Read to Lead Highlight:

June 28th, 2018

                              Mr. Larry

At the Beth we are blessed to have dedicated teachers who enjoy working with our kids. One of these awesome teachers is Mr. Larry! Larry has been a part of the Beth family for about a year. He wanted to work with the Read to Lead Academy because he is passionate about helping kids and giving back to the community. Growing up, Larry had people in his life that positively impacted him and pointed him in the right direction. Now he believes it’s his calling to do the same for others.

Larry lives out this calling by being a positive influence in the lives of his middle school students. During the school year he led discussions with his class about notable Black figures and the important accomplishments that they made. Since then he says “it’s cool to watch them grow and take pride in their culture and history as African - Americans.” He can see a maturity in them that they didn’t have before.

Not only is Larry a part of the Read to Lead after school program, but he also works in our summer program called Jump STArt Camp and our youth sports program. During camp he works with his middle schoolers and attends their weekly field trips. For the sports program he helps with the middle school teams and referees for the summer Preschool League on Saturdays.

It’s clear to see that Larry is dedicated to his community and enjoys watching his students grow academically and spiritually.

The Beth is proud to have a passionate teacher who wants the best for his students.


Shari J. Watson

Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Coordinator at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can.

Posted by The Beth

The Partnership Food Pantry

For the past several months the Bethlehem Center has housed the Partnership Food Pantry. The pantry is overseen by Karen Nichols, a life coach for the Building Stable Lives program of the Partnership for Families, Children, and Adults. Ms. Karen has an office at the Beth that allows her to serve clients within our zip code. She noticed that Alton Park lacks food resources for those in need. Transportation is difficult for residents to visit the Chattanooga Food Bank and other surrounding pantries. Even the bus line is not always convenient or available.

Ms. Karen has over 30 years of helping people, and says that “listening and asking the community what they need makes them feel supported.” 

By reaching out to these residents, Ms. Karen has helped bring more hope to the community. From November to May the pantry served about 80 households: 104 adults and 80 children. This month alone over 1,200 lbs of food were distributed to the community. A story Ms. Karen loves to share is about a group of kids from our Read to Lead Academy who came to get food for their family. Their mother recently had surgery and couldn’t leave their home. It warmed Ms. Karen’s heart to provide food for this family. Another story Ms. Karen shared was about a group of senior citizens from the Emma Wheeler Homes who were only receiving $18 in food stamps. This doesn’t even cover the amount of food they need for the week. With the help of a community member, Ms. Karen is able to provide these seniors with transportation from Emma Wheeler to the Beth, allowing them to get the food they need. 

The food pantry started with a $200 donation from SunTrust Bank executives. Since then, Ms. Karen has relied on the generous donations of churches, schools, and other organizations from around the city. Ms. Karen has over 30 years of helping people, and says that “listening and asking the community what they need makes them feel supported.” Coming from a similar background as our residents, overcoming obstacles, and making it a point to graduate from college, she says “giving back and helping others is what I’ve always wanted to do.” 

Ms. Karen also says that “ this is not just a food pantry, it’s a place for relationship building within the community.” Residents are willing to help each other by providing transportation to their neighbors and carrying food boxes for the elderly. They care about each other. 

We are honored to have Ms. Karen and the Partnership Food Pantry at the Bethlehem Center. Not only does she run the Partnership Food Pantry, but she goes the extra mile to help empower our community by helping them budget, find employment, and more through her Building Stable Lives program. It’s a blessing to Ms.Karen and the Beth staff to know that we are supporting our community by providing greatly needed resources.

The Partnership Food Pantry is always grateful for your donation of meat, canned salmon, items that are low in sodium and sugar, canned vegetables, boxes, and more! For more information on what to donate call Ms. Karen at (423) 265-3114.


Shari J. Watson

Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Coordinator at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can.

Posted by The Beth

Community Highlight:

April 20th, 2018

Camp Lookout

During spring break, some of our Beth students, along with students from surrounding Chattanooga schools, went to Camp Lookout for a week. Amazing camp counselors went with them to mentor and guide them through every exciting adventure. One of the counselors was our Beth intern, Caleb. He helped lead a group of high school boys and one middle school boy. Caleb’s favorite activities with his group were caving and hiking.

Most of the boys had never experienced this!

While caving, Caleb watched his campers drop down into a dark hole with their flashlights, crawl between small spaces, and face their fears. One student in particular stood out for his willingness to try new things. Dee was always first to volunteer for any activity,” Caleb said. “He was the shortest and smallest kid, but he wasn’t afraid to try anything.” 

I wasn't that different from them when I was in high school. 

During the hike, Caleb noticed that the kids started to truly see the beauty of nature. “When we made it to the waterfall, everyone grew quiet,” he said smiling. “It was the first time seeing a waterfall for many of them. It was this moment where I saw them begin to truly bond with one another.”

Another camper that stood out to Caleb was a kid named Devonte. Caleb noticed that the older kids in his group liked to pick on the one middle schooler. Devonte was the only one who stood up for the younger kid and included him. Devonte also spoke out against violence when Caleb and another camp counselor lead a discussion about gangs. Devonte shared that family is more important to him than any stability that a gang may provide. It was clear to Caleb and the other counselor that Devonte doesn’t follow the crowd. 

Caleb’s experience as a camp counselor is one he’ll never forget. “My time with these kids definitely tested my patience and grace in a lot of ways, but I learned not to sweat the little things. I wasn’t that different than them when I was in high school.” Caleb loved seeing how the campers who had tough exteriors at the beginning of the week began to soften as they took on new adventures. At night when the boys were in their cabins, he overheard them saying how much fun they had during their daily activities, and how they saw or did something new. 

It’s safe to say that Caleb enjoyed his time at camp just as much as his campers did. Providing our students with new opportunities for growth and walking alongside them is what the Beth is all about, and that’s why I share this story with you.


Shari J. Watson

Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Assistant at the Bethlehem Center. She enjoys being out in nature, laughing with friends, eating Chinese food, and traveling as much as she can.

Posted by The Beth

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The Bethlehem Center presents

Join us for a live and silent auction benefiting the Read to Lead Academy! 

Learn more here!