Campus Ministry Takes Students to Volunteer at Local Women’s Shelter


(Photograph by Madison Weber)

By Madison Weber ’23, Staff Writer and Social Media Manager

January 19th, 2023

On Wednesday November 30th, Campus Ministry brought several students to make dinner and pray with the residents of the Bethany House. The Bethany House is a Catholic Worker house in Rochester located at 1111 Joseph Ave. According to their mission statement, the house aims to provide “temporary housing, assistance and support to women and children in Rochester, NY afflicted with homelessness and instability from domestic violence, incarceration, addiction, mental health, physical illness, or poverty.” Students were able to make spaghetti and meatballs, for the 13 current residents of the house.

The Bethany House opened its doors in 1977 and focuses on these values “personalism, communitarianism, nonviolence, and equality of rights & resources.” This is based on the Catholic Worker Movement that was spearheaded by Dorothy Day. The Catholic Worker Movement is grounded in the idea of “the God-given dignity of every human person, their movement was committed to nonviolence, voluntary poverty, and the Works of Mercy as a way of life.” As a result, the Bethany House is a place where the homeless, hungry, and forsaken are always welcome. They aim to live out the “‘radical’ principle of hospitality towards one’s neighbor with no expectation of anything in return”. 

Services are free, and according to Jon Schott, individuals cannot be turned away if the house is able to accommodate them. There are 10 bedrooms and bathrooms on the second floor, and a prayer space, kitchen, dining room, and living room on the first floor. The Bethany House will not discriminate based on “age, race, income, religion, sexual orientation, or gender identity” and the services it provides are free. Schott said that women, and often their children, are able to stay for 45 days. During the cold winter months, in the case of a Code Blue being called, they will go out and find individuals on the street and invite them to sleep in the basement that is typically a playspace for children of the house. The house also provides clothing and food assistance for individuals in the community who are not residents. 

Abby Valone, a sophomore nursing major, has been to the Bethany House with Fisher twice. Valone said “I feel like it’s important as someone who wants to go into labor and delivery as a nurse to have experiences with women from all walks of life”. “The women at Bethany House have opened my eyes to see that support and love can go a long way, especially for single moms,” she said. According to Valone, service at the Bethany House is an important value of both Fisher and Campus Ministry: “it is essentially rooted in Christianity. A lot of women there use their spirituality to help them through their life journey, which is inspiring to see as another Christian”. She then added that “Fisher is a school that believes in the power of service and giving back.” 

(Photograph by Madison Weber)

Reid Hooker, a first-year Accounting Major, visited the Bethany house for the first time on the 30th. Hooker said that when he went into the experience he wasn’t sure what to expect, but when he got there was “amazed at how well kept Bethany House is. It really provides a nice service to people in need.” He enjoyed being able to help others; “it’s also beneficial to get outside of campus and learn about the problems that others are going through there. He found it to be a “very humbling experience to see people who are truly in need and it puts my elementary problems in perspective.” 

“Students need to discover that there are more pressing problems than getting a bad grade, not finding an open washing machine, or other first-world problems. It’s important to be sympathetic to our needs and empathetic to the needs of ourselves,” said Hooker. 

The house runs exclusively on grants and private donations, and is always looking for volunteers. Students looking to get involved can stop into the Campus Ministry office, email [email protected], or check out the Bethany House’s website here.