NO. 837


By nature, I am just naturally an optimistic person. However, I am not quite as optimistic as the old boy who went down to the courthouse to see if his marriage license had expired. There is another word in our English language that can be used interchangeably with optimism, and that word is hope. To be sure, we all need hope and in the right things -- a better job, better income, better health, better marriage, better future and a better life, just to name a few. However, in these stressful times with millions of people out of a job and most of them in debt, we all need to be constantly reminded of our self-worth as a person and the fact that learning and applying the right principles can indeed lead to a better life.
We have a unique ministry here in our community that is doing this for countless individuals and families who are down on their luck for any number of reasons. This ministry is called Bethlehem House, which, according to the director Judi Lively, encourages, equips and motivates homeless individuals and families to change their lives and their situations. Judi is quoted as saying, “I like to summarize that what we do is help people who want to change their lives, and we focus on equipping them to do so.”
Now, please allow me to pause here and make an important comment or two. If you live in another community where you read my column each week, the principles and strategy this ministry employs will help any person who may be down on their luck to achieve greater success and happiness. This is why I have titled the column “A Program of Hope.”
Please read and ponder the following information and you will see a program that has been developed over time, with trial and error, that can even be lifesaving for many people. Here are some of the reasons why their program works. First, they have the discipline built in the program that is lacking in many homeless and hurting peoples’ lives that has led to their present condition. The program requires drug and alcohol testing, and if a person fails these tests they are unable to stay. Those who do stay have to get jobs, and 50 percent of their money goes into a savings account that Bethlehem House manages and is used to pay off bills, fines, child support, or any accounts they may have in arrears. Their goal is to get residents into zero debt and for them to save money. Bethlehem House residents pay 20 percent back into the house. “That really is a discipline. We all have rent or mortgages to pay, and our residents have to do that, too. It also gives them some buy-in to the program,” states Judi.
Completion of a money management course is also a residency requirement. Habitants who may have addiction issues must attend a 12-step program, and those who have mental health issues must be stabilized. Bethlehem House has two dedicated case managers who work with the residents. “They work with their case manager to develop individual goals. These goals can be anything from reestablishing a relationship with a family member to getting back into church to getting out of debt or buying a car. The goals are their choice and their case manager holds them accountable. In fact, a case manager goes through their goals each week to check their progress,” says Judi.
That’s the end of what I wanted to share. Please note that most of this information came from a magazine called Women’s Inc., published each month by our local newspaper. Our community really supports this ministry and they have plans to build a larger facility to do more. Every community needs a program like Bethlehem House.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit You won’t go wrong helping a needy child!