Bethesda Cannot Be Saved

I’ve been worried about the fate of the Bethesda Centre ever since The Salvation Army announced its impending closure a couple of months ago.

Raise $1.5 million by May 31 so that Bethesda can be run for the next 5 or 6 years, or we’re closing it.

Well that’s not a very fair proposition, now is it? As of this moment the TSA has managed to raise $127,213 itself, and the Save Bethesda Committee (unaffiliated) has raised another $128,480. That’s a total of $255,693 and enough to let Bethesda Centre run for another year without any budget shortfalls.

And yet, TSA refuses to extend the May 31 deadline.

Justin freakin’ Bieber, whose mom stayed at Bethesda Centre while she was pregnant with him, is doing something to help out. His cut of the sales of “Turn To You,” a song he wrote for his mom, is going to Bethesda. And now another celebrity may be hopping on board to help out. But to what end?

Load up Where’s the “Help Save Bethesda!” plea? Way below the fold for most monitors. I run a 1440×900 resolution on a 19″ widescreen monitor, and I still had to scroll down to find the link to click on. Nathan Smith just did a good job of summing up how little TSA seems to care. No press conferences since the announcement, TSA won’t talk to the press about it, TSA staff didn’t show up to the press conference about Justin Bieber’s support, no active fundraising out in public, etc.

Why? Because the Salvation Army doesn’t want to run Bethesda Centre anymore. That’s the conclusion I came to last week after taking a step back and looking at the big picture. And that was just before I had Orpheum Hosting Solutions embark on a business-led campaign to convince other businesses to donate a certain dollar amount per employee they have. I thought that at $5 per employee, if a company like rtraction can donate $100, and Info-Tech can donate $1,000, and Resolution Interactive donated $60, eventually we would hit the goal… or at least damn close.

Why a business-led campaign? Because a future employee could come out of Bethesda Centre. Because it’s important to show that your business cares about the place its located in, and this is one way to do that for a small cost. Because you can buy a lot of goodwill for $50 or $100 in this manner. Yes, those may all seem like selfish reasons, but I think the end more than justifies the means.

Instead, I decided to scrap the campaign. Bethesda, in its current form, cannot be saved because the Salvation Army doesn’t want it, and will not let it, be saved. They’re doing what they can to quell the conversation, and even go to some lengths to hide the fact that the centre is in trouble at all. If it wasn’t for the Save Bethesda Committee, there would be nary a mention of this whole ordeal in mainstream media.

What really makes me angry about all this is that the Salvation Army is a Christian organization, supposedly “Giving Hope Today.” Not today they’re not, and certainly not to the single moms that the Bethesda Centre supports. I would feel better about this is TSA had just come out and said they don’t want to run Bethesda Centre anymore. And with my support for the organization already teetering before, I can affirm I will no longer support The Salvation Army in any way.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the Save Bethesda Committee does with the money it has raised, and I’m hoping it can get the $127,213 the TSA has raised for this as well to start a new centre. After all, if that money won’t go to actually save Bethesda, then it should be handed over to some people who will.