For children in communities where more local families are living below the poverty line than above it, access to education is critical. But it's not always simple. That's where an organization like Bethany House Academy comes into the picture. One of their goals is to help families connect to educational resources more easily.
Founded more than 50 years ago by the United Methodist Church, Bethany House Academy's mission statement is focused on “preparing children, youth, and adults … academically, socially, economically, and spiritually for lifelong learning, achievement, health and prosperity”. Keith Murphy has been the Executive Director for almost 25 years now.
The organization provides educational opportunities, including preschool and after-school programs, for children who may not otherwise have easy access to these types of programs. Bethany House Academy students not only receive the educational resources they need to succeed in school, but also receive mentoring and guidance from a number of volunteers.
Among those volunteers is Joe Frantz, Vice President of Engineering Technology at Marcellus shale driller Range Resources – Appalachia, LLC. Joe has been involved with Bethany House Academy for 15 years.
“My kids grew up with Bethany House,” Frantz says. “My wife, Kathy, would take our two daughters and some of our church friends to Bethany House every Wednesday afternoon. They'd have a meal, mentor and just help out.”
When Kathy Frantz died in 2007, Joe asked for contributions to Bethany House in her memory – and worked to continue her legacy.
Now a member of the Bethany House Academy Board of Directors, Frantz continues to immerse himself in the organization, with his company following suit. Supported by Range Resources, Frantz organizes both a sporting clay shoot and golf outing each year to raise much-needed funds.
“The golf tournament and clay shoot events are a great way for us to raise awareness, raise money and just have a great time,” Frantz says. “Like any 501(c)3 [organization], they need continuous support to keep the doors open. It's been a real blessing to see how so many people have jumped in to help.”
Those jumping in to help include numerous Range Resources employees and other local operators and service companies, including MarkWest, USA Compression and Halliburton – all of which volunteer time and money to help the organization. This September marked the fourth year of the Bethany House Academy Charity Golf Outing. Range has been a sponsor of the event since day one. In June, the organization held its second Charity Sporting Clay Shoot, with participation nearly doubling over the past two years. Frantz also describes another meaningful event: “a few years ago we built a large playground beside the facility and the support from Range personnel was outstanding”.
Bethany House Academy still relies on community members for financial and volunteer support. For Frantz, there's only one way to understand how the organization changes lives.
“Come and see the program yourself,” he says. “From that visit, if it touches your heart and you can contribute financially, then great. We serve breakfast, lunch and dinner all week through the gracious dedication of local churches and other community members. A little funding goes a long way towards feeding around 50 hungry children. We're always trying to let people know what we're doing and who we're impacting. We always have a need for people to come in and help.”
Frantz has mentored several children and young adults over the years. Besides the golf and clay events, he has participated in a one mile fun run for children which occurs the day before the Pittsburgh marathon. “That is one crazy event where you're trying to keep track of your assigned kids as they run through the city. We've never lost one yet!” And he is proud of the impact Bethany House continues to have on young people in the community. “We have a great program where one of our local churches takes around 25 children every other Friday night back to their church to play games and watch movies. Recently we took a few young men from McKeesport to visit the Steelers training facility.” Frantz explains that Steelers Coach John Mitchell donated this visit over the last four years as part of the charity golf event. Mitchell is a member of the same Methodist church that Mr. Frantz attends. “The players all posed for pictures with our guys,” says Frantz. “And at the end of the day, these programs help towards the goal of helping students feel connected with their community.”
For Frantz and Range Resources, the work is rewarding, and fitting of the person who inspired it: Kathy E. Frantz's name has graced the learning center at Bethany House Academy for 10 years.
“I've said many times before, I know my wife Kathy is smiling down from heaven and happy with where we've gone with this whole program,” Frantz says. “It warms my heart to know we're helping out a community that really needs help. The same church volunteers that were with her ten years ago are still helping out now. It never gets old to see the smiling faces of our preschoolers.”
This article is brought to you by Range Resources.
A journalism graduate from Brigham Young University, Kristen Price has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.