Not only has Bethesda Homes in Goessel had to change the way they do so many things in their facility due to the pandemic, they had to revamp their entire annual fundraiser. But—just like with the facility—they figured it out and executed everything in a safe and efficient manner while pleasing all involved.
Bethesda Home’s Annual Pillar’s Banquet, which has been going on for 32 years now, is typically a banquet with entertainment held at Tabor Mennonite Church just outside of town. It is the only fundraiser they do. The meal is mostly prepared by Elaine Unruh, Lynette Duerksen and Laura Unrau and then served by board members and their spouses. The requested donation is $150 for adults and $25 for children 12 and under.
This year, people still enjoyed the annual meal but from their own tables rather than ones at the church.
“The pie alone is worth it. They have the best peanut butter pie anywhere,” said Mary Schmidt, who was coming for her third year. “I appreciate that they are doing the drive-thru and being safe with rising numbers [of positive cases of COVID], especially since I have a four- and a six-year-old at home. We don’t mind paying the same amount, either, because the cause is still the same.”
The needs are different every year, but the money is always put to good use. This year, the proceeds raised are going towards replacing the outdated phone system that is no longer supported.
People started coming about 15 minutes early, and the line quickly grew.
Connie and James Wiens were first in the car line.
“I worked for years at Bethesda. I started as a CNA and then a med aide and then finally got my LPN license. I retired in 2010, but I still like to support them. And we just live in Goessel so we may as well,” Connie said.
Vehicles simply pulled up to the side of the church and waited in line until they got under the portico, where workers came out with their bags of food—including their choice of pie. The workers quickly worked through the line as they greeted guests and handed them their food.
“This is the first time I have actually helped with it. We usually just attend it,” board member Nancy Stucky said. “We debated about keeping it at the same donation price since it changed to a drive-thru. But we decided that people are so supportive and would be willing to pay it even if it’s just a drive-thru, and they were fine with it. In fact, we have almost 160 signed up, so it’s actually a better turn out than usual.”
All of the servers were busy and kept on their toes, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves as they smiled and visited with each other and guests.
CEO Sara Hiebert coordinated it all and was pleased with how it turned out.
“We had the best turnout we have had in a long time. We served 169 meals and probably could have served more, as we had some last-minute callers the day of the event. So that was great. We are so thankful and blessed to have the support that we do from our constituency,” Hiebert said. “It is fantastic to see Bethesda’s ministry for over 120 years remain so strong—all because of our community and the communities surrounding Goessel. We are blessed.”
For those who were unable to attend and would still like to donate, they can send a check to Bethesda.