A community newsletter serving New Melle, Defiance, Augus​ta, Marthasville, Dutzow​​ a​nd surrounding areas.

Bethel Hills Open House and Founder’s Dinner, September 15

By Kathy Miller

On Thursday, September 15, the Bethel Hills Community in Dutzow hosted an Open House and Founder’s Dinner. The community, as well as the founders, were invited to share in the progress of the last year and to honor the Founders for all their hard work and devotion to Bethel Hills.

The ​purchase of the 128-acre community was ​made possible by the incredible generosity of major donors. Bethel Hills is an inclusive, ​integrated,​​ faith-based community where adults with and without developmental disabilities live, learn and worship together. The property already had a chapel (Worship Service is at 6 p.m. on Sundays and is open to the public) three buildings to be converted to housing, an event center, a gymnasium and an equipment shed filled with all the needed machinery to care for the property. Last year the Boone Country Connection did a story on the Bethel Hills Community - Bethel Hills Community in Dutzow, Dreams Do Come True. To read the remarkable story of how Bethel Hills began, click here and for an update from this past February click here. 

Since last October, The Steve & Susan Kuenzel Event Center has opened and features two different banquet rooms, a commercial kitchen, and an Air B & B, all available to rent. Two of the three housing buildings have been renovated and are occupied by new residents. ​​Most of the work done on the property has been done by retired licensed contractors for free, and most of the plumbing​​ materials were also donated.

The first duplex has three bedrooms and two shared baths, and a shared full kitchen and living area on each side. The second duplex has three efficiency apartments with private baths and kitchenettes, and a shared full kitchen and living area on each side. The third duplex is the next chapter, this building is the largest of the three housing units. ​Preliminary plans ​have been developed by Steve Strubberg of Horn Architects and once completed, the next phase will be new housing. There are currently 11 residents living at Bethel Hills with another five to move in within the next six weeks, then all completed homes will be full. Once the last remodel is finished, there will be another eight residents.​​​

At the open house, I was honored to meet two lovely young ladies who had recently moved into Bethel Hills. They both lived at home prior to moving in and have found jobs as well. They love their independence and are very proud of their new apartments. It was heartwarming to see the sheer joy on their faces and the pride they took in telling their stories of independence. I had goosebumps for the entire tour, listening to the stories all the residents shared. It truly is a beautiful community where dreams do come true.

The Founder’s Dinner ​is held annually to honor the Founders of Bethel Hills - the first 100 donors of $1000. The Founders were willing to take on the challenge and the risk of donating to an early start-up. The project would be massive, and the organization had little money, yet they bought into the vision and through them Bethel Hills was born. Also honored were the contractors and skilled tradesmen who have volunteered hundreds of hours and made these remodels possible. An estimate of the amount saved through their volunteer work is over $400,000! The Orville and Betty Gildehaus family was honored, as well as the Walter and Jean Voelkerding Charitable Foundation and Steve and Susan Kuenzel for their incredibly generous leadership gifts. Many other donors and volunteers were present.

The dinner was sponsored by Steve and Susan Kuenzel and served by Café Mosaic. Anj Holz, a resident, shared what living at Bethel Hills has meant to her. John Jasper, Project Manager, spoke about this project from his perspective as a volunteer overseeing the remodel projects. Billie Kramme, Board President, spoke and shared the update and future plans for Bethel Hills. Steve Kuenzel also shared a challenge to the community to support the efforts of Bethel Hills as they continue to build this cutting-edge community.​​​

Bethel Hills is holding a quilt raffle for a Queen size quilt made and donated by Wilma Schroeder. The quilt is 96 × 108 and is hand quilted and cross-stitched. Tickets are $10 each or 3 for $20. Visit www.bethelhills.org and click on the “Our Store” tab to see pictures and purchase tickets. The drawing will be held on December 1st.

To learn more about the Bethel Hills Community or to donate, visit www.bethelhills.org. You can follow their progress on Facebook at Bethel Hills Community.​

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The quilt for raffle, donated by Wilma Schroeder.

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The Founder's Dinner.

John Jasper, volunteer Project Manager. 


Anj Holz, resident of Bethel Hills, sharing why she wanted
to call Bethel Hills her home. 


The Founder's Dinner

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The first duplex that was remodeled. 

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The 2nd duplex that was remodeled. 

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The third building waiting for remodel. 

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Shared living area in the 2nd duplex. 

Kitchenette in the private rooms in the 2nd duplex. 

Shared kitchen and living area in the first duplex. 

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Upper Banquet Room. 

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The Lower Banquet Room.