Transforming Harrisburg
January 24, 2014

On January 23, 2014, JoLene and I attended the Groundbreaking Ceremony for new townhouses in the Allison Hill section of Harrisburg, PA.

These townhouses are a project of the Brethren Housing Association (a ministry of the Church of the Brethren) and Pinnacle Health. Six blighted homes on Hummel Street and Haehnlen Street (really an alley) will be demolished, and five townhouses will be built, in which homeless single mothers will get a second chance at life.


For 25 years Brethren Housing Association (BHA) has helped women and children out of homelessness through rehabilitated housing. In so doing, the BHA and its many partners in the community have been a stabilizing influence in a distressed neighborhood.

On this bitterly cold day the groundbreaking went forward, on site and outdoors, with many community leaders turning shovelfuls of dirt that a workman had already loosened with a backhoe. Without his preparatory work who could have turned any dirt with a shovel on a winter day like this?

About 50 people attended this event. Part 2 of the event was a business luncheon at the Church of the Brethren on Hummel Street. At last we got warm! As part of the program a mother who has already been helped by the services of BHA told her story of moving from homelessness and helplessness to a new life for herself and her children.

If you want more information about this project, or if you would like to make a donation, you may  contact Steve Schwartz, Executive Director of BHA, at:

The Church of the Brethren cares about people’s spiritual needs, presenting faith in Jesus┬áChrist as the way to true life, both now and in the world to come. They also care about the whole range of human need, reaching out to help in all kinds of practical ways. This multi-sided ministry is a sign of the kingdom of God.

My wife and I live in Harrisburg, and we are pleased to see ways individuals and agencies are working together to see people’s lives transformed in ways that bring long-term good.