Needs and Deeds: Bethel Foundation
Since Bethel Foundation began almost a decade ago, the Oklahoma City nonprofit has helped more than 35,600 single mothers, single fathers, children and families. There are plans in the works for a building expansion to begin in early 2015.
And it all started with one single mom.
Founder and CEO Lynda Powell experienced firsthand the struggles of an abusive marriage and then life as a single mother, trying to feed and clothe her children.
It was her life’s difficulties that she says inspired her to create an organization that would someday lift other mothers and give them hope.
“Through that total brokenness, I just cried out to the Lord and asked him to help me get out of this hole and I would devote my whole life to helping other mothers,” said Powell, 62.
As Powell began to gain hope in her life, she started documenting on paper what she would create, how it would work, what it would be named: Bethel because it means “God’s house,” and foundation because it was going to be built on a solid platform.
She is adamant that this was God’s plan, not hers.
“I never forgot it, and the more I was getting out of the hole, the more I realized there’s a lot of people that need help. It wasn’t just me,” she said. “And it just became a passion. I want to help other people.”
Support for the nonprofit comes from individuals, small-business owners, larger corporations and grants through private foundations.
Bethel Foundation, 13003 N Western Ave., has provided “help, hope and direction” to single mothers, Powell said. This has included providing the basics of food and clothing, but also summer camps for their children, a home ownership program and a scholarship program to help single mothers, as well as single fathers, go back to school.
Bethel Foundation is trying to raise $108,000 for the Grace Scholarships.
“I firmly believe education is a key to independence,” Powell said. “It doesn’t guarantee you a job, but at least it will make you competitive, and you’ve got to have that in today’s world.”
And, like Powell herself, Bethel Foundation has gone through a transformation, from only helping single moms and their children to serving all families. After the 2013 storms, displaced families had lost everything and were needing clothes, bedding, furniture and appliances.
“How could I turn them away because they’re not a single mom? I couldn’t do that with a conscience.”
So, while the nonprofit started out as a single-mothers ministry, and the focus is still on single moms, the Bethel Foundation has grown beyond that.
“I feel like if someone comes here we can help, we have the means to help them, then I feel like God has sent them, and we’re going to do it,” Powell said.
As the nonprofit looks toward its 10-year anniversary in November, there are discussions of a building expansion to better help those they serve.
“We’re cramped, but we’ve got the land,” she said of the nonprofit that sits on five acres.
Business people in the community already are planning to assist with raising funds.
The goal is to raise $500,000 to start the expansion project.
AT A GLANCE
•Where: 13003 N Western Ave.
HOW TO HELP
The following are needed donations to help Bethel Foundation:
•New toys or gift cards for the Birthday Club, to benefit ages 1 to 18.
•New and gently used clothes for children, women and men (all sizes).
•Products that food stamps cannot provide, such as toilet paper, paper towels, deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrushes.
•Diapers, especially sizes 4 and 5.
•Furniture and working appliances.
•Bedding and sheets, all sizes.
•Pots and pans, dishes and silverware.
•A cargo van with a lift to help with pickup of items.