid $110/week for childcare. So I was left with $90 in my pocket. I figured it was either have $90 in my pocket or have nothing at all.

Amanda chose the harder road.

This is what Lupton means when he says, “Life offers no fulfillment without work.” Amanda found that by going to work each day she was doing what was best for her family. And through her determination, she was overcoming the barriers she faced as she moved toward self-sufficiency.


Heather Kelly (left) reflects on her friendship with Amanda (right) at the BHA Banquet on November 3

She didn’t want a handout. She wanted to get on her own two feet.

And we’ve seen it time and again in our work with other mothers.

Amanda and Heather Kelly, a former staff member and the co-chair of BHA’s 20/20 Vision Campaign, have built a strong friendship. They shared together at the BHA Banquet. As Heather has said:

BHA doesn’t make anyone into a success. The women do the hard of building a brighter future for their family. We’re simply privileged to provide the environment where they can do so.

Amanda’s journey is filled with ups and downs. When she finally made it to the top of the childcare subsidy waiting list, she paid out of pocket for two more months during the state budget impasse. Finally, she received a refund for those months that allowed her to buy her first car – one more step on the road to self-sufficiency!

I remember her amazement at how fast she had “saved” this money when she was forced too. And imagine her pride in buying a car with her own money. She recalls “for the first time in my life I was taking responsibility and providing for myself and Jasmine.”


Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity, challenges us to pursue long-term solutions…developing people into all God has designed them to be

This is why BHA exists. To help women like Amanda say “for the first time in my life I am…”

“…in a good job.”

“…out of debt.”

“…able to check ‘high school graduate’ on the application form.”

“…able to provide for my family.”

Amanda hit some bumps in the road during the time she lived in her BHA apartment – stable childcare and employment continued to be a tough barrier, and the road to self-sufficiency is not always a straight path. But through it all Amanda tried to stay focused on her goals.

After overcoming some significant challenges in the year after she left BHA, Amanda stayed with a friend for a while, and then came to a crossroads. She and Jasmine needed their own apartment.

She called us after hearing about our new Next Steps program.

Next Steps was conceived through our 20/20 Vision. Around the time we first met Amanda, we were recognizing the need to provide more intentional follow-up support for families that leave our close-knit program on Hummel Street.

Many everyday challenges await when moving on their own. Through Next Steps we provide follow-up case management, and in some cases short-term rental assistance, to ease a family’s transition and ensure their on-going success.

So Amanda took the next step on her long journey by joining Next Steps. And it is a privilege to be walking alongside her once again.

She’s now studying at Harrisburg Area Community College and was recognized as one of the most outstanding students in the administrative professionals program. This led to her being selected for a paid internship in the Vice President’s Office!

These amazing steps have been made possible by your support. As God has expanded our vision to serve more families and broaden our programming, our faithful supporters have walked alongside us providing counsel and encouragement.

Because you walk alongside us, we can walk alongside Amanda.

The 20/20 Vision is allowing many more families to build a future with hope through the ministry of BHA.

As our vision expands, so does our call for your support. We publically launched the 20/20 Vision Campaign at our May 1 block party, and we’re thrilled to report that we have already passed the $1.27 million mark of our three-year $2.25 million 20/20 Vision Campaign goal. We’re 56% toward our goal, which is tremendous news! But we still have far to go.

About 40% of our $2.25 million goal must come from individuals like you. Will you join us in helping Amanda take the next step on her journey?

Our challenge is to find supporters willing to give sacrificially during a time of economic challenge. Our board, staff and campaign leadership led by example, doubling their annual giving each of the next three years for the duration of the 20/20 Vision Campaign.

Now we ask for your prayerful consideration for a gift. The gift of accompaniment. Of providing a safe space for stability, self-sufficiency and the opportunity to blossom. As the economy struggles, our phones ring daily with calls for help as homelessness and poverty are on the rise.

Please consider your own three-year pledge to the 20/20 Vision Campaign by clicking the Donate button below. If a pledge is not possible, your immediate support this fall is a great help in furthering our vision.

Thank you for helping BHA take the next step on our journey, as we help Amanda take the next step on hers.

Grace and peace,
Steve Schwartz
Executive Director


Because you walk alongside us, we can walk alongside Amanda and many others.

Because you walk alongside us,
we can walk alongside Amanda and many others.

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