Last month, The Salvation Army announced the closure of the Bethesda Centre, a program for teenage mothers which we have been honored to operate in the London community for more than 50 years. The Centre provides a supportive and positive residential environment where expectant mothers are able to continue their education while learning how to care for and nurture their babies. We have been proud to serve hundreds of young women through the years. So, it was with great sadness and only through careful deliberation that we arrived at this decision.
Currently, the Centre is scheduled to close on June 30th with the Canterra Day Care Centre following on August 31st. This will allow ample time for our current client base of 6 moms to finish the school year and work their way through the program. It will also provide us an opportunity to find suitable transition programs for these young families.
Numerous attempts were made to secure additional funding to keep the Centre operational, but these efforts were unfortunately unsuccessful. This, and this alone, is the reason the Centre is now facing closure.
Following our announcement of the planned closure, we were extremely gratified by the outpouring of concern and support from many in the community who want to see the Bethesda Centre continue to operate. We have met with several concerned citizens to discuss ideas about how to find a sustainable funding model for the program.
So, today, we are issuing a challenge to the London community – help us save Bethesda. If The Salvation Army is able to raise $1.5 million by May 31st, the Centre will remain open. This level of funding will enable Bethesda to operate sustainably for the next three to five years. This will provide us with sufficient breathing room to find a model that works for the Centre long-term.
To donate to the Centre, we’ve established a dedicated web address, www.salvationarmy.ca/savebethesda, where donors can make a secure donation online toward meeting our goal. All of these donations will be held in trust until the May 31st deadline and are fully refundable if our effort falls short. Cheques can also be dropped off at the Bethesda Centre at 54 Riverview Drive or at Divisional Headquarters at 371 King Street.
Whatever happens to the Bethesda Centre, The Salvation Army is fully committed to serving the London community 365 days a year.