Bethany Hill Place is a non-sectarian 501c3, founded in 1994 and sponsored today by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston. This Catholic order of sisters created Bethany Hill in response to the growing problem of homelessness, particularly family homelessness. The Sisters of St. Joseph (CSJs), with their long tradition as educators, understood the powerful role that learning can play in building (or rebuilding) a life. They were determined to pair education and housing in order to empower families and individuals who had experienced homelessness, addiction, violence and loss. This ‘living and learning community of neighbors’ evolved from one of the core values of the Sisters of St. Joseph: to combine compassion and action to bring about positive change.
Our building, which was constructed in the 1920s, was originally the order’s novitiate; where young women entering the order would both live and take classes as they fulfilled their requirements toward their degrees. The College of St. Joseph merged with Regis College in 1963. By 1970, the Novices moved into a larger building that had been built on the property (Fontbonne Hall) and the original Novitiate closed. From 1972 to 1985, it operated as a school for deaf children before closing in the early 1990s. It was at that point that the Sisters recognized the opportunity to offer a different vision for solving the problem of homelessness. Bethany Hill School opened its doors in 1994. At that time, the name was a helpful carryover from the previous building occupants – a school for the deaf. Having ‘School’ in our name was an important assurance and reminder that an educational focus was integral to our mission. After many quiet successes during the following 21 years, we recognized that the educational moniker, once so helpful, was creating misconceptions about our mission and programs. Through a deliberative process our name was formally changed in early 2016 to Bethany Hill Place. We think it captures all the possibilities afforded the families and individuals we serve — a Place to live, learn, grow, and pursue their dreams for a better future.