Dec 29, 2013

Bethlehem House ministry holds open house at new location



Story and photo by Terence Hegarty

EASTHAMPTON – On the feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 29, Bethlehem House, a local crisis pregnancy support center, hosted more than 100 visitors at an open house at its new facility at 33 Knipfer Ave., here.

Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell was in attendance and blessed the newly-renovated house.

The former Sacred Heart Parish rectory, the home will now serve as the ministry’s headquarters, allowing the all-volunteer staff to help young mothers in need from across western Massachusetts.

Bishop McDonnell noted the significance of holding such an event during the Christmas season, and particularly on the Feast of the Holy Family.

“Mary knew what it was to be young, to be pregnant and to be uncertain of the future,” he said. “We know that Joseph stepped in to be her support. And if that doesn’t summarize what’s happening here at Bethlehem House, I don’t know what does,” Bishop McDonnell said.

The bishop began his blessings in the prayer room, just one of the many rooms in the 3,000 square-foot facility. This is the third home of Bethlehem House. The ministry has twice outgrown its facilities.

Since being founded in 2006, over 1,000 women have received services from Bethlehem House.

Bethlehem House, a non-profit organization, offers free pregnancy resources for women and men in crisis. The staff members provide support to all members of the family which includes counseling, classes, workshops, referral to other services and supplies.

Pamela Hibbard, executive director of Bethlehem House, told iobserve that the most rewarding part of her work at the ministry over the last eight years has been seeing the way that clients have responded to the outreach.

“Nobody has really ever told them ‘congratulations’ (regarding their pregnancy) because they’re in a crisis,” Hibbard told iobserve. “It’s important for them to hear that because they’re carrying life and they should be congratulated. It might not be the perfect situation, but they’re bringing new life into the world.”

Hibbard said that the support of the volunteers that are committed to the ministry is crucial. “Our ministry is all about people helping people.” She noted that Bethlehem House has survived and thrived because so many others care enough to donate their time and their money to the cause. “It’s just the generosity of other people and opening their hearts and being great Catholics and great Christians,” she said.

Clients do not need to be Catholic to receive services; help is available to all in need, Hibbard said.

Those in need are encouraged to call Bethlehem House at (413) 527-2861. The crisis hotline for emergencies is (413) 262-8517. The agency’s website is

Bethlehem House is one of the more than 40 agencies supported by the Diocese of Springfield’s Annual Catholic Appeal.

For a video version of this story, tune into an upcoming edition of “Real to Reel,” the Diocese of Springfield’s television newsmagazine that airs Saturday evenings at 7 on WWLP-22NEWS.