An extraordinary 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much about our lives. Today, all of Team Bethesda continues to be engaged in the effort to protect the health and well-being of people we support, our employees and our communities.
We’ve done all we can right from the beginning. As our homes began to shelter in place and we closed our day programs, we made a commitment to frequent and open communication. We have held dozens of live town hall meetings with parents, guardians and employees to explain developments and answer questions.
We also immediately considered ways to keep people active and engaged through technology. We have connected parents and guardians with their loved ones through Zoom video chats and provided a connection to faith via online resources. We further developed a robust series of online classes and events for the homes, including a weekly nationwide dance party—which will continue once COVID-19 passes.
Yes, as hard as it may seem to believe, this will pass. Looking ahead to that time, we are continuing to develop new and innovative programs to promote independence. You can read about progress we have made on Bethesda Cornerstone Village in Victoria, Minnesota. We also are committed to promoting the need to include people with disabilities, and while Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month in March was cut short by COVID-19, this important work continues.
For now, I encourage you to visit our Events and Resources section for frequently updated information about COVID-19. Additionally, please know that while we are committed to doing all we can for the people we support, we face a significant and ongoing financial challenge. More than ever, we will need your help. We cannot do what we do without you.
Thank you for your support of Bethesda’s mission. Please stay safe and healthy.
Mike Thirtle, PhD
President & CEO Bethesda
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
– Galatians 6:2 NIV
A lifetime of teaching, encouraging and giving
Carol Abraham loved nurturing young minds. For 34 years she worked as a teacher in the Milwaukee public schools where she taught high-school English and special education. Although she had many other teaching opportunities, Carol believed she could do the most good and help more children by staying in Milwaukee.
Every spring, Carol would buy and collect school supplies for an annual summer trip to Kenya, where she would teach school. Each year, she would “adopt” a Kenyan student and help pay for their education. Carol was humble in all she did for others because she was doing what she loved: teaching and nurturing.
Former students would get in touch with her and thank her for being tough yet encouraging. As one former student put it, “Ms. Abraham saw potential in me when no one else did.”
Driven to help people of all abilities
Early in her career, Carol also developed a love for helping people with disabilities, leading her to teach special education classes, volunteer for the Special Olympics and provide financial support to Bethesda Lutheran Communities. She would buy crafts for Bethesda residents. Carol was determined to help people of all abilities and circumstances reach their full potential.
Later in life Carol developed health issues and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She was no longer able to travel to Kenya, but she continued to support Bethesda.
Cornerstone Village making progress
On a beautiful summer day in 2019, Bethesda broke ground on Cornerstone Village in Victoria, Minn. Once complete later this year, this new residential concept—truly a first of its kind—will integrate people with disabilities with adults of all abilities 55 years and older. Besides comfortable and convenient living environments, the idea is to forge independent lifestyles and tight ties to the larger community. As construction has continued through the winter and spring months, excitement has grown.
Visit our site for more information
Driving home a message of inclusion
Previously, we gave you a preview of our plans for the month of March, which is
National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month. And while our plans were interrupted
by COVID-19, we still made huge strides toward promoting our
message of love and inclusion.
Check out our microsite
Discovering community during a crisis
Donors, partners, advocates,
volunteers and more. All have not only come together during this time, but have done so
with love, grace and compassion. Because no matter what changes are happening in the
world around us, there’s one thing that will never change: our collective dedication to
helping people with disabilities live full, rich and healthy lives.
Here are just a few of the ways our incredible community has united to help us get through
this trying time—and to do so stronger and better than ever.
Learn about our COVID-19 response