Everyday Evangelists: ‘The spirit brought it all together’ says St. Mary Development official
April 27, 2011
By David Eck
DAYTON DEANERY — As a coalition of businesses, volunteers and churches of different denominations worked to renovate Kathy Atkins’ Kettering house and develop a support system for her three autistic children, Tim Bete saw the body of Christ.
|Tim Bete stands outside the St. Mary Development Corporation offices in Dayton. (CT/David Eck)|
“The spirit brought it all together,” said Bete, communications director at St. Mary Development Corporation in Dayton. “God just kept providing.”
He helped lead the loosely formed group that refurbished the home to better accommodate disabilities. Kathy Atkins is a single mother, and her house was in significant disrepair with several issues, including mold. Volunteers built an addition and installed new electric, plumbing, framing, insulation and a new heating system. At one point during the project, the house was gutted, and the group had only about half the money needed to complete the renovation.
“Once we got halfway into it there was no turning back,” Bete said. “That’s really what was miraculous about it. When we came to the end, the support just came out of the woodwork.
Bete heard about the family’s plight last June and shared it with Richard McBride, president of St. Mary Development Corporation, a Dayton non-profit that develops affordable housing for low-income people. McBride spoke with the city of Kettering, and Beavercreek Christian Church became involved. The project began to snowball.
The family, which had been turned down by the reality show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” moved into temporary housing in late November and then moved back home in February.
It was a cooperative effort from the start. Three Girl Scout troops, for example, took over one of the children’s bedrooms. They interviewed the child to determine his tastes and interests, arranged to have a bed custom-built and raised money for art supplies for him.
“If you’d have gone to any one organization, they would have turned it down. The end result was much bigger than anybody would have guessed, because the way it worked is that we ended up getting individual groups to…adopt a room,” said Bete, who helped acquire donations and handled communications for the project. “At one point we had four different churches working in four different rooms of the house.”
Kathy Atkins, who is disabled, said she is still amazed at the makeover and grateful for the role Bete played.
“He’s just such an upbeat person,” said Atkins, a member of the Assembly of God Church in Kettering. “Whenever I talked to him, he was so encouraging and so positive about everything.”
The renovation will give the family more stability and provide the children with a decent place to live well into the future. Atkins said she prayed for help with her house and her children for years.
Families like that, and the hundreds of people St. Mary Development Corporation has helped over the past 20 years, make Bete realize how grateful he is for his own blessings.
St. Mary Development Corporation’s senior apartments house about 600 seniors who have an annual average income of $14,000 with many receiving less than $10,000. They typically had good jobs, worked hard and raised their families, but their jobs only paid enough cover their bills. When they stopped working, they immediately became poor, Bete explained.
In other cases, St. Mary clients were injured or became ill and lost their job, sending their house into foreclosure. St. Mary also works with homeowners who are facing foreclosure to save their homes.
“It’s such a blessing for me to work at St. Mary Development, because I get to meet people who have been in so many situations that I’ve never experienced. You talk to them, and the more people I meet just makes me feel [that] there but for the grace of God go I,” Bete said. “The biggest thing is the sense of thankfulness. I’ve been so blessed in so many ways.”
Bete sees himself living out his faith through his work but adds that everyone should look at their occupation from a faith perspective, regardless of what they do.
While Bete is grateful that he is able to work directly with those in need, he understands that it is construction contractors, computer technicians and others who enable him to do that ministry.
“To me that’s the body of Christ. We get to be the hands in reaching out, but without everything together it wouldn’t work,” Bete said. “You need everybody to infuse their faith into what they’re doing and look at look at their jobs through those eyes.”
A native of western Massachusetts, Bete was a magazine editor then served as the national marketing manager for the University of Dayton before joining St. Mary Development Corporation in 2006. He, his wife, Lynn, and their four children are members of Ascension Parish in Kettering.
Through his work at St. Mary Development Corporation, Bete sees the situations people are dealing with. He sees justice as advocating for those who have been treated unjustly. His family gives more to charity than they once did, having simplified their lives and made prayer a larger part of their lives.
Bete brings a passion for social justice, lives out the Gospel and prays about decisions before making them, said Precious Blood Sister Rose Wildenhaus, co-founder of St. Mary Development Corporation and vice president of mission and fund development for the organization.
“In my conversations with Tim his faith just comes out in lots of different ways,” Sister Rose said. “He has imbibed the spirit of St. Mary Development very, very well. Tim lives what he says, and that’s what I enjoy about him.”
David Eck can be reached at [email protected].org.