Volunteer Testimony: Marco Perez

Hello, my name is Marco Perez. I am a senior at Howard High School.

I was one of many seniors that didn’t know where to go for my volunteer hours. I turned to my guidance counselor for help, and she gave me the number of the Director of Community Outreach, Gloria.

While I was at the Bethlehem Center, I helped around with whatever was needed. I ended up helping in the food pantry and did other general cleaning duties. I also helped set up for bingo at the Beth and the Mary Walker Towers.

I really enjoyed my time at the Beth. Working with the seniors and seeing them happy playing bingo made me happy.

I thought volunteering would be boring, and that I'd have to do stuff that really didn’t matter. Now that I have actually volunteered my views have changed and made me realize that it does matter. It may not seem much, but the little we give is a lot for many others.

Posted by The Beth

Kinsey's Story

May 1st, 2019

                        Kinsey's Story 

While interning at the Bethlehem Center in the Community Connection department, I was able to connect with seniors on a level I didn’t know was possible. I was beyond nervous going into the senior homes to play bingo.  I almost shut down, and I had no idea where I was. I am obviously caucasian and I was afraid I would be looked down upon, because of the inequalities that have been created between my African - American brothers and sisters.That was far from the case, they welcomed me with open arms and made me feel emotions I didn’t know I was capable of feeling. These seniors have made me laugh, cry, and created memories for me that I will never forget. They truly have impacted my being and have changed my perception of life itself. 

Community Connection is such a great program to be involved with at the Bethlehem Center! Many forget that the adults in the community need guidance and company just as much as the children do. It was such a beautiful experience to sit down and talk about their lives, struggles, and accomplishments. 

After months of interning, I got to know Ms. Lillie, Ms. Annie, and Ms. Donna who are part of the community near the Beth. Let me just say when you are around these women, you can’t leave their side without a smile on your face. They exude wisdom and resilience, and for me that is enough to feel empowered. When I was around them I felt as though we were friends, and they created a space for me within their community and that is something I’ve never felt in my life. 

They gave me the confidence and courage to be comfortable here in the Community Connection program. 

Posted by The Beth

Camp Lookout

March 28th, 2019

Camp Lookout

  Hello! My name is Shari, and I’m the Marketing Manager at the Bethlehem Center. During spring break, some of our students from the Read to Lead Academy and the Bethlehem Leadership Unit (B.L.U.) attended Camp Lookout for the second year in a row. I had the privilege of spending some time with the high schoolers while taking pictures of their different camp activities.

  Let me tell you, they were a brave bunch! They rock climbed, zip lined, balanced with high ropes, swung through the air on a V-swing, went caving in the depths of Lookout Mountain, and more! I saw many face their fears as their peers encouraged and cheered them on. I saw genuine friendship and care for one another. I witnessed growth through stories about last year’s obstacle courses being too difficult to overcome, and how this year, those same obstacles became a piece of cake!

   Asia, one of our B.L.U. students, scaled the side of a rock wall with nothing but a harness and rope being held by a camp counselor at the bottom. Her fellow campers gathered around, chanting her name. She pulled herself up onto the platform as another counselor hooked her to a new rope that would send her soaring through the air.

  “I can’t do it. I can’t do it!” she yelled.

  “Yes, you can! We got you! If anyone can do it, you can!”, her friends cheered.

  Asia stepped a little closer to the edge only to step back once a cold breeze hit her cheeks. “You can do it, Asia! You’ve gone so far already!” yelled her bunkmate Toria, bundled in her coat. After a few deep breaths, Asia sat on the edge and scooted herself off the platform. Her body whisked past me and my camera! Her screaming quickly turned to laughter as she flew towards an open sky. 

The grin on her face was proof that this would be a story she’d share with everyone back home.


  Jefferey stood 35 feet in the air as we all watched from below, wrapped in blankets and scarves. He pulled two ropes along as he walked. The ropes were attached to his harness and a cable above his head. The cable followed the path he would have to cross before reaching the bungee swing. Jefferey is extremely afraid of heights, but he persisted through the course. With each step, he questioned his decision, but his friends reminded him that it would be over soon.

  He balanced across a log, hopped from one wood plank to the other, balanced across a thin cable line, and hopped again to the final course. Once a counselor hooked Jefferey’s harness to the V-swing, Jefferey pulled back and waited for the countdown to begin. He would have to allow the weight of the swing to pull him off the edge and sling him through the air. “What am I doing?” he yelled as we began to count. “ No, wait! Stop!”, he continued yelling.

“You got this, Jefferey! It’s going to be the best feeling ever!”, yelled a friend who just finished the course. Jefferey took a deep breath and waited for us to finish. 3...2...1.

He screamed as he swooped over fields, horses, and a nearby pond.  First he swung high and then slowly started to sway closer to the ground. Once he stopped, the biggest grin you’ve ever seen formed under curly blonde hair.

  It was so cool to watch these kids grow in their confidence and experience new things with each other. By completing these obstacle courses, they learned how to communicate their needs, trust their camp leaders, and take care of one another. It was a spring break well spent!

 Shari J. Watson

Shari is a UTC graduate with a background in music and writing. She is currently the Marketing Manager 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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