Beatitude House Raises Nearly $3.7M, Surpassing Its Goal

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – A crippling pandemic couldn’t subdue the generosity of the Mahoning Valley and beyond toward a cause that’s endured for 30 years.

Beatitude House, a ministry of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, announced Thursday that it has surpassed its fundraising goal of $3.4 million for its Inspiring Hope campaign.

“Through generous donations, we actually exceeded our goal by more than $200,000 bringing our total to almost $3.7 million,” said Ellen Tressel, the campaign’s co-chairwoman, during a press event at Youngstown State University’s Pollock House.

She said the effort enables Beatitude House to strengthen and expand the programs it provides — programs that are devoted to improving the lives of mothers and their children.

Among these new initiatives is a Child Wellness Coordinator, Jennifer Battaglia, Tressel said. The coordinator acts as an advocate for those children in each Beatitude House program. “Jennifer ensures that all of our children have an advocate, a voice, to stand with them,” and works directly with local school systems, she said. During the pandemic, for example, the child wellness program provided children with desks, tablets, school supplies and study mentoring as schools transitioned to remote learning.

Tressel said the Inspiring Hope campaign, which kicked off in 2018, drew support from hundreds of individuals from Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties who contributed gifts from as little as $3 to $300,000.

Sister Margaret Scheetz, a fervent advocate for frightened, homeless mothers, established Beatitude House in 1991. The house at 1515 Fifth Ave. on Youngstown’s North Side initially housed four families in four separate apartments.

Scheetz died of brain cancer in 2001, but her legacy has left an indelible imprint on the community.

“We will continue to inspire and create hope for generations to come,” said Keshia Bales, Beatitude House’s director. “We are thankful to the dedicated community members, our partners, our board, our incredible staff that have made our first 30 years such as success.”

Over the last 30 years, Beatitude House has provided help to more than 7,500 lives through its three programs: Housing, Ursuline Sisters Scholars, and Immigrant Outreach.

“To bless another person is to give away some of one’s own life so that the other might be more resources for his or her life,” added Sister Norma Raupple, director of immigrant outreach. “Many families have received housing, personal support, education and much more.”

Rasha Ali, who arrived in the United States in 2015 from Ramallah on the West Bank, said she sought help from Beatitude House after she found herself divorced with two children three years later.

“They helped me improve my English and start college,” she said. “It was very helpful to me and my two daughters. They were my family.”

Today, she is pursuing an associate’s degree in health information management at Eastern Gateway Community College. “They’ve helped me get my citizenship, how to study, they take care of my daughters when I’m studying.”

Sister Mary McCormick, general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown, said Beatitude House’s mission is steeped in the Ursuline order’s tradition.

“When our first sisters came here, they were coming to teach in the schools,” she said. “Many of the children in schools in those days were immigrants, not too unlike the program Beatitude House offers today as part of immigrant outreach.”

Ultimately, McCormick said that it’s Beatitude House’s mission to change one’s life story from despair to a future “that is full of hope.”

Campaign co-chairman Fred Moran said that Rasha’s story is an example of how Beatitude House’s programs have helped change lives.

“I became involved in Beatitude House because I witnessed the tenacity of this organization and how they change of the lives of women and children,” he said. “The impact on the community as a whole is incredible.”

Pictured: On-hand for the announcement were Sister Norma Raupple, director of Beatitude House’s immigrant outreach program; Keshia Bales, Beatitude House director; Sister Mary McCormick, general superior of the Ursuline Sisters of Youngstown; and Brigid Kennedy, president of Ursuline Ministries.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.