Something Good: Brethren House

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A local faith-based nonprofit is trying to do something good to help struggling families get back on their feet.

“So my youngest is Anylah and she is 3. That’s my handful. That’s my daughter. Then Zymir, he’s my 4-year-old, and Jevonte, he is 6,” proud mother Jasmin Mitchell said of her children.

This beautiful family has faced plenty of challenges.

“I was living with family and some of our family members lost jobs so not everyone had enough money to split the rent,” she said. “I ended up in a shelter with – I only had two kids at the time, Javante and Jamire.”

Sherry Washington is a military veteran. She, too, fell on hard times.

“I had become homeless. I’ve been a victim of domestic violence, I had a mental illness disability and I had a history of substance abuse,” she said.

Both women found Brethren Housing Association in Harrisburg.

“At BHA, our mission here is a way for us to live out our Christian calling,” executive director Crystal Brown said. “Brethren Housing has a dual mission, so we invest in the lives and families that we serve as well as investing in the community. At any given time, we can serve about 25 families.”

The nonprofit offers transitional housing for up to two years.

“We’ve been able to acquire several buildings along the block of Hummel Street and Mulberry and renovate them and use that housing for our families,” Brown said.

BHA offers a place to stay and a way for clients to get back on their feet. After being assigned a case manager, Mitchell worked on building her future.

“You pretty much come up with a plan because you’re transitional for a year and you pretty much go over goals; what do you want to accomplish while you are here at BHA,” Mitchell said. “I really think that this was a program that allowed me to take the chances that I needed to take to better me and my family.”

Washington takes part in the Side by Side program.

“For individuals with disabilities and for this program, we actually lease housing out in the community. It is scattered site and the families are able to reside in that house indefinitely while they work with their supportive service case manager to identify goals and to increase their independence,” Brown said.

BHA says it has a high success rate.

“Last year, across all of our programs, it was 85 percent of those families that accomplished their housing goal,” Brown said.

“If it wasn’t for God and His directions and plans for my life, and without Brethren Housing Association, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Washington said.

“When you are able to see families thrive, when they are given, it’s nothing better than that,” Brown said. “It makes all the bad days go away.”

Brethren Housing could always use volunteers for its youth program and help with cleaning up properties to get them ready for new families. Donations of household items, dishes to cookware, and financial donations are also needed.

The non-profit would also like you to check out its first annual Black Dress Soiree event on April 20. For more information, go to http://bha-pa.org/

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