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  • Jered Stewart

Happy New Year from Bethany Communities!

Happy New Year! 2020 is a significant year for Bethany Community Services as we celebrate ou

r 55th anniversary! When I read about the history of Bethany, I wonder if those who did the hard work of creating such an organization would have imagined what it would look like 55 years later. 2020 is an exciting year as we look to move ahead with plans to build new housing. Although it may be a few years away before a shovel breaks ground, the hard work and planning has already begun. I find myself fortunate to be a part of this great organization and to be around to see what Bethany has become, and to look to the future with plans to expand our mission.

As you can imagine, things were not always easy for us, especially in the beginning. The Rev. Duane Windemiller, founding chairperson of Bethany, authored an autobiography in 2005 titled, “Which Reminds Me”. In his book he reflected upon the challenges faced when we first began.

“We organized Bethany Homes, Inc. which has since built many millions of dollars worth of senior citizen housing. That was in 1965 and in four years there stood, in the center of Haverhill, overlooking the Merrimack River, a 150 apartment project called Merrivista. Nothing worthwhile and spiritually rewarding is without its pain and trials. There were some in Haverhill who were dead set against having such a project in Haverhill – afraid it would not produce the taxes a privately-owned complex would. To this end, a member of the city council met me on the street one day and said, ‘Good morning, Dr. Windemiller. I want to commend you for your efforts on behalf of the elderly of Haverhill, but I want you to know that I am going to do everything in my power to see that the building you propose doesn’t get off the ground’.”

Sometimes it may seem like there is always someone or something against us in life. I think about that city councilor who opposed Bethany, and I assume they may have had good intentions. But then I think of the thousands of residents served by Bethany, not only at Merrivista, but at all of the other sites as well, and I am glad that the founders didn’t back down.

What a great reminder and encouragement to always persevere, even amongst the challenges that we face. May we always strive ahead in the face of adversity. As we start this new year, may we be grateful to our founders: Dr. Windemiller, Father Chabot, Pastor Bill Sadleir, Norman Allers, Ed Nordengren, Denise Hillner, Ruby Maddocks and David Watnick. Maybe you don’t know these names, but without them, we wouldn’t be turning 55!

“Nothing worthwhile and spiritually rewarding is without its pain and trials.”

– Rev. Dr. Duane Windemiller

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