YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – For three decades, Beatitude House has been giving disadvantaged women, and their children, a future. Now it aims to ensure that its programs and services will also survive and grow in years to come.
On Tuesday at the Pollock House on the campus of Youngstown State University, the nonprofit announced its Inspiring Hope Campaign. Of the $3.4 million goal, $2.1 million has already been raised. Beatitude House plans to use $1.13 million for continuing annual support, $1.07 million for new and enhanced programs and $600,000 each for capital improvements and endowment funding.
Its co-director, Sr. Patricia McNicholas, has been with the program since it began in 1991. Since that time, the nonprofit has provided housing and education, as well as counseling, transportation and other support to more than 7,000 women and children in need, including 60 women and 90 children this year, she said.
“I can remember driving around [in 1991] looking for a site with our late founder, Sr. Margaret Scheetz,” she said.
Beatitude House was founded that year after its original house on Fifth Avenue was donated by John and Dorothy Masternick. Today, it has four building with a total of 20 apartments on Fifth Avenue and 17 more apartments that it subsidizes in other parts of the city, plus 10 in Ashtabula.
It also has an immigrant outreach program in Campbell that offers English language lessons and other services to mainly the Hispanic community.
McNicholas said Beatitude House has had a profound effect on her life.
“I have come to know both wealthy and poor people and have seen the blessing they can be to each other,” she said. “I have many stories to share, stories of struggle and violence. And everyday stories like that of Ben, at age 3, who moved into a new apartment and said, ‘Mom, do we really get to stay? Do I get to have my own bed? They even gave me my own fork and spoon.’ His excitement over basic needs shows why our work is so vibrant.”
Two beneficiaries of Beatitude House programs spoke at Tuesday’s press conference. Erica, whose last name was withheld, spoke of her transformation.
“When I got to Beatitude House 22 months ago, I was a mess,” she said. Homeless, and trying to kick a drug habit, she had lost custody of her daughter and all contact with her two sons and the rest of her family.
She has since regained custody and is rebuilding her relationships with her sons. She has also obtained a certificate to be a sobriety counselor, in hopes of helping others overcome drug addiction.
“I came here with one bag of clothes,” she said. “Now my daughter and I have so much I despise laundry day. It’s been an amazing two years and I cannot wait to see where I go from here.”
Kayla Sawhill was introduced to Beatitude House as a 7-year-old, when she moved in with her mother who had lost her job. Sawhill never imagined she would ever attend college, but as a beneficiary of the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program, she is a senior studying political science at Youngstown State University.
The campaign has gained the support of actor Ed O’Neill, who grew up on the North Side, close to the first Beatitude House location. The “Modern Family” star addressed those gathered in a short video at the press conference.
“My mother was a social worker,” O’Neill said in the video, “and one of her favorite charities was Beatitude House. When she died, I sort of took over a little bit because it’s one of my favorite charities too, being in the neighborhood I grew up in. I urge you to help out if you can.”
To support the fund drive, he has donated to Beatitude House the original script for the “Modern Family” pilot episode, signed by all of the cast members. The script has been put up for auction on eBay, with proceeds going to the fund drive. It has already received bids. O’Neill said the signed script is rare and will make a nice keepsake for whoever wins the auction.
Ellen Tressel, wife of Youngstown State University President Jim Tressel, is co-chair of the capital campaign, along with Fred Moran Sr., owner of Window World.
“Gifts of all sizes, ranging from $3 to legacy gifts of $300,000 will make an impact,” said Tressel, who put the plight of disadvantaged women into perspective. “Please take a moment to imagine what you would do if you didn’t know where you were going to sleep tonight. Imagine that you live in a country where you don’t speak the language and can’t communicate with anyone. Imagine you are a single mother who has the opportunity to go to college for the first time but doesn’t have enough money to buy gas to put in the car to get to class.
“These are real and everyday concerns that they live day in and day out,” she continued. “You can provide hope to those who are trying to break the cycle of generational poverty through education, and through trying to better themselves all along the way, by being a part of the Inspiring Hope campaign.”
To donate, go to BeatitudeHouse.com or call Kathleen Moliterno at 330 744 3147.