New Bethany Ministries

New Bethany Ministries


Be the light in your neighbor’s darkest hour. Since its founding in 1985, New Bethany has assisted more than 148,000 individuals in its role of providing hope and support to people who experience poverty, hunger, and homelessness. 

And every December, many Lehigh Valley residents hear about New Bethany Ministries through “Luminaria Night,” an ever-growing festive night that sets the region aglow with simple, magical paper bag lanterns two weeks before Christmas.

This year, Luminaria Night is slated for Saturday, December 11th, and organizers anticipate more than 4,000 participants to illuminate their homes and businesses, sidewalks, and driveways, by lighting thousands of votive candles. The event raises more than $100,000 annually  for the women, children, families, adults, and seniors using the multitude of services provided by New Bethany, according to Veronne Demesyeux, Associate Executive Director for the organization. 

 A milestone was met in 2019, with a total of one million dollars raised since 1997, reports Demesyeux . Highly impressive, particularly since Luminaria Night began as a small mustard seed of a program, brainstormed by a few neighbors in North Bethlehem, including former board member Joanne Anderson, to provide financial assistance for a single family. Today, the night has bloomed into a festive evening with scores of block captains, program partners, and volunteers. Additional fundraisers throughout the year include the Souper Day luncheon and Spring Against Hunger annual appeal.

Meanwhile, a tour of New Bethany Ministries reveals multiple points of light—from the committed staff and volunteers to a multitude of individual and community improvement programs. Located in South Bethlehem, this remarkable non-profit extends its reach across Northampton and Lehigh Counties, from Easton, Allentown, Hellertown, Coplay, and beyond. 

The organization’s goal is to help families and people who are capable of becoming self-sufficient and living independently.

New Bethany is wired to assist individuals as they learn accountability and to make better life choices. “We believe in a holistic approach for the betterment of each person in mind, body, soul. We want people to succeed,” adds Demesyeux . The non-profit also strives to identify and optimize opportunities to improve the quality of life for people who may also cope with mental illness, disabilities, or extreme poverty. On any given day, the south Bethlehem center is a hub of activity. A bustling soup kitchen serves up to 100  people a day. Guests are given access to hot showers, toiletries, lockers, mail services, and vouchers for the on-site laundry facilities—such details many of us may take for granted.

In 2019, New Bethany served 9,000 individuals and families, mostly through its food pantry and meal center. After over a year into the coronavirus pandemic, that reach has grown to serve over 12,000 people, which includes the opening of a new Housing Assistance office for people falling short on their rent during the health and economic crisis. New Bethany’s  “Choice Food Pantry” allows eligible participants to make food selections based on family nutritional and menu needs. A color-coded point system separates food by nutritional content. Fresh, wholesome produce, meats, proteins, eggs, and dairy are an integral part of this updated program.

New Bethany also offers temporary and transitional housing programs with a host of comprehensive social services. A team of case  managers, led by Social Service Director Jennifer Moll, assists guests with schedules, goals, job search assistance, and financial planning. There’s an active clothing bank and parenting classes, and measures are taken to identify particular barriers each individual may possess.

With job search assistance and referrals, each housing client is given two weeks to secure a job. For families in need, a large, bright dorm- like room can sleep a family of four. Larger rooms in the same facility can house a family of 10. As guests advance through the system, they graduate to long term rental solutions and programs such as the Pennsylvania Housing Affordability and Rehabilitation Enhancement. “We have found that for many families, the provision of a security deposit, that first and last month’s rent, make the difference between living on the street, or having a roof over your head,” says Marc Rittle, Executive Director.

When a guest fails to meet goals, or are unable to adhere to the program, they may be discharged. However, with guidance and real- life help, the final goal is for each family or individual to move into permanent housing in three to six months.

As Luminaria Night approaches, one loyal participant observes, “Lighting each votive candle in the chill of a December wind can be a tough task. However, early on, I realized how each candle represents a homeless or hungry person in the cold, and the hope they can find through New Bethany Ministries.”

Success stories glow as thousands of people have turned their lives around for the better. “Miracles do happen every day, right here at Fourth and Wydonotte Streets,” sums Rittle. 

To learn more about New Bethany Ministries’ services or to be part of helping others, visit the organization’s website at To participate in this year’s Luminaria Night, check out

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