By Edie R. Lambert
About 40 invited guests attended the Bethel Neighborhood Center’s 105th anniversary on April 20.
“We celebrated the past and also looked to the future,” said the Rev. Mang Sonna, Bethel’s executive director. “We’re 105 years-old and still active and fulfilling our mission.”
The Kansas City, Kan., nonprofit helps low-income children, seniors, families and refugees.
Two years ago, the center announced plans for building and program expansion and launched a fundraising campaign — the first capital campaign in the center’s history. The goal is to raise $2 million — $1.8 million for refurbishing and expanding the campus and $200,000 for adding services for children, seniors, families, refugees and other needy neighborhood residents. They had hoped to raise the money and begin renovations in 2017, but their fundraising is ahead of schedule.
“We gave an update on the capital campaign to let people know and get excited,” Sonna said. “We have raised $1.5 million, and we hope to have the rest by the end of the year and begin renovations at once. We could break ground in the fall.”
Renovations for the campus located at 14 S. Seventh Street Trafficway include enhanced, enlarged classroom areas; modernized public and administrative spaces; energy efficient upgrades involving doors, windows and heating and cooling systems; a brand new multipurpose center; improved playground facilities; new parking garage; and expanded food pantry and food storage area.
Wednesday’s guests enjoyed sandwiches and anniversary cake and heard from a mother whose six sons all participate in Bethel Neighborhood Center’s afterschool and summer programs.