Modesto’s Bethany Christian Services grateful for response to budget aid call

When Bethany Christian Services sent out a $150,000 budget S.O.S. in September, officials at the nonprofit adoption and pregnancy resource agency had no idea the community would respond so generously.

Nearly $87,000 in donations had been tallied as of Wednesday afternoon, with hopes and expectations that money will continue to be received.

“First, we want to thank the community for their tremendous generosity,” Lynette Redal Stime, Northern California director for Bethany, said in an email interview. “We are grateful and very encouraged.”

The budget gap threatened staff and service cuts at the agency, which needed financial help by Sept. 30, the end of its third financial quarter. Donations thus far have provided enough of a boost that Redal Stime believes layoffs can be avoided this year.

“We are heartened by the response of the community, and this is an encouragement to us to press on and avoid layoffs/reduced services at this time,” she wrote, “but we must raise the full amount to cover our expenses by year-end.”

To do that, Bethany is looking for additional sponsors for its annual Golf Classic coming up Oct. 20, as well as asking past supporters – individuals and churches – to consider a year-end gift to the nonprofit agency.

“We are also considering ways in which we can reach a broader audience who may be unfamiliar with our critical services and positive mark we make on the community as October is Orphan Care Month and November is National Adoption Month,” Redal Stime said. She added that a local corporation has offered “the potential of a major grant to help us close this gap.”

Donations have run the gamut from large to small. They’ve come from families who have received services through Bethany, as well as from the community as a whole. “It’s very humbling and exciting at the same time,” Redal Stime said.

The shortfall was the result of a drop in donations for the 2014 fiscal year, combined with an increase in requests for services. The agency’s budget for the year is just shy of $1.6 million.

The Modesto office is the hub for Bethany Christian Services of Northern California, which provides services from Kern County to the Oregon border and from the Sierra to the Bay Area. There are 23 full- and part-time staff members. Thirteen of them work in Modesto.

The agency provides professional counseling, advocacy, education and adoption services – locally, nationally and internationally – and supportive services to pregnant women and families. A residential ministry, Bethany’s House, offers housing to women in need during their pregnancies – about 10 percent of its clients, Redal Stime said.

Adoptive families pay a fee for services. A letter went out in September to Bethany’s adoptive families, letting them know of the shortfall and seeking financial help, both one-time and ongoing gifts, calling the need “urgent.”

The Modesto office is part of the greater Bethany Christian Services, a global nonprofit family preservation and child welfare organization caring for orphans and vulnerable children on five continents. The organization was started in 1944 by two young women, Marguerite Bonnema and Mary DeBoer, who wanted to establish a Christian residence for homeless children. With the assistance of businessman Andrew VanderVeer, they established the first Bethany Home. Headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., the organization now has 1,400 employees worldwide.