The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly:
Victory, Not Victims

Hello! My name is Grace Rains, and I am currently working as a social work intern here at the Bethlehem Center through the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Anyone who knows me knows that all I really talk about anymore is the Beth, the kids at the Beth, or upcoming events concerning the Beth. From an outsider’s perspective, this agency is an older building that sits in the midst of the Alton Park community that takes care of kids every day after-school. From an intern’s perspective, I’m here to tell you that this place is so much more than an after-school program – it’s a family.

Coming into this internship, I thought I knew what it meant to put myself in someone else’s shoes. Then I met a little girl named Jamariya. She lives near the Beth with her mom and siblings. If anyone has a reason to feel like a victim, it’s her. Jamariya comes from a single-parent, low-income household, and lives in a notoriously high-risk neighborhood for crime. However, after spending time in the Eggs classroom (our K - 1st graders), I realized that she is one of the best students in her class. During snack time, she doesn’t care to sit alone and mind her own business. She is also extremely sweet and rarely disturbs the other children. Seeing Jamariya constantly exhibit resilience and strength inspires me to rise above whatever life throws at me. She helps me see that I don’t have to be a victim to my circumstances. 

Jamariya’s life is just one encouraging story in the midst of around 100 kids we serve throughout the year at the Bethlehem Center. If there’s one thing I’ve learned at the Beth, it’s that this place will change your perspective of the world. Being around staff who are so passionate about bettering the lives of their students shows me that there is always a better or more creative way to get through to a child. Working with kids who rise above what life throws at them taught me about resilience, how to fight for equity, and how to be more outspoken about the injustices occurring in the world. 

At the end of the day, the truth is that this place isn’t always pretty. Being a part of a family means that you get the good, bad, and ugly. The bad and the ugly come in fits of crying when a kid has a bad day at school or is acting out physically because of a problem. However, the good makes it all worth it when you see the joy in a child after being told that he or she is Star Student of the Month, how much Christmas shopping money he or she acquired because of good behavior, or when a child tells you that the Beth is his or her favorite place to be. I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything, and I’m so excited to see how the Beth continues to grow in the future!

Grace Rains

Grace is a senior at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga and plans to graduated with a degree in social work. In the future she plans to attend graduate school to pursue her master's degree in social work and later work for a non - profit with child advocacy or ACEs early intervention. In her spare time Grace loves to hang with family and friends.

Posted by The Beth

Read to Lead Highlight:

December 13th, 2018

 Read to Lead Academy Highlight: 

 Ms. Kiesha's Story

Being employed at the Bethlehem Center has allowed me 

to have a positive impact on the children that are enrolled

 in the Read to Lead program, which is something that I 

never knew I was capable of doing.
When I found out I would be working with the younger 

kids, I was kind of nervous because I’m not a teacher and

 certainly never considered myself to be one.  I am a

 single parent of three, and I grew up/live in the same 

neighborhood as the children who attend the program so I 

didn’t even see myself as role model.

The night before the program was set to begin, I 

wondered how I would be able to connect with the

 children. I was clueless. While on YouTube, I ran across 

an inspiring video from a Gap commercial which aired in

 2017. It was a clip of a third grade teacher, who taught

 her class a mantra titled “Push Through". It was about

 how to rise above and persevere through adversity. I 

watched the video repeatedly because I wanted my three

 kids to learn it. But then something happened. I realized 

that my connection would be that I am a parent and these 

students would become my kids too.

And when you are a parent, you always have your children's 

best interest at heart. This was something that they needed to 

hear. The program began, weeks passed, and the students 

learned  the mantra.

To see and hear them recite this mantra is… amazing! At the 

end of the mantra I usually say, “Well I don’t believe you 

because I can’t hear you” but yesterday, I didn’t say it. You 

know what happened? They asked me did I believe them. I 

jokingly said no and in the loudest voice ever, they repeated 

the mantra with the cutest facial expression, determined to

 prove to me that they can “Push Through”.

Rakiesha Michelle

Kiesha is an after-school teacher for the Bethlehem Center's Read to Lead Academy. She loves teaching the first grade class which includes her daughter, Taylor. Kiesha is currently a student at UTC and is working on a Criminal Justice degree. The Beth is blessed to have a dedicated and loving teacher like Keisha on our team!

Posted by The Beth | Topic: Community

Morning Manna

October 26th, 2018

      Morning Manna is one of my favorite ways that the Bethlehem Center serves South Chattanooga children and families. The purpose of the program is to provide a safe haven where middle and high school students can wait for the bus in the morning. The program is especially unique because it allows us to take advantage of a time that most students are unsupervised or don’t have anything constructive to do. We open the gym every morning, play sports and card games with kids, do a brief devotional, and enjoy snacks with them on Fridays!

The program officially started in 2016 after a shooting happened one morning at the bus stop. We’d never imagined that anything like this could have happened but once it did, we knew that it was our responsibility to act. So, we started opening up the gym to students. We were able to get grants from CHI Memorial the first two years to help us fund two staff members, sports balls, and snacks for the program.

Since starting in 2016, Morning Manna has served more than 77 students and at least 25 of those have been high schoolers. All of them have had the opportunity to be exposed to the gospel and have been mentored by our staff who genuinely care about their well being. We have seen students go on to work at the Bethlehem Center and the Chattanooga Zoo. Some have grown in their self-control and others have learned to open up more to others.

Are you ready to be a part of a program that brings light and fun to the morning times? Great! We need $4,500 to provide students in our area with a warm, fun, and safe place to wait for the bus for the entire school year. Will you help us provide this safe haven?

Go to, or give cash or check to the Bethlehem Center 200 W 38th St.

Any amount helps!

 Gloria Dubose

Gloria is the Community Outreach Director at the Bethlehem Center. She started at the Beth as an unpaid intern and she's been here ever since! She's a proud Moc (UTC alumni) and is passionate about learning everything Latin (including Spanish).
To connect with Gloria email [email protected]

Posted by The Beth | Topic: Community

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Happy New Year!

Do you know about our Community Connection Coach coming in 2019?

Learn more and get involved by contacting Gloria Dubose at (423) 362- 7245!

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