Bethel – Putting Community into Practice
Healthy or ill, disabled or not — we are convinced at Bethel that all persons can live, learn and work together in their diversity as a natural fact of life. However, many persons depend on assistance, accompaniment and support so that they can live a self-determining life of dignity to the greatest extent possible. More than 18,500 employees at the v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel are committed to these persons. Every day, they put the Christian mandate of brotherly love into practice in Berlin, in Bielefeld and at many other locations. The word “Bethel” is derived from Hebrew and means “House of God”. This name forms the basis of the agenda at the v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel in its capacity as one of Europe’s largest Christian social welfare services facility.
Assistance programs for persons with epilepsy are one example of Bethel’s endeavor, from its founding to the present, to develop advanced services for persons in need, i.e. persons in need who were previously left alone to fend for themselves. Our main fields of work, in addition to the treatment of epilepsy, cover care for disabled individuals, senior citizens’ care, assistance for young people, assistance for the homeless, work and rehabilitation, psychiatry and providing medical care at hospitals for the acutely ill. We have expanded our range of services to include persons with acquired brain damage, therapy programs for persons with autistic disturbances and hospice work. A total of approximately 230,000 persons are treated, supported, trained or counseled each year via Bethel’s range of services.
Our desire is to offer the greatest degree of self-determinant living to persons who rely on our assistance and support. Expanding the range of out-patient services is therefore the predominate goal at Bethel. The communities still remain intact, and they offer to many disabled persons an optimal environment for living, working and simply being human.
Bethel was established in 1867 as a home for children and young people suffering from epilepsy. Pastor Friedrich von Bodelschwingh took over the home’s management and expanded the small institution in Bielefeld into a differentiated and broadly diversified offer of assistance. Bethel is indeed unique in terms of the diversity of its fields of work. Yet it is primarily the support of many friends and supporters that makes our wide range of work possible for people who need help.