Bethany House (Laredo, Texas)

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Bethany House is a settlement house for the dispossessed in downtown Laredo, founded by the Roman Catholic minister, Charles McNaboe

Bethany House is a settlement house, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, that assists the homeless and other indigent in Laredo and Webb County in South Texas. It was founded in 1982 by the Roman Catholic Father Charles M. McNaboe (1929-1996)[1] as a soup kitchen to provide lunches to, originally, seventeen poor persons.[2]

The facility expanded into a permanent location downtown at 819 Hidalgo Street as a result of the donation of land by the family of Maria B. Leyendecker. The main mission of the facility is to provide hot meals without charge to the indigent.[2] There is also a Thrift and Vintage stores for clothing, the latter designed to provide higher quality outfits for the poor seeking employment.[3] The soup lunch kitchen evolved into meal services three times daily.[2] Bethany House offers extended services for home-delivered meals and for "Kid’s Cafes", an outreach to children, mostly at public housing centers and at the Lamar Bruni Vergara Boys and Girls Club.[4]

In August 2002, Bethany House acquired a second nearby property to establish the Guadalupe and Lilia Martinez Resource Center and Emergency Shelter, named for a late philanthropic couple from Laredo.[5]

Since a national recession began late in 2007, more families have sought assistance from Bethany House, according to its then director, Barbara Kazen (1941-2011), wife of U.S. District Judge George P. Kazen.[6] In November 2008, Laredo observed "National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week." Laredo Mayor Raul Salinas led a public march to draw attention to the plight of the needy: "Right now, we are living through very difficult times, but Laredo is a very special city. It's a city where those who have less are always willing to give the shirts off their backs to help others. We must get through this crisis. We must think positive."[6]

Approximately a third of Laredo residents live at the poverty level,[6] but donations from citizens and business groups beyond Bethany's budget have enabled the settlement house to expand its operations. For instance, in 2008, Mrs. Kazen received a grant from United Parcel Service to help the organization establish services for the unemployed.[6]

Bethany House remained open through Christmas 2009 with additional mattresses placed inside the cafeteria to meet high capacity needs.[7] Each year Bethany House serves some 300,000 meals and more than five million pounds of food.[6]

In January 2014, Bethany House unveiled its Barbara A. Kazen Center for Hope, a new complex which will provide nine additional transitional housing units for needy families. The $2.3 million project encompasses approximately 10,000 square feet.[8]

In June 2014, Fanny Stavoroswki of Laredo received the national Jefferson Awards Foundation honors in Washington, D.C., for her twenty-five years of work on behalf of the homeless through Bethany House. By 2013, more than 361,000 meals were served at Bethany House. Stavorowski contributed toward these efforts through her fundraising for the organization.[9] In June 2015, Manuel Santos received the Jefferson honors for his thirty years of employment at Bethany House. Santos, who works in food delivery for the Bethany House home-bound program, also garnered a Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award for his personal commitment to positive change in the community.[10] The current director of the Bethany House is Rosario Flores, who has been with the center for 21 years.


  1. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c "History of Bethany House". Archived from the original on July 24, 2010. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  3. ^ "Vintage Store, Bethany House". Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ Julian Aguilar, "To the rescue: Heartfelt pledges keep Kid Cafes open, add one", Laredo Morning Times, December 11, 2008, pp., 1, 8A
  5. ^ "Tricia Cortez, "Bethany House dedication:Mayor Betty Flores takes over ceremony", April 25, 2003" (PDF). Laredo Morning Times. Retrieved January 6, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b c d e Julian Aguilar, "Help for the Hungry: Bethany House raises awareness of growing problem", Laredo Morning Times, November 20, 2008, pp. 1, 13A
  7. ^ "Bethany House keeps their {sic} doors open over the holidays"., December 24, 2009. Archived from the original on July 15, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Philip Balli, Bethany House celebrates expansion, January 16, 2014". Laredo Morning Tines. Retrieved January 18, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Jefferson Awards Foundation: Laredoan honored at national ceremony", Laredo Morning Times, June 19, 2014, pp. 1, 12A
  10. ^ "Santos recognized for public service", Laredo Morning Times, June 19, 2015, p. 1